Colors That Stimulate Babies

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The right color choices for a baby's nursery can stimulate learning.
The right color choices for a baby's nursery can stimulate learning. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

A baby’s environment can greatly enhance his development, even at infancy, according to pediatrician Dr. William Sears. Each of the five senses can promote learning, including sight. In fact, visual stimulation may pose the most significant influence on a baby’s developing nervous system. So it is important that parents choose colors and patterns that encourage growth and create the right blend of comfort and stimulation.

Black-and-White Stripes

Unlike an adult, a baby’s retinas are not fully developed at birth. Pastel or muted colors are therefore likely to blur until the retina is matured. It is still important, however, for parents to provide babies with visual stimulation that supports brain cell health, vision and learning. Contrasting colors deliver the strongest visual signals to a baby’s brain, helping the brain and eyes to develop more quickly. Those colors that appear most boldly to a baby are black and white, and striped patterns provide the greatest contrast. Blankets, bed sheets and toys that feature black-and-white stripes are ideal for a baby’s bedroom. Books, toys and play mats in contrasting colors of light and dark can also be used for added stimulation.

Bold Colors

In addition to accessories in black and white, parents should also use bold colors to stimulate a baby’s brain development. Orange is reportedly a color that promotes feelings of optimism, while yellow is believed to stimulate thinking. Similarly, red can evoke enthusiasm, and toys in these bright hues will help draw a baby’s attention. While bold colors are not recommended for bedroom walls, they can be incorporated into a decorating scheme with accents. Playrooms can also feature bright colors, and one option for parents is to paint one wall in a bold shade of red while keeping the other three more neutral.

Pastels and Neutrals

Overstimulation can occur with babies who are excessively exposed to stripes and bright colors. Because rest is necessary for optimal development, bedrooms should provide the right mixture of stimulation and comfort. Pastel wall colors with bright accents can help parents achieve this delicate combination. Blue and green pastels, for example, are often associated with feelings of calm and tranquility. Neutral colors like cream and beige can be used for walls and carpeting. These colors can then be emboldened with red, yellow and orange border or furniture pieces to provide stimulation when baby is awake.

Preferred Colors

Dave Munger, a writer for "Cognition Daily," reports that babies have preferences for certain colors. Although infants cannot distinguish between colors, babies at 2 months of age can normally differentiate between most colors. As such, Munger indicates that blues and purples are usually babies’ favorites, with greens, yellows and reds being less preferred. This may be important when parents select nursery decorating schemes, as preferred colors will draw a baby’s eye, while others may cause a baby to become fussy or cranky.

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