It all started as an argument between my sister and me more than a year back. She, an artist, and I, a new mum, were on the brink of launching our own children’s merchandise brand. We were deep in discussion about products and designs.
She kept proposing design after design, which I, in my ‘new mum wisdom’ kept shooting down.
My biggest complaint was that she chose very “non childlike” colours.
“Which mother would want a dark blue, almost indigo, coloured quilt? Why are we using so much black? Look up any children’s design book, website or even Pinterest. They’re all about soothing, muted, classy, pastels”
“You’re a new mum! Go read up on stimulating your child with colours,” she retorted.
She was right.
While pastels do seem to be the go-to colour scheme for any new mother decorating a nursery, science suggests something else.
More and more research shows us that newborns can’t see too much. Any sense of colour or depth perception only comes in when they’re about 5 months old. Until then, they need to be stimulated with bright and contrasting colours. As far as they are concerned, soothing pastels are just a blur.
Some researchers take it a step further and recommend stark patterns in black and white to best stimulate a newborn. Black and White! Not your average ‘baby-friendly’ colours, are they?
Despite all this science, why, oh why, are we so fixated on pastels when it comes to decorating our nurseries?
Let me go back to my own experience. While the pastel blues, lavenders and mauves soothed me a lot during those sleepless nights, my son couldn’t care any less. He actually grabbed on to anything that was vivid, colourful and clearly defined.
As a matter of fact, the first colours he learned to identify were ‘black’ and ‘white.’ Then came the primary colours … and only later did he begin to understand pastels and different shades of the same colour.
Armed with this knowledge, we decided that the sky (and all its myriad hues) was the limit when it came to our designs. We weren’t going to be bogged down by conventionally ‘child-friendly’ colours. Black and White. A smattering of Indigo. Pink for boys and blue for girls … Turquoise, Coral, Teal.
We decided to overturn any colour ‘rules’ we had in our minds until then. It’s so much more fun to be able to play with an entire rainbow of colours on our palette, no?
PS – Does this mean our collection had no pastels at all?
Heck no! I told you the mama in me needed all the soothing I could get those initial sleepless months. Sometimes some baby things just need to be made for mama’s eyes only, right?