It used to be so easy to decide nursery colors: boys got blue, girls got pink. Thank goodness times have changed! Now, we use color in so many ways to enhance our children’s lives. There’s not a lot of research out there yet, but what we do know is that our infants perceive color and react to it. There’s a good deal of research that tells us how humans overall react to color, so the evidence would suggest it’s a safe bet to decorate for our children with the same guidelines as we would for ourselves.

Do you want to excite, enthuse, calm, or relax? Color selection can do all of that and more. Here are some suggestions of what color can do to enhance your child’s experience. It’s not just what goes on the walls that matters, but accessories and complementary color choices can create a harmonious emotional experience to soothe or to invite play, depending on your child’s needs. That’s why most children’s bedding is made in soft blues, greens, and whites—to soothe and invite sleep.

Red—It excites and energizes. A great idea for a bookshelf color or as a complement, but if you want a calm child at bedtime, it’s best to avoid it as a wall color. In this color palette is pink, which we associate with romance and femininity. 

Orange—It often leads to a cozy, welcoming feeling. It’s great for a single wall for a pop of warm color.

Yellow—Sunny, bright, and warm. A light yellow has always seemed a great idea for the walls of a gender-neutral nursery, but experts warn it can overstimulate and should be used with caution, or as a single wall or accent color.

Green—The color of nature does just what you’d expect, it’s nurturing and calming. It can also promote learning as it allows the brain to focus and concentrate.

Blues--  Another soothing, healing hue for a bedroom, but beware of the shade. Too much gray can indicate sadness. Navy is an overwhelming color that can feel stifling. There is also evidence that blue impacts how we eat. So, if you want your child to be a clean-plater, don’t use it in the dining room, or give him a blue plate or cup. The “baby blue” we know is usually associated with masculine qualities.

Purple—In lighter (lavender) shades it can sooth and calm, but bright purple stimulates along the same lines as a red or yellow.  Purple has been the color of royalty for centuries and is still one of the most luxurious and exotic hues you can choose.

White—Logic would say white is a great choice since it’s clean, efficient, innocent, right? It can also be perceived as sterile and has been shown to cause people to feel the y must be secretive because they feel exposed in white rooms. Use with caution.

When choosing room colors go to your local home center and get a color wheel, or some paint sample cards. The wheel will show you complementary colors to aid in your choice of accessories (drapes, bedding, accent colors), and you can cut the paint cards up to shift colors around and find the perfect combination for your child’s room.