Following tradition, blue signifies baby boys and pink signifies baby girls--but whether for infant clothes or nursery walls, not all baby-appropriate colors need be shades of pink or blue. Gender-neutral colors like yellow, white, brown, green and orange are fitting choices for boys and girls alike. Even better, all of these gender-neutral colors can be paired with various shades of blue or pink if desired.
Yellow is the time-honored gender-neutral baby color. When expecting parents don’t know whether they’re having a boy a girl, gifts tend to come in various shades of duck-patterned yellow. The color works quite well for either gender and also pairs well with other gender-neutral colors, like brown, green and white. Used in a nursery, yellow should be kept soft and pale, especially since bright yellow is the most eye-fatiguing color. Pale shades of yellow also pair well with pale pinks and pale blues.
Green, like yellow, is another traditionally neutral baby color. Quite often, gender-neutral baby clothes pair light or pastel green with pale yellow and white. Most shades of green--including kelly green, tea green, mint, celadon and moss--function as neutrals when paired with other colors. More than any other color, various shades of green harmonize well together--possibly because it's the easiest color on the eyes. According to Jessica Strand, author of “Baby’s Room: Ideas and Projects for Nurseries," green calms the nervous system and conveys a sense of balance.
Nearly all shades of orange work well for baby boys and baby girls. Orange is a warm, nurturing color that stimulates the eyes without irritating the senses, especially when used with white or light gray. Orange pairs well with pink and blue. In a nursery, wood tones further enhance the color’s natural warmth. A medium orange is more gender-neutral than light orange hues like salmon or sherbet, which tend to be more girl-specific.
Although white is technically the absence of all color, its qualities--purity, cleanness and innocence--work equally as well for baby boys as they do for baby girls. The danger of using white in baby clothing is that it soils easily, however, most baby basics are available in white, and it pairs with any color. In a nursery, white can be made warmer with ivory or cream, and any pop of color will take it in a different direction. A color scheme of white, turquoise and red makes use of two colors that are just shades beyond blue and pink, but still gender-neutral.
Chocolate brown is a popular gender-neutral color because it’s regarded as sophisticated when paired with a rose pink or a sky blue. Even though its neutrality is often used to complement the gender-specific colors, it also works well with the right shades of yellow, green, white, gray, orange or even red. Moreover, chocolate brown is such a deep, rich base color that it supports multiple additional colors in one design. For example, brown walls painted with randomly placed circles of red, gray, turquoise, and white represents a neutral multicolor scheme.
- “Feathering the Nest”; Tracy Hutson with L.G. Mansfield; 2009
- “Baby’s Room: Ideas and Projects for Nurseries”; Jessica Strand; 2002
- Baby-Room-Decorating-Idea.com: Baby Room Paint Colors – the Symbolism / Psychology of Colors
- Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images