Great-grandma painted her nursery walls pink or blue. Grandma was more adventurous when it came time to choose. You, of course, have been exposed to a dizzying array of research as you check out those color chips at your local home improvement store. Does red put a baby’s cognitive development on the fast track? Will pink shape her personality? Does room color really affect the way infants view the world, develop and react to stimuli? The answer is-yes, but. Many variables contribute to baby’s development, so it’s incumbent upon you to mix a rainbow of common sense, theory and a whole lotta love when you choose room colors to nurture your infant.
Science For Moms
Researchers Iris Zemach, Susan Chang and Davida Teller love playing with babies-but what they love more is discovering whether or not room color makes a difference in a child’s development. Their “Vision Research” journal article, “Infant color vision: Prediction of infants’ spontaneous color preferences,” showcases the findings of the brave, all-female team who began their journey by wrangling 235 babies and then filming them to see where their eyes went when color dot choices popped up on computer screens. Did the kids pick white or colors? Bet you can guess. Zemach’s team concluded, “Babies do have color preferences–mostly determined by hue.” If they could talk, they would likely pick blues and purples because the colors resonate with their developing brains and, as much as babies can be stimulated, are the hues on which babies fixate. Runners up? Surprisingly, red and yellow, two stimulating colors that impact grown-ups so profoundly, advertisers use them most frequently to grab your attention.
Oh, The Shapes They Will See!
You have an emotional investment in baby’s developing brain, so using blue and purple as room color choices to get her synapses super-charged makes sense. But perhaps you have read that shapes can “shape” the way infants react to colors, too. Besides, you’re considering wallpaper that will set you back big bucks in the hopes it stimulates your infant’s grey matter. Not so fast. A “Psychological Science” article explores the topic of the role color plays in shape recognition, a topic that eluded researchers for 20 years. Researchers exposed infants to colored circles and triangles on backgrounds of red or blue, yellow or green. Moms took the same test, too. At last, conclusions! “Infants … showed significant shape-color associations,” the study concluded. “By eight months the preference was no longer pronounced, and in adults it was gone altogether.” Wow. Vanishing differentiation. Maybe painting circles and triangles on the wall or using patterned wallpaper in the hopes that repeating color shapes will jump-start your child’s intellect isn’t worth the bother or the cash outlay.
Conduct Your Own Tests
Babies see the world in black and white plus shades of grey from the moment they’re able to focus their eyes, so if you want to maintain that comfort zone, there’s nothing wrong with creating a black and white nursery and using an accent color to rev things up. Your cuddles, stimulation and interaction help baby cope with that black and white world so that by the time they are ready to focus on colors and shapes other than black and white, you can actually test baby’s preferences by tossing a red, yellow or green blanket over the corner of the crib to see if she responds to any of these hues. You already know that you can count on purple and blue, according to color research scientists, and thanks to shape differentiation studies conducted by Psychological Science, you can gradually add wall decor in round and triangle shapes to see where your infant looks. Serious science moms aren’t above mounting a camera on a crib to capture baby’s eye movements. If the red triangle art hanging on the wall over the crib amazes her, consider yourself a member of the scientific community.
Keep it Cool, Mom
According to New Zealand’s largest privately-owned paint manufacturing company, Resene Paints Limited, “Strong, bright colours [can] shock the baby’s inner vibrations,” unsettling him and making him restless. Other color theorists agree that bright, intense hues like red and yellow can be problematic choices. What we see as cheery, upbeat yellow can result in sleeping problems and increased crying. Professional decorators also recommend steering clear of vibrant colors like yellow and red. “Yellow tends to cause more eye fatigue than any other color. It increases metabolism and upsets babies.” Did you know that people lose their temper more often in yellow rooms? Seriously? Just what you need: a little more stress. Just say no to yellow and red if you plan to stay sane long enough to figure out what color to paint your teenager’s room.