Baby body tracing | Toddler art

18 Jul
Bug ponders how to add more decoration to the tracing of the Lil Guy.

Bug ponders how to add more decoration to the tracing of the Lil Guy.

We are still recovering from our big trip back East, so I was looking for a quick project to do with the Bug after she got back from gymnastics class today. As I often do, I consulted Tinkerlab, specifically the “12 Art Projects for Toddlers” post. Body tracing! That seemed like fun. (Note: This post contains affiliate links.)

Body tracing!


  • Big piece of paper or cardboard
  • A pen for tracing
  • Various art supplies for decorating

I pulled out a roll of medical exam table paper — which I use for pattern tracing — and unspooled a length of it on the floor. “OK, Bug, lay on top of the paper,” I said. She was not going for it. So I thought we’d try it with the Lil Guy, who at 4 months, is too young to protest. I moved the paper to our rug, laid him down, and started tracing. “No, I do it,” Bug said, taking the pen from my hand and scribbling on the paper (to her credit, she only got a tiny bit on the Lil Guy). I grabbed a crayon and finished tracing, and when she relinquished the pen, I retraced his body.

Bug grabbed her dot markers, and we moved the whole operation outside. Since the tracing paper is thin, I put my cutting mat underneath it. I’ve learned from attempting art projects with Bug that you need to keep the momentum going. So although I would have preferred using cardboard or something I could throw away underneath the drawing, I went with something that I could grab quickly. We taped the paper to the mat, and Bug started dotting away.

She doesn’t often ask for the dot markers, so I decided to take a cue from Rachel Doorley and let her guide the choice of materials. Since I left the Scotch tape out, Bug wanted to play with that. I kept that out, and also grabbed two rolls of Wasabi tape that I bought. One looked like stained glass, so I used that to call back the memory of some gorgeous stained glass windows we saw in a seafood place in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. “Remember those stained glass windows we saw? This tape reminds me of that.”

When she noticed some sidewalk chalk on the ground, we pulled out the chalk, which was less interesting to her. By this point, she understood where the art supplies were, and she pulled out some puffy paints her aunt gave her. I made a rule that we could only keep two art materials out at a time, so we put away the chalk and dot markers and kept the puffy paint and tape. Squeezing out just the right amount of paint was a little too fine of a motor skill for her, but she had fun globbing it on the paper, which began to rip under the weight.

I noticed her using the tip of the paint applicator to drag lines through the paint puddles, so I grabbed a couple of twigs from our yard, as well as some leafs and two clovers. We dragged lines from the blobs of paint and tried to use the leaves as stamps, which transferred shapeless globs of paint on the paper rather than leaf-shaped globs of paint, as I was hoping.

The whole activity kept her occupied for about an hour, which is a really long time for her right now. The Lil Guy admired our work on his outline from the vantage point of his bouncy chair. When we were done, I put the whole thing on an outside table to dry so that the dogs wouldn’t get paint on their noses.

The one thing I would change next time is the paper. Bug headed into her playroom with the last of our homemade play-dough, and I remembered that we had a roll of drawing paper attached to her play table. The drawing paper (from IKEA) is far sturdier than the tracing paper I used, and wouldn’t rip as easily under toddler hands and pools of paint.

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