Most pregnant couples find out they have a new baby on the way and commence to decorating the nursery, buying baby clothes and stocking up on baby toys. Rattles, teething rings, development toys, stacking toys, sorting toys and push/pull walkers are among the types of toys new parents will buy in preparation for their new baby’s arrival.
While most parents tend to lean toward soft, light-colored pastels when preparing for their baby, studies have shown that bright, high contrast colors, ranging from primary colors to stark blacks and whites, are better for a child’s eye development.
Plastic toy manufacturers harness the psychological, mood-affecting properties of color in the design of children's toys in an effort to produce toys that appeal to children in a way that promotes proper mental development.
The first five months of a baby’s life are extremely important to the proper development of the eyes, specifically the retinas, which lie at the back of the eyeball and allow a healthy adult to distinguish between the innumerable shades of colors, ranging from light to dark.
“Children tend to be attracted to the bright block colors of the color wheel rather than pastels or muted blends,” says Rachel Pancare of Sciencing.com, “Primary colors (red, yellow and blue) and secondary colors (green, orange and purple) are more appealing than light shades of pink and beige or neutral shades of gray and brown.”
A baby’s five senses are incredibly active during the first months of life. All of the input from each sense; taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing, causes nerve cells to multiply and strengthen. Color stimulation helps the optic nerve continue to form, which in turn affects brain development.
“Black and white or light and dark contrasting toys – mobiles, rattles, the first teddy bear, and other favorite toys will grab your baby’s attention better if they’re the right colors. Resist the pretty pale blue or green rattle and go for the black, white and red one!” explains AskDrSears.com.
If an adult wsere to walk into a room with fire engine red walls, he or she would probably be a little more anxious than if the walls were taupe or sky blue. This effect is even more pronounced in infants and toddlers.
Each of the primary and secondary colors tend to evoke a specific emotional/behavioral response in children, according to Color-Meanings.com:
Blue – Creativity and relaxation. Blue can be used effectively at nighttime before bed or when concentration is needed.
Red – Passion and strong emotions. Red works well during playtime and when used in conjunction with detail-oriented tasks.
Yellow – Happiness. Children tend to associate Yellow with sunshine and happiness.
Green – Relaxation and health – Children behave in more relaxed manner around the color green, so green toys used at naptime or bedtime are especially effective.
Purple – Attention. Purple can be used as an effective attention-grabber.
Orange – Critical thinking and memory. Orange is used in toys and activities that can require concentration and enhanced memory.
Evidence of the color/mood association can be seen in classrooms. Pre-school classrooms tend to use bright reds, yellows and oranges to foster creativity and happiness. Older children’s classrooms typically have cooler colors designed to help with concentration and relaxation.
The color used in plastic toys, delivered via masterbatch additives or color concentrate, isn’t chosen at random. On the contrary, toy manufacturers carefully choose which colors they are going to incorporate into toys based on the intended purpose of each toy.
Toys designed for daytime use, when babies and toddlers are wide awake, usually will make liberal use of bright reds, yellows, and sharp blacks and whites. The high contrast of the colors helps the development of child’s eyes and brain, while the colors themselves are designed to evoke responses appropriate to fun, detail-oriented activities.
Bedtime toys often employ blues and purples in order to help children relax and to grab their attention when it’s time to go to sleep. Brighter colors can be counterproductive to sleep and serve to excite toddlers.
Of all the different plastics used in the manufacturing of toys, polypropylene (PP) and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polyethylene (PE) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) are the most popular. These plastics can be used to build anything from Lego blocks to doll bodies.
Optical brightener additives, and various special effects additives (such as glow-in-the-dark, glitter, and metallic effects) can be mixed with masterbatches in order to give toys an extra, eye-catching flair. Ironically, where infants and toddlers are concerned, many of these special effect plastics are designed to appeal to the parents more than the kids.
Plastics Color’s Solutions Center employs a full staff of product marketing specialists who know the toy industry well and are familiar with toy color trends. Laboratory technicians, regulatory affairs experts are also part of the team that will work with you to develop your products.
To speak to a representative and launch your toy development process, please fill out the form at the bottom of this page.