Expert / 2 August, 2021 / Dr Amanda Gummer
When it comes to decorating your baby’s nursery there are so many things to consider. From deciding on an overall theme to picking out the colour palette and finding the perfect cot, you want every detail to be just right when your little one arrives.
It can be such a fun project and it’s often one of the first things expecting parents rush to do straight away. But you might want to be careful about the design elements you choose, they could have a bigger impact on your child than you think.
New babies are like tiny little sponges, constantly absorbing information as they begin trying to sort out the world around them. Visual stimuli is an essential part of this learning process. So while safety and comfort are obviously high on the list of nursery priorities, it can also help to consider your baby’s brain when choosing your decorations.
After all, this is the space in which your child will spend a great deal of his or her first years on earth, so it’s absolutely crucial that your baby’s room is as mentally stimulating as it is cosy.
One common misconception is that soft colours such as pastels and neutral shades are somehow better for their babies. While these gentle tones might be aesthetically pleasing to adults, they do almost nothing for your child.
In the first three months, your baby’s vision is very weak. Anything further than your face when you’re holding them will be blurry and they won’t be able to see colours, only detect light and dark. This means that a neutral, plain colour will be very dull for your baby to look at.
Why is this important? By stimulating your baby’s senses, you are strengthening the connections in their brain. This can help develop your child’s attention span and increase his or her ability to focus on, process, and memorise new information. This will do wonders for your child from early development on into adulthood.
Opt for patterns such as stripes and swirls, in high contrast colours such as black and white, to give your little one lots of visual stimulation in the first few months. When choosing colours go for yellow, blue, and red as these primary hues will be the first colours your baby can see when their vision develops in a few month’s time.
You could paint your own patterns on the walls, using masking tape to create the shapes. You could get creative and make the shapes into scenery, such as snow-topped mountains, clouds, and a sun, so it’s something you can enjoy too. Alternatively, pop some pictures into frames to make them easy to swap out as your baby outgrows them.
Toys and other play equipment can also help provide visual stimulation. For example, the Galt Playnest Farm (0 months +, RRP £29.99, available on GoodToyGuide.com) provides a soft resting area and a self-contained play environment for babies and toddlers, with bright vibrant shapes and a range of textures for sensory stimulation.
Although your baby won’t be reading yet, they’ll also love Campbell’s Baby’s Very First Faces (0-18 months, RRP £6.99). This cloth book features black and white pictures as well as crinkly pages for tactile fun and a mirror, so you can cuddle and have a flip through the pages together. The Lamaze range of soft toys also has bright colours and high contrast patterns for visual stimulation, from the Activity Spiral (0-12 months, RRP £18.99) to their cute clip-on Freddie the Firefly (0-24 months, RRP £9.99) for cribs and seats to animal-themed Mini Teethers (0-12 months, RRP £10.99).
You don’t need to turn your nursery into a massive swirling psychedelic mess to make it visually stimulating. But careful inclusion of bright colours and high contrast design elements here and there can be a great way to spur on your baby’s mental and physical development.
Article by Dr. Amanda Gummer, Child Psychologist and Founder of The Good Play Guide.
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