We all have our favourite colours, and babies are no exception. We take a look at how colour can have a positive, and negative, effect on our children and how to harmonise their feelings. (It might help them sleep better too!)
How colour affects us
Psychologically, colours can have an amazing effect on each and every one of us. For example, the reddish glow from a roaring fire helps us feel warm and cosy, while a deep blue sea is calming and relaxing. Think of a refreshing scene and you may picture a walk in the English countryside - all green and spring-like. And there’s nothing like a bright sunny day, bathed in a yellow glow, to cheer us up.
We don’t just develop an appreciation for colour as an adult. Babies and children are also affected by it – both positively and negatively. Colour therapist June McLeod, who worked with a nursery childcare organisation on a study about colour, has seen at first hand how the proper use of colour can have an extremely positive effect on the children involved, including the following advantages:
- improved emotional development in children
- increase in children sharing and co-operating
- noise levels were decreased
- children found it easier to organise their own thoughts. This could
lead to better intellectual development in the long term
- tension and aggression were reduced
- babies slept more easily and peacefully
- a calmer, happier and more relaxed environment was created!
So how can you capture these benefits at home? Read on!
Create a calmer environment
You may think pastel colours for babies are a bit boring and old fashioned but there’s some sense in choosing pale pinks and blues for babies’ bedrooms (not that you should feel restricted by their sex on your choice!). “Babies are far happier surrounded by calming soothing pastel shades,” says June McLeod. “These new little people have a lot of adjusting to do and thrive in a calming environment. Avoid busy patterns and strong colours in their rooms as this will encourage hyperactivity, lack of sleep and restlessness.” If you’re preparing your baby’s room, and don’t know the sex, you could opt for a calming pale lilac, which is suitable for both sexes and has an equally calming effect.
In terms of toddlers, colour can be used effectively to help stimulate intellectual development. “However,” warns June, “toddlers can only take short bursts of time in ‘loud’ colourful environments. Bright, primary-coloured environments can be beneficial for short periods of time, but not for full days, as strong colours will bombard their senses.” In order to avoid overstimulation (essential in most active and excitable toddlers!) June recommends sticking to calm pastels on walls and introducing the brighter primary colours with toys, equipment and soft furnishings. “Brightly coloured toys can then easily be moved or stored away to create a more restful atmosphere for quiet times.”
To encourage peace and tranquillity in the bedroom, June advises using a coral/peach/soft pink shade on the ceiling space. “Your child will spend time each day and night looking at the ceiling and these colours not only encourage intellectual development but also create the feeling of a safe & secure space.”
Know your colours!
If you’re now worried that an incorrect colour choice will result in endless tantrums and sleepless nights, fear not. The general colour rules are relatively easy to follow. “Red, orange and yellow are considered ’magnetic’ colours,” explains June. “They make a strong impact, are warm, energising and uplifting. On the other hand, blue, indigo and violet are ’electrical’ and, therefore, are cool, soothing and calming. Green lies in the middle of the spectrum; being neither warm nor cold; it creates balance. We often retreat to the green of nature when we need space, calm and a sense of peace. Using green within décor will help to create a feeling of harmony and balance.”
Colour therapists use a special colour grid to choose the right colour to promote physically and emotionally wellbeing. Here are some tips to consider if you are about to paint the nursery!
|Red symbolises fire and, as such, stimulates and excites the blood|
and nerves! It helps to revitalise you when you’re feeling tired
and lethargic and can be effective against colds and chills. According
to the health website www.ventris.org.uk, surrounding yourself with
red will help wounds heal faster, while draping a red towel over
your head will speed up recovery from a headache! One word of warning
though: red can raise blood pressure (think about the phrase ‘seeing
red’) so use in moderation.
Orange reputedly strengthens the lungs, pancreas and spleen. By
warming the emotions, it creates a sense of well-being and can increase
vitality and appetite. Said to be good for muscle cramps, asthma,
bronchitis and colon cleansing!
Yellow is a lovely, sunny, positive colour and is said to help
the nervous system and intellect – so if you want to either increase
your brain capacity or facilitate conversation, use it in rooms
where you talk or study! Yellow allegedly helps the liver to eliminate
toxins, alleviates skin problems, purifies the intestines and aids
the mind with problems such as nervous exhaustion and depression.
Also useful for indigestion and constipation.
A useful colour for both adults and children. In children, pink
stimulates creativity and strength. In adults it soothes violent
feelings and anxiety, which could be why it is used in prisons or
hospitals dealing with mental illness. If you suffer from insomnia,
trying sleeping between pink sheets!
Green is always associated with nature and, therefore, its harmonising
effects are already obvious to us. Green symbolises new life, freshness
and brightness and can help with high blood pressure, heart problems,
headaches and flu. Be warned though – too much green can leave you
feeling too relaxed (if that’s possible!).
Blue acts completely oppositely to red. It contracts and restricts
rather than stimulates, and is antiseptic and cooling, helping the
body slow down to fight diseases with a fever and calm down after
a shock. Blue can bring peace of mind which is useful when there
has been too much mental exertion and exhaustion. However, as the
saying ‘the blues’ goes, too much exposure can leave you feeling
down in the dumps.
An essential colour for people who are naturally highly strung
and anxious because of its soothing and tranquillising effect! Violet
is said to help develop a person’s spiritual and intuitive side
so it’s a handy colour for meditation. Physically, it can be used
for all mental and nervous afflictions.