A Scientific Approach to the Newborn Baby’s Nursery Décor

A Scientific Approach to the Newborn Baby’s Nursery Décor

A Developmental Neurobiological Approach to Selecting Nursery Décor for your Baby’s Room

One might think newborns are oblivious to their nursery décor. And choosing artwork for the baby’s room might be one of the last times parents get to call the shots before those little ones start putting up pictures, posters and opinions of their own. But have you ever observed how some people seem to notice the details of their surroundings more than others? You may have thought this was just a difference in attentiveness but the reality is that individuals who tend to notice more detail in their surroundings may actually have better visual acuity. And that may have come about as a result of their having been exposed to more effective visual stimulation while they were growing up.

So while it’s easy to think newborns are oblivious to their nursery décor, scientists say that a majority of a newborn baby’s learning is visual so it’s important to pay attention to the nursery décor you choose for your new baby’s surroundings. The good news is that since visual development in the newborn starts with recognition of high contrast shapes and patterns you can save those cute woodland watercolors for later and instead start out decorating your newborn’s nursery with some nice minimalist, modern or cubist style art that you can repurpose for somewhere else in the house later on.

What Does the Science Say?

There are five stages of development of the human visual cortex. At birth the newborn baby’s retina- the layer of rod and cone photoreceptor cells at the back of the eye that responds to light and color – is not fully developed.  Infants don’t start to perceive color until after the second month.  Depth perception begins to emerge in the third month. Motion detection and contrast sensitivity continues to develop throughout childhood. Basic face perception starts at birth and continues to develop until early adulthood.

contemporary baby nursery decor

Before you Decorate: Start with the Planning

Once you’ve chosen a room or an area to set up for your newborn’s nursery it’s time to do some planning.  A well thought out layout for your nursery pays dividends later when you’re changing diapers and trying to get the little one to sleep.  Start with the walls and floors.  If walls need to be painted do that first.  If carpeting needs to be updated or new rugs put down get that out of the way too.  Then you can move on to laying out the furnishings.  This is an important engineering task as caregivers will often be alone while trying to change a wriggling and oftentimes uncooperative little one so be sure everything you need is within reach.  Cozy is good, cluttered is not.  And remember, this space needs to be easy to keep clean.

Visualizing the Room Decor

After the walls are painted and the floors are taken care of, it’s time to get to work laying out the furnishing, lighting, and window treatments. Then it’s time to think about how to liven up your newborn baby’s nursery walls.  Take a few pictures of the nursery walls and head over to Wall Decor Galore.  They have an amazing visualizer tool that allows you to upload your room photos and visualize exactly how a piece of art will look on your walls.  You can select paper or canvas prints, with or without a frame.  And you can move the artwork around on the wall and resize it to get just the right look.

Modern nursery decor

Decorating Themes Your Newborn Baby’s Nursery

Research has shown that a newborn’s visual cortex and the pathways connecting other brain regions are not fully developed at birth.  As is the case with other aspects of human cognition, stimulus is necessary to help develop the connections that will undergird later learning.  

Newborns start out by most readily comprehending shapes and sharp contrast. They distinguish  contours and borders more readily than shades or textures.  Black and white minimalist art is perfect for newborns to help them master eye coordination and learn to follow edges and discern shapes. So don’t be afraid to hang a bold modern art print in the nursery.  For the first few months this is the most effective stimulus you can choose for your nursery décor and later you have the added bonus of moving it to another room where you can give it a whole new life.

Infant Babies Love to Look at Faces

In addition to patterns, infant babies also have a natural preference for gazing at faces, be they human, animal or fantasy.  However, until three to six months of age their visual comprehension of shading, shadows and color is still undeveloped.  Studies have shown that when babies gaze at faces they tend to focus on the areas of greatest contrast such as the hair line, brows and eyes.  So, strange as it may seem, at least for the first months they have a taste for cubism.

These black and white cubist portraits aren’t what you’ll typically see in the child’s nursery but they do check all the boxes for newborn visual stimuli.  They are high contrast, simple black and white shapes with facial features that 0 to 3 month old babies are able to visually process.

If you want to stick with more traditional style nursery wall decor try to keep it to black and white, at least during the first 3 months.  And faces ae always a good choice.  These types of images will stimulate the newborn baby’s photoreceptor cells triggering signals along the optical nerve to different parts of the brain stimulating the creation of new connections that support the developing baby’s ability to process information and learn more about their world.

Art for newborn baby nursery
Decorating the newborn nursery
Colorful modern nursery decor

After about three months of age babies start to be able to perceive color.  But its still not quite time for those soft hued, cute and cuddly woodland  creatures just yet.  High contrast, bold, solid colors will be accessible to the infants visual systems first.   And keep in mind that in addition to selecting artwork that can be repurposed to other rooms, you also have the option of purchasing less expensive rolled paper prints that you can mount or frame yourself. 

newborn baby nursery wall art prints

Newborn to Toddlers

As your baby grows and gets older their visual perception abilities will quickly expand as well.  Around six months of age is a good time to start stimulating their attention to detail and comprehension of relationships.  More complex scenes and characters are appropriate choices for the six to twelve month old baby. 


You might think about coordinated themes using several different prints that help your baby start to understand connections and relationships between objects and/or characters.  For example you might choose three different animal prints with each one having different color balloons in the scene.  You can then help your child learn to spot the balloons and sort out the differences and learn which balloons go with which critter.  

