For new parents, the idea of designing a nursery can be overwhelming. They can get caught up in Pinterest-inspired vision boards or exasperated by contradicting advice about what to buy and how much to spend. When that happens, it can help to pull back and focus on what’s important: the baby. The nursery should be a stimulating space that helps your baby learn and grow, and understanding their development in those early months can help guide your plans.

Brighten Up

Everywhere you look, it seems like pastels and minimalist design are requirements for baby rooms. And while that may look pretty to you, they do nothing visually for your baby. Research shows that when your baby is born, they can only see in black and white. Over the next few months their color vision improves until they are able to see in full color by five months. According to the experts at Gerber, “exposing them to as many hues as possible will help infants develop their vision faster.”

Children prefer brighter and more contrasting colors because they perceive them better than faint shades like light pink, gray or brown, so lean into that! Identify places where you can easily add color: paint a bright red accent wall, buy a deep green rug or choose striped yellow bedding for maximum visual stimulation.

Tropical fishMake Color Work for You

I know what you’re thinking. That sounds like a circus of colors in my well-decorated house! Well, there are ways to incorporate bright colors without creating a rainbow room. Pick three or four colors that fit your chosen theme to avoid a chaotic feeling. For example, if you’ve jumped on the gender-neutral under-the-sea theme, you can create a gallery wall of brightly colored sea life that will make your child’s eyes light up! By hanging lightweight but durable metal artwork, you’re avoiding the pitfalls of decals that don’t stick and the struggles of using paint stencils. Plus, you can update the pieces to match your growing child’s interests.

If you haven’t chosen a theme yet, you may want to consider one other area of research: the emotion of color. Doctors understand that color affects emotions and can have a significant impact on developing children, according to Sciencing.com. Blues and greens have a calming effect, while warmer shades like orange and yellow bring happiness and comfort. So keep that in mind when choosing your color scheme.

Shape Your Space

As you come to understand the psychology of color, consider that shapes can evoke different feelings too. Triangles symbolize energy and stability; hexagons represent unity; circles tie into femininity and infinity.

Colorful clockSince rectangles will be all over the room by default (crib, changing table, books, etc), find ways to incorporate a variety of other shapes. Floating hexagonal shelves add trendy flare to the walls, and geometrically patterned curtains can tie together different colors from the space. Or, if you’re a working parent who needs to keep an eye on the time (as well as your little one), use that to your advantage by adding a colorful circular clock to the space.

A Touch of Texture

Finally, use texture to expand your baby’s world by developing their sense of touch. While some textures may be a given–plush blankets, furry rugs, smooth book covers–others can help round out your child’s experience in the nursery. Consider wicker baskets for storing toys, a leather chair for nursing or a quilted blanket for story time.

Iridescent butterfly wall decorWhen making your selections, keep in mind that it’s important to stick to items that can withstand baby’s unpracticed manhandling. Dangly earrings in mom’s ears spark a baby’s natural curiosity because they reflect the light and catch baby’s attention, but that doesn’t mean you want to be nursing sore ears. Instead foster your child’s instincts in the nursery by adding shiny–but durable–accessories. One option is to hang floral or butterfly wall décor made of iridescent capiz shell which has an irresistible, glistening texture. They’ll turn any little girl’s room into a nature-inspired wonderland. Feeling overwhelmed again? Don’t be! You don’t have to have everything ready before baby is born. Start with a few colors and textures. As your baby develops, you can add new sources of stimulation that will create unique experiences along the way.

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