After months of searching, your baby's nursery is finally decked out with the coziest rocking chair, prettiest night-light, and the sturdiest crib to keep your tiny sleeper safe. You're prepared with an industrial strength changing table and a never-ending supply of diapers, and you've got an arsenal of toys at the ready for free play.
But with all the focus on the items above, have you ever given a thought to how you'll use her room to boost your baby's creativity? If you haven't considered it, there's no need to feel blindsided. Instead, use the six easy nursery tricks below to get those creative juices flowing in your little one's mind:
- Choose clever colors. Skip picking a passé palette for the nursery—think outside of the "blue for boys" and "pink for girls" mentality. A 2002 study published in the March edition of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that the color green "facilitates creativity performance" and offers "a cue of growth-oriented mastery" in humans, so try a soothing sage or pale mint on one of the walls. If you're already committed to specific hues, don't despair: instead, amp up the creative factor with a whimsical mural or series of wall decals. Browse through the options online, and consider transforming a piece of your little one's room into a tranquil farm or enchanted forest.
- See starry skies. Eschew the expected mobile above your baby's bed, opting instead to plaster the ceiling with glow-in-the-dark stars. These softly lit decals give her something to focus on when the lights go out, creating a soothing space for your little one. If stars aren't your thing, other creative décor options include dream catchers, skylights or wind chimes. Once she gets a bit older, encourage her to talk with you or draw pictures about her dreams to keep her imagination strong.
- Try a new lullaby. Music is a proven tool for expanding creative thought, and babies' brains are more finely attuned to hear differences in music from other cultures. A paper in the 2005 issue of Current Biology states: "As we learn to discriminate the musical sounds in our own environment, we become less sensitive to those of other cultures—when it comes to listening to music, infants literally have a more open mind than their parents." Consider playing tunes beyond Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star as your baby nods off to sleep. Stock your budding musician's room with CDs like World Music for Little Ears, a compilation of global lullabies that features melodies from Africa, Brazil, Cuba, Wales and Ireland.
- Let the light shine. Though adorable night lights cast a pretty glow about the room, do your best to give your little one a space that also has a view of the outdoors. In addition to offering a look at an ever-changing world that's sure to spark her imagination, rooms that contain different sources of light (such as natural sunlight and soft lamplight) are believed to create a balanced space that's conducive to creativity, according to the ancient art of feng shui.
- Smell smart. Stocking your baby's nursery with scents that encourage creativity serves a dual purpose: it not only keeps your little one's brain at her best, but also masks any unpleasant odors from the changing table. To get you started, try room fresheners or scented plug-ins that offer a blend of cinnamon and vanilla, as these scents are used in aromatherapy to promote creativity and comfort. Jasmine improves sleep quality and cognitive performance for both you and your infant, so pick up fragrant candles or plug-ins in this scent to soothe her to sleep at bedtime.
- Tone down tech toys. A December 2010 study from the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine found that babies watching 60 minutes of TV daily had developmental scores one-third lower at 14 months than babies who saw less television. Clearly you should keep your baby's room TV-free, but it's also important to be sure that you don't inadvertently expose her to too much media by placing the nursery next to the living room or office. Additionally, minimize the presence of loud toys with flashing lights, computers and smart phones in the nursery. Strive to create a tranquil space to give your child stimulation-free time to let her imagination wander. To aid in the ambience, use a classic feng shui trick and choose natural resources like wood over man-made materials for the furniture.
With the wide array of options above, you're sure to create a nursery that engages your baby's brain and fits with your budget. As your little one grows older, continue to think of new ways to boost her creativity with room ideas that engage all of her senses and spark her imagination. Whether it's putting her art projects on display or reading a new bedtime story, the important thing is that you've created a space that gets those creative juices flowing!