Baby nursery wall art decor

Baby School


Personalized name décor is a great way to start introducing young toddlers to the alphabet and the written word.  From there you can move on to word art introducing values such as love, dreams, kindness and achievement.

Word art for baby nursery decor

Besides wall decor in the classic sense, you can use fiber art to add warmth, comfort, and a bit of tradition to your newborn’s room. Fiber encompasses art that comes in various sizes, colors, and shapes like crochet baby blankets, tapestries, embroideries, or dream catchers. 

Use Nursery Wall Decorative Features That Grow With Your Baby

A gallery wall of art is perfect for decorating a child’s room.  A gallery wall can capture their attention and help them learn to focus and look for detail.  Change and replace items to keep their attention or to adapt as your child grows and their needs and tastes start to change. As they get older involve them in the process to help teach them about collaboration.

Your newborn baby will soon become a toddler and moves from the crib to a bed, all the time interacting with their artistic companions. They’ll start naming them while teddy bears get invited to tea.

What Can You Use to Decorate Your Newborn Baby’s Nursery?

Modern newborn baby nursery wall décor goes better with the room’s overall design, including furnishings, wall paint color, and other features. With wall art, you can build the nursery’s aesthetics, while patterned or framed prints can elevate its ambiance.

You can either buy stylish wall art in every design and for each budget, or decorating your newborn’s nursery can become a DIY project for you and/or your partner. A few suggestions on finding or creating stellar newborn baby nursery wall art include; 


The easiest method of decorating your newborn baby nursery walls is wallpaper, and there are multiple options available with fun scenes or patterned prints. Artistic wallpaper creates a stylized theme and will fill the baby’s room with bold accents while adding texture to the walls. 

Although a time-consuming decorative method, wallpaper is sturdy and will last longer without tiring your child’s sense of adventure, especially if the design is timeless. You can either hire a professional to paper your newborns baby’s nursery prints wallpaper or give it some of your DIY spirit. 

Wallpaper has various price ranges according to the style, quality of the paper, its print, and it’s easy to remove. 

Wall-Hung String Lights

Drape string lights behind a furniture piece or hang them like curtains down the newborn nursery wall décor to create a dreamy, delicate ambiance for your little one. String lights will also work well as frames spread over the entire nursery or around baby elephant wall decor. 

Nursery string art lights with malleable wire strands will also allow you to shape them into icons or words using a bit of hardware and some creativity. Ensure that string lights are out of reach as your little one will soon be holding everything around them before they start crawling all over the place. 

Framed Wall Prints

A simple, quick, and wallet-friendly way to decorate your newborn baby nursery walls is framed prints. You can use your favorite family photos to add personality to the room and greet the baby each time they open their eyes. 

You can also complete a photoshoot of pets, parks, or flowers, seeking objects that complement the nursery animal prints or the general theme and décor. If you are not handy with DIY to make framed nursery wall art yourself, commission artwork, photos, or find stock pictures that can be printed and framed. 

For framed prints, the icing on the cake is the frame you select. A bold flourish vintage or a thin minimalistic black frame ties décor together and accentuates the nursery. 


While being super simplistic to create and customize, the garland is a favorite newborn baby nursery wall decoration. Other than custom, easy to hang, and adorable flags that have your baby’s name on them, you can get garlands of any color palette and materials like pom poms, beads, stars, or tassels. 

Add flair to your wall decorations for baby girl room by layering different textures and colors of garland over each other to cover the entire nursery’s wall. You can place garlands or wreaths in a frame shape around windows or highlight other statement wall art pieces. 

Do-It-Yourself Wall Art

By personalizing your art, you’ll add character to your newborn baby’s nursery, and such an exercise can be a photo moment for your child’s photo album. Using your color palette and a blank canvas that contrasts with the room’s theme, you can make abstract art for your baby’s nursery. 

Write inspirational calligraphy baby room quotes on stationary, framing, and then hanging them on the nursery walls. Stamp a heart using your painted hands for a cute DIY canvas art idea, and once your newborn has arrived, a smaller heart can be created using the feet. 

DIY canvas allows you to customize wall hangings nursery with words like ‘I’ll always be there for you,’ in your handwriting, a souvenir for baby so they’ll always know they have your support. 

Wall Art Decals

Wall art decals are easy to install and remove, completing your newborn nursery butterfly decor without overwhelming the general theme like murals. Popular and readily available baby nursery decals come in outdoorsy nature styles, with trees, mountains, clouds, and birds being the favorites. 

To give the newborn baby nursery’s walls character, you can get monogram decals that initial its name for further personalization. 

Floating Wall Shelves

Not only do shelves keep items well stored and other surfaces clear of clutter, but they also act as newborn baby nursery wall décor. Floating wall shelves can be hung off-center or at different lengths, adding dynamism in the nursery while decorating the wall with their wooden features.

You can also install regular-shaped or abstract floating shelves, which act as a decoration all by themselves. Shelves will later come in handy to put your toddler’s playthings away from the floor. You can stack decorative tins of crayons or building blocks in an attractive display. 


Art is an important component of your newborn baby’s environment.  Investing time and care in curating a proper selection of decor will have a meaningful impact on your child’s development. Understanding and adapting to their rapidly changing needs is an important part of caring for your newborn.