When you start to decorate your baby's room, it can be overwhelming. For instance, I just took a peek at Pinterest and lost 40 minutes of my life without blinking. But is there a deeper, cognitive concern related to things like color? What color should you paint your nursery? Is blue better because it's calming? Should you go for beige because it matches everything?
I have a degree in English literature. One of the first books I was assigned in my very first lit class contained the short story "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. It's about a woman whose physician husband basically locks her away in a nursery that's covered in smelly, ugly-patterned, yellow wallpaper. Her brain cracks under the weight of her solitude and confinement, and she eventually becomes obsessed with the wallpaper. I had such a strong reaction to this story, that to this day, the idea of a yellow wall terrifies me. When my husband suggested a pretty, buttery color for the nursery wall, all I could think of was the woman living in the wallpaper in that story and how I'd have to rip it all down to escape. I have a very active imagination and terrific recall for books, you see. The idea of painting my daughter's room yellow was abhorrent to me. But when I wondered what color should I paint the nursery, I honestly didn't think beyond that. In hindsight, maybe I should have.
The website for Dr. Sears advised parents that your tiny newborn is developing fast and requires stimulation for their retinal and cognitive development. Sears likened painting your baby's room in the soothing pastels everyone's accustomed to seeing to blindfolding your baby. Apparently surrounding your child with bold stripes and patterns in shocking black and white can stimulate your baby's brain and active cognition. According to the article, these things should be placed between 8 and 12 inches from baby's eyes. So why do the walls matter? Because that distance is only imperative for the first three months, after that, noted the website, baby's vision distance expands exponentially, and fast.
But Dr. Sears' opinion is not the only opinion. An article published in the International Journal of Pediatrics noted that because the nursery is not the only room your baby will be in, that it all comes down to the mood and emotion you want to project. Stimulation is all well and good, but do you want your baby stimulated at 3 a.m., or do you kind of want them a little bit blindfolded? If so, consider cool, muted blues and purples, which draw their eye without riling them up too much.
There is probably a happy medium in there somewhere. Perhaps you could surround your baby's sleep area with soothing tones, and the rest of the room with the bold stripes. There is so much conflicting opinion, in the end, it looks like the parental preference is as important as anything else. Go wild — fall into a hundred Pinterest holes. Enjoy the process because in a few years, your daughter will be demanding that she is allowed to paint her room pink and decorate it with her favorite YouTube stars, rosary collection, and huge pictures of Milan fashion shows. Enjoy the control you have while you have it.