Today, having a child isn’t the big mystery it once was. Most parents now opt to know their baby’s gender long before delivery. Despite that foreknowledge of gender, I find many friends opt for gender-neutral designs for their baby nurseries.
I love that idea, but often “gender neutral” tends to translate as safe. There’s more than the color cream out there, folks. Here are ideas to consider for your gender-neutral baby room.
1. Play with color
Pink and blue are historically for girls and boys respectively, but it’s time to move beyond that idea.
Embrace color and contrast, have fun with your baby’s room. Instead of thinking blue can only be for boys, think about using something that works for both genders like a nice Robin’s Egg Blue or Tiffany Blue. Contrast it with vibrant colors like orange, red, and yellow.
Greens and purples are also great for both boys and girls. High-contrast colors may scare you when you’re painting with them, but they’re really great for stimulating babies and toddlers, so it might be good if you dial up some color bravery.
2. Use patterns
Babies see in basically black-and-white, fuzzy tones of light and dark, for the first few weeks, and colors don’t even register until a couple months in, let alone shapes. Accordingly, babies respond well to high-contrast and vivid primary colors for several months, and they won’t see as well as an adult until they’re a year old.
Using large patterns can create interest and be visually stimulating for babies, and using high-contrast patterns helps their eyesight develop. Therefore, consider geometric wallpaper, or large, bold stencils, and printed fabrics, including black-and-white designs.
Think polka dots, stripes, squiggly lines, big fluffy clouds, dolphins, teddy bears, and more. All of these can make wonderful motifs or murals on walls, and you can stick to simple shapes rather than more life-like depictions.
3. Pick a theme
There are many theme room ideas that would appeal to boys and girls as they grow into toddlerhood, but suit your baby’s early curiosity.
Oceans are a rich topic for theme bedrooms for kids. You can go under the sea to create a fish-and-shell-filled wonder world with kelp and octopii and lots of other amazing imagery. Or you can pick a beach-side theme filled with sandcastles and sailboats and birdies and buckets and all kinds of fun things they’re going to be in love with by the time they’re 18 months old.
The great outdoors are always full of ideas for babies and toddlers too. Whether you’re going with a jungle theme full of monkeys and gorillas and birds and lemurs, or the African Savannah with lions, tigers, and giraffes, there’s lots of excitement to be had, and educational material to talk about as they grow up. Even a walk in the forest is a nice theme, with owls and bears and raccoons and squirrels.
Closer to home, “around the farm” is a great idea — filled with dogs and cats, big fences and rolling fields, horses and cows, barns and hay, cowboys and cowgirls. It’s an ever-popular topic most kids love.
Further astray is the great cosmos. Whether you embrace outer-space filled with galaxies and suns and planets, or opt for a Van Gogh-ish “starry night” sort of room, you’re sure to have your child grow up to have his or her head in the clouds.
Speaking of heads, never forget the endless appeal of learning. Whether you choose imagery from all your favorite childrens’ books (think Seuss and Pooh and the Velveteen Rabbit) or you go for the ABCs-and-123s, there’s nothing to lose from turning your kid on to words and numbers in their earliest days.
Whatever you choose, make sure your baby’s first room is a place they’ll love in a year, two, or three. Fill it with things that make them smile. Make it comfortable and safe.
If you’re still stressing out about the idea, remember — for the first couple of months, your baby can barely even make out light and dark, so you’ve got time to figure it out after their big, wonderful entry to the world.