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Choosing Your Nursey Colours

The arrival of a new baby is a much anticipated event, particularly if it is the first one! Planning and decorating a nursery therefore can be one of the happiest times for a family. You want the room to be right for the newborn but also a place of refuge for parents too. Babies don't see colour properly until they are about 6 months old? While their eyesight is developing they will see red first and then progress towards seeing blue. People claim that to begin with, babies only see black and white, but it is far more complex than this and studies have shown that they do begin to see some colour from a very early stage.

The Psychology behind how to choose colours for a Nursery

Children respond well to colour. They love it and learn a lot by being surrounded by it. Hattwick and Alschuler have studied children's paintings and are quoted as saying “Colour, more than any other single aspect of painting, has been of particular value in offering clues to the nature and degree of children's emotional life”. They have found that infants are influenced by luminous colours such as yellow, white, pink and red.

The warm colours of the spectrum

It is believed that warm colour preferences suggest an intimate relationship with the visual world. Warm feelings are expressed in this environment with extroverts preferring the warmer colours of the spectrum.


In addition to a psychological effect on the mind, the colour red also has a physiological affect too. Red will make the pulse quicken and stimulate our appetites. It is worth noting though that this physiological response only lasts for a very short time and the body adjusts, so this is certainly not a reason to shun red and other warmer colours.

As this is the first colour that a baby will see it is excellent to use in toys and in small amounts in artworks to stimulate a baby. Try to avoid using this in bedding or other accessories in a nursery. Red is however a gorgeous warm colour and this is why pink has become so popular for nurseries. Pink has soothing and restful qualities and symbolises love and affection.


Orange is the convivial colour of the spectrum and loved by gregarious souls with an outgoing personality. In its full saturation, this is still too bright for a nursery but in its incarnations of soft terracotta and coral, you get the same happy and uplifting feeling, without the brightness. A neutral with this base is actually perfect for a nursery.


Yellow is a classic nursery colour and often used for a gender neutral scheme. Babies love it but as we age, the preference for it declines. Bright yellow should be avoided. Great for short periods of stimulation, but when used as a bright wall colour, it promotes feelings of unease and grumpiness.

The cool colours of the spectrum


Blue has the opposite physiological effect on the body to red. It will lower blood pressure and pulse rate and lessen the appetite. The most conservative of the colours, with its shorter wavelengths, this is not seen as a preference for infants. Pale blue though is a very restful colour but avoid large expanses of it without visual relief as it can be too cold and bleak.


The appeal of green is that it is a neutral. The eye doesn't need to adjust to see it and it is therefore the most relaxing of all the colours in the spectrum. It isn't one of the luminous colours that infants respond to but it's tranquility makes it an excellent backdrop for other colours.


Purple is generally not seen as a Nursery colour. Children don't particularly respond to it and with its mystical associations, it is perceived as an adult colour. In its lighter incarnations, lavender and soft violet, it is far more approachable but can be a little flat and cool on a large expanse of wall.

Black and White

The neutrals of white, black and grey are rarely favourites for children. A white wall without any visual relief can promote eyestrain and the monotony of a blank wall can be as damaging as a full-on jumble of saturated colour for a baby.