Parenting Tips: Can Dad Decide the Color of Baby's Room?

When a new baby joins the family, it's normal for the couple to go through a re-organization of roles. A common struggle has to do with power and control. Who makes the decisions? About what? Who has "final" say about parenting? This often crops up in arguments about seemingly petty things; but they don't FEEL petty while we're in the midst of the struggle. I can't tell you how many times I argued with BabyShrink's Hubby about how often the stupid Diaper Genie needed to be changed. See reader Amy's question below for a similar struggle.Baby Painting Dear Dr. Heather,

My husband and I are disagreeing over what color to paint our impending child's room.

In a nutshell, this is the disagreement: I want to paint the room pale green; my husband wants to paint it orange. Yes, orange. I told my husband that orange is too vibrant for a baby's bedroom, that orange is a color that will stimulate the mind - possibly too much. The last thing I want is (another) child who won't sleep, and if there's a chance orange will enable or worsen daytime sleep problems, I do not want orange. He says it would be a light orange - but not peach - and that I'm crazy.

Thank you in advance for any help you can offer.



Hi Amy,

It is possible your baby MAY have some preference or reaction to a paint color, but not likely until she can look around and focus her eyes, and then only if she has a sensory issue. You won't know until you learn about your new baby's temperament.

But what I think is even more important (and probably the underlying issue?) is the question of Who Makes the Decisions About This Baby? Mom or Dad? Perhaps your hubby is simply looking for a way to feel he is contributing to the decisions being made about the baby. Many Dads feel pushed to the side; like they are "chopped liver" in the parenting department. Taking A Stand on a little issue like paint color might be the way he is asserting his parental authority; saying he cares about what happens when the baby arrives, and wants to be involved.

Dads often feel helpless and useless with a new baby. I remember a friend of ours, a tough guy named Zak. True story: Zak was "all guy", from old-school Boston. When he and his wife had their first baby, we asked him how it was going. "My wife does everything....feeds the baby, changes him, bathes him...all he wants is her. I want to help so badly, but it seems like there's nothing I can do. Last night I felt so frustrated I just went and sat in my truck and cried." We still have a good chuckle over the image of poor tough-guy Zak, crying in his truck.

But the message is poignant: Dads want to contribute...need to contribute...can contribute, in very meaningful ways.

Now I know that sometimes, their efforts can be...well, let's say, a little misguided. (I mean, seriously, orange?! I feel your pain!) But maybe this is an opportunity to make sure Dad has his say, and is made to feel like a partner in making important parenting decisions about this baby. It's an issue that will crop up over and over again while your baby grows through different developmental stages...a dance you and your hubby will continue to do together.

But the bottom line is, your baby will benefit from Dad's full participation, even if her room is day-glo orange.

Good luck, and happy painting!


Dr. Heather

The BabyShrink