How Color Affects Your Baby

How Color Affects Your Baby

How much color should I put in the nursery? Will it be too bright? Will there be enough stimulation? These are some of the most common questions we hear from our clients wondering how color affects your baby. While there is still much scientific debate about how color affects infants, there is endless evidence showing how color affects adults—marketing execs have poured millions into this research. It’s no coincidence that most fast food restaurants are red and yellow—these colors can make you feel more hungry.

Why not take advantage of all this research and use it to choose your nursery colors? While your baby may not perceive colors correctly for a while, they will when they get older and as those marketing execs have proven—color does affect us. Here’s a quick rundown of some color theory and how it can help your choose the right paint color for your child’s nursery.

Red Passion, Excitement, Emotional Red is bold and attracts a lot of attention. It can work in a nursery as an accent but should be avoided wall to wall. Red is the “hottest” color and may invoke volatile personality traits to stand out.

Mary Poppins Nursery by ELLETIDMary Poppins Nursery 

Orange Warm, Comforting, Cozy – Orange is a very comfortable color. It promotes a welcoming feeling and inspires interpersonal conversation. Orange is friendly and puts reservations at ease. Use a darker orange for a super-cozy atmosphere or bright orange for a punch of modern!

Fitzgerald’s Woodsy Nursery by Athena RaypoldFitzgerald’s Woodsy Nursery 

Yellow Lively, Energetic, Cheerful Yellow is sunny and bright but use with caution. Too much or too bright yellow can agitate a baby. Subtle yellow (think legal pads) promotes concentration and emotive thoughts.

Yellow and Gray Baby Boy Nursery by Victoria Elizabeth DesignYellow and Gray Baby Boy Nursery by Victoria Elizabeth Design

Green Calming, Refreshing, Nurturing – Green is the best color to use in a learning environment. It promotes calmness of thinking and concentration. It is also very serene, calming and natural. Green is one of the best colors in decorating because it is so abundant in nature—you can’t go wrong!

Girl’s Nursery by Wit & Delight

Blue Healing, Subtle – Blue is calming, but be careful with the shade. Gray-blues can lean towards sadness. Blue increases productivity, but should not be used around food. If you have a child who refuses to eat, avoid blue plates! In the nursery, use warm or bright blues and avoid overusing navy or dark shades. Blue is also cooling, which is good for a baby who gets warm easily.

Classy Coastal Nursery by Emily AlexanderClassy Coastal Nursery by Emily Alexander

Purple Dignified, Mysterious, Luxurious Purple has long been associated with royalty, and that still holds today. Jewel tone purple is as regal as it gets. Pastel purples, like lavenders and lilacs, are more calming and serene but still have that luxurious feel. Purple is rare in nature therefore it is the most “unnatural” color.

Purple Buffalo Check Nursery by Style Your SensesPurple Buffalo Check Nursery by Style Your Senses

White Clean, Pure, Innocent – White is angelic and sweet but can also promote secretiveness. Stay away from all white—use splashes of color to evoke emotion and openness. And beware—white is definitely prone to stains!

All White Nursery by Little Crown InteriorsAll White Nursery by Little Crown Interiors

Pink Romantic, Loving, Feminine – It’s no coincidence that little girls love pink. It is the universal color of all things girly. Pink is very calming as well, particularly with children who are prone to throwing fits or tantrums. Feel free to go nuts with pink in a girl’s nursery—the only ill effect may be a bit of a princess attitude!

Pink and Blue Nursery - Project NurseryAriella’s Coral and Aqua Nursery by

Gray Introspective, Intuitive, Emotional -Gray inspires you to contemplate—the same way you may feel a bit down on a cloudy day (which is why raincoats are yellow). Be careful with gray. It’s advantages are that it promotes thought and emotion, but that includes sadness and loneliness. Many famous poets and writers have been known to retreat to overcast locations to write, like Seattle. If you want to use gray, use a warm tone and mix in some brighter colors.

Board and Batten in the NurseryBrittney Horton Nursery

Brown Earthy, Grounded – Brown is the color of our earth, which makes it a great choice for a nursery. However, brown is also the color of, er, other things, so use with caution. Go with a dark chocolate brown or a very light beige/tan. Avoid any of the middle shades as they can tend to look, well, poopy.

Brown Nursery - Project NurseryNeutral Nursery by

Black Authoritative, Powerful – Black is another color to use in moderation. It is strong and dark. Make sure to use in a room with big windows and lots of natural lighting. Black should be used as an accent color—black walls are a nightmare to repaint!

Monochrome Modern Nursery by 

There is an endless amount of information on color out there. If you’re planning your baby room colors, take a few minutes and do a little research. After all, your baby will be in this room until you decide to repaint.


  1. 1

    I have a little girl on the way and we’re trying to figure out paint colors right now. We want her room to have that open beachy kind of feel. Naturally we thought blue when going with a beach theme, but I’m afraid of it looking like a boy’s room. Any tips on complimentary colors so we can have that serene blue feel, but still keep it gender neutral?

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    I think you could pull off blue if you add in some floral prints…Maybe think along the lines of Beach Property instead of Beach Nautical? Just an idea :)

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    If you choose a light aqua blue (think Tiffany’s) or a violet blue like periwinkle, the room will definitely feel more feminine. If you want to stay with a straight light blue, pair it with a more girly accent color like magenta. I also love the idea from LaLaFin of adding florals to the mix!
    Little Crown Interiors

  4. 4

    I am now working on my daughters new toddlerbedroom, she turns 2 in a week. I was thinking about using lime green and pink for her walls, and adding a bit of yellow and blue to the mix. This article has made me stop doubting if these are the right colours!
    Thanks, J

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    Thanks for all the ideas! You’re absolutely right, the shade can make a difference! Juna, that’s a fun group of colors for your toddler’s room :)

  6. 6

    I did an aqua/blue for my daughter’s room and her bedding had hibiscus flowers with pinks, corals, and greens. It was one of my favorite rooms!

