Decorating a Nursery Room? Here's What Your Infant Will Really See

The big secret about nurseries? They’re not for babies! Maybe dad's insisting on a baseball themed room, or you both want a Parisian-inspired nursery to commemorate your baby’s conception... A baby will be happy with any bed or changing table. But those murals, themes, and accessories are really more for you. So go all out and decorate away to your heart's content.

BUT, you may want to consider a few items for the early stages of your baby’s developing eyesight. Important growth in the brain happens early on, and there are ways you can stimulate it and give your newborn a healthy start:

Standard Protocol

Regardless of the theme, you’ll want to consider a few visual basics while planning your nursery.

  • Choose a warm space with natural lighting.
  • Keep the baby’s sleeping area away from a window. 
  • Add black-out curtains to promote a good sleeping environment for napping and bedtime. 
  • Consider overhead lighting with a dimmer switch that will make nighttime diaper changes and feedings a little less startling.

50 Shades of Blur

At birth, your baby can only see clearly about 8-12 inches away. At about six weeks, that sight distance will double. The ability to decipher color hasn’t been fully developed at birth either. The retina, which is the back layer of the eye that detects light, can only distinguish between light and dark or black and white. So, while the nursery may have been decorated in bright, primary colors, she only sees the colors blurred together.

Black and White

If you want to send the strongest visual signals to your baby’s brain, include some black and white features in the nursery accessories. Research has proven that the sharp contrast of black and white or even light and dark colors stimulate his retina, and therefore stimulates more brain growth and faster visual development. In addition, your baby also will find distinctive geometric shapes and patterns (in black and white) visually stimulating.

Nursery Themes

You certainly want to offer your baby the best visual start in life, but does that really mean you have to paint your nursery in black and white with large geometric shapes on the walls? No. Remember, your baby’s vision will be constantly improving. So go ahead and create the nursery fantasy of your dreams, and incorporate black and white in visual play (say, high-contrast play mats) for your infant instead.

Early Visual Cues

You don’t want to overwhelm your baby with too much stimulation and playtime during the first few months. Experts recommend a few minutes each day for visual stimulation. Here are a few ways you can do this:

  • Surround baby’s play area with stripes. Use a store bought, attention-grabbing black and white striped book. Or make your own with cardstock and a felt-tip black marker to draw pattern and shapes (make them as angular as possible!).
  • Purchase a few black and white striped toys and hold them about 8-12 inches from your baby’s face. Your baby will focus on them and be mesmerized.
  • Purchase or make your own mobile with bold, moving patterns. For the early weeks, place the mobile no further than 12 inches from her face. Later, you can change the mobile to a more colorful version and place it further away from your baby’s reach.


At six weeks, you can start unpacking all the vibrant color rattles, toys, and mats that everyone bought for your baby shower. During this time, your baby will begin to decipher red, green, yellow, and even blue a little while later. She can now focus up to 23 inches. Depth perception is developing but won’t be fully developed for another month or two. She can see individual features on your face and therefore, gravitate and even reach for your lips or nose.

At ten weeks, tummy time is encouraged to build upper body strength. Brightly colored tummy-time mats and toys will excite and entertain your little one, while providing the visual stimulation he needs. Offer an unbreakable mirror, and watch in delight as he becomes fascinated by his own, adorable face.

How did you decorate your little one’s nursery? Have you incorporated any high-contrast decor or toys? Let us know in the comments below!

Suggested Products

Dundry Hill Merino Wool Mobile

Popeline Deco Mountain Play Mat

Yayo Handmade Boutique Sensory Toy

Images from Houzz

Tags : home   nursery   baby   

Suzanne Reyes
I did our nurseries entirely in black and white and loved it (still do). It's so classic and timeless. Good to know there were developmental benefits too.