How Do Bright Colors Appeal to Kids?

By Rachel Pancare; Updated April 24, 2017
A baby girl sitting in a colorful activity chair.

Children take in the world around them through their eyes, and bright colors are one of the first aspects of sight that help them distinguish form and categorize objects. At around 5 months, according to the American Optometric Association, children can see colors pretty well with their still-developing vision -- though distinguishing bright colors comes easier. As children age, they continue to be drawn to brighter colors. Color has also been known to affect their moods and behavior.

Colors That Appeal to Children

A child playing on a colorful jungle gym at the park.

Children tend to be attracted to the bright block colors of the color wheel rather than pastels or muted blends. 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. For this reason, the food and beverage industries, as well as the toy industry, have use bright colors to market children's products.

Reasons Children Like Bright Colors

An overhead view of a young boy painting at an art table.

Children prefer brighter colors from an early age because their eyes are not fully developed yet. They can actually perceive these colors better than fainter shades. Bright colors and contrasting colors are more likely to stand out in their field of vision. As children constantly strive to make sense of their environments, objects that are stark and bright are more stimulating and interesting. One of the first ways they learn to sort things is by color, and colors are some of the earlier words they tend to learn -- so these easily named, more basic colors are appealing.

Color and Mood

Young girl looking at colorful toy in store.

Colors have long been said to affect people's moods and can have a significant effect on developing children. Warmer colors like orange and yellow bring happiness and comfort. Red has been known to increase the heart rate and therefore increase alertness and the appetite, while cooler colors like blue and green tend to have a calming effect. Teachers and parents may consider the ways in which color affects children's moods when they design their classrooms or bedrooms.

Color and Associations

Young boy playing with yellow toy car.

Colors are a concept children learn from a young age as they begin to associate colors with particular objects. For instance, they may associate red with apples, orange with oranges, yellow with bananas or the sun, green with grass, blue with sky or water and purple with grapes. Bright colors are also believed to have deeper associations. For instance, red is often connected with passion, green with nature and blue with sadness.

About the Author

Rachel Pancare taught elementary school for seven years before moving into the K-12 publishing industry. Pancare holds a Master of Science in childhood education from Bank Street College and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Skidmore College.