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    I just painted my 9 mo. old a almost lime green color and my husband and mom kept telling me it will agitate the baby, tks so much for such a great article. I will keep my green wall ;)

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    We are going with a green wall, and LOVE the tree decal on the wall in the ‘green’ photo.
    Where can we get one of those?

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    Why can’t a girl’s room be blue? I personally don’t understand this adult need to draw gender lines with such arbitrary things like colors and patterns. Babies don’t recognize such differences, and parents shouldn’t teach or encourage them.

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    To anyone worried about their baby’s room looking “too girly” or “too boyish,” don’t worry about it! Your baby isn’t going to care what colour you make their nursery, they’re too busy learning about the world and most of them don’t care about how pink or blue you see them :) So don’t worry about being too masculine with a girl or too feminine with a boy, they know who they are

  17. 35

    I’m not sure if I completely agree with this article. I don’t think color has anything to do on how a child will develop. IMO- start out with a neutral color and wait to decorate your child’s room with the their favorite color. Their choice may surprise you. My son a lively and happy little boy chose a bluish grey and my daughter, the princess that she is, went with a beautiful lavender with pops of pink. Their playroom is decorated with their artwork on light tan walls with pops of rainbow colors.

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    You guys gotta check out Lolly&Me Inc. The cribs they offer are amazing. Great new line of COLOR ME cribs offering unique bright colors. They also have a made in the USA line exclusive to
    Lastly they just launched a UDESIGN line where you can actually create and design your own crib.

    They do it right

  19. 42

    My daughters room is all aqua. Her carpet is a deeper shade of Aqua. So for her nursery I went for an underwater theme and decorated with fish and mermaids (not Disney little mermaid, but think whimsical artwork) and pink and green accents. I have an oversized white fur floor rug too. Her older brother lives hanging out in her room! It’s very calm. Blue works for boys and girls. Hey, the sky is blue and the ocean is blue and they work for everyone, right?

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    Elke I absolutely love the idea of what you have done, I’m having a little boy and decided I wanted to do a beach themed room, you saying how well your room went has really made me feel like mine will go down well too so thank you

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    brown is not “poopy”, there are brown people, just think is not nice to read something like that of your skin color.

  24. 49

    I found out we’re having a little boy a week ago and thinking about how to paint his nursery stresses me out! I wanna do something not too generic but I’m not a fan of super bright or neon colors. The room we have for him is currently lilac and pink, I want it to fit a more gender neutral feel. Any color scheme suggestions?

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    We went all red on the nursery. It was finished before we did any research on the subject. After reading how red may bring out a volatile personality trait, understandably we were worried. Too late to do anything we proceeded with red.
    After one year our son is calm, patient and so very happy. Everyone who spends anytime with him comments on how content and quiet he is. He’s an absolute joy!

  27. 63

    My wife and I are expecting our first baby in 8 months and we were just discussing what to paint the baby room. I suggested green and she thought grey. When I found this article, we both agreed that green would be better.

    My cousin and his wife painted their baby room a decade ago bright yellow, bright red and bright blue. They said they wanted an exciting and creative environment for their child. Turns out it might have encouraged his aggressive behavior that he exhibited untilt they moved away from that house three years ago.

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    I found out we’re having a little boy a week ago and thinking about how to paint his nursery stresses me out! I wanna do something not too generic but I’m not a fan of super bright or neon colors.

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    Me and my husband are have been thinking to painting our baby room. I suggest him we can paint these with some light colors. What do you suggest about this? Thanks in advance for giving me the clarification.

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    My wife and I are expecting our first child, and we are looking for ideas to decore the nursery room. It was well said that orange promotes a welcoming feeling and reservations at ease. We will consider your ideas and contact a painter to help us paint the room faster.

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    Babies are scientifically 100% colour blind until the third month of their life. They don’t care about how warm and welcome you feel with the oranges. They don’t care how apathetic and poetic you feel about grey’s.

    People who pick black and white, are people who are choosing to not overwhelm their babies with colour. Imagine being colour blind for your whole life and then hit with insane colours you’ve never seen before, and be expected to focus on anything, and then the bigger humans get mad not knowing why you just cannot or will not sleep.

    Babies also aren’t capable of seeing in 3D until usually their 4th month. Which is why high contrast is incredibly important. Simple patterns with such bold contrasts of black and white allows them to clearly define images from a younger age, especially with various textures. Not only is this just for stimulation, you’re teaching your child even earlier, about depth perceptions and spacial sense, making it easier for them to follow moving objects.

    It’s not just about how we feel in a babies nursery, with our years of bias on how each colour makes us feel… it’s about trying to give them a jump start allowing them to not only be able to focus, but to relax them in a way that is smooth transitioning from your uterus to the world outside.

    In case anyone’s wondering, the first colours they see is reds, then green, blue, purple and brownish yellows. And colours like pinks and yellows can’t even be seen until roughly the same stage of development as their language centres begin to develop.

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    Is it okay to have a pink nursery for a baby boy? Pink is my favorite color, and I think pink looks equally cute on both genders. I don’t have children, but when I do, there is a possibility that they might all be boys. However, I would still like a pink nursery. Many different colors were mentioned, but pink was the only one where gender was mentioned.

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    We had exactly the same. Funny!

    We went all red on the nursery. It was finished before we did any research on the subject. After reading how red may bring out a volatile personality trait, understandably we were worried. Too late to do anything we proceeded with red.
    After one year our son is calm, patient and so very happy. Everyone who spends anytime with him comments on how content and quiet he is. He’s an absolute joy!

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