When do kids start having color preferences?
July 19, 2017 10:07 PM   Subscribe

I'm in my early 30s so for the past few years it has been a baby explosion among my friends and extended family. Being a crocheter I have enjoyed making baby things for everyone. Now though, the toddlers have outgrown most wearables and I would like to make bigger versions of favorite hats and sweaters and the like, but I've got it in my head to ask the kids themselves for favorite color requests. How young does this typically start up?

This is really about timing the projects so I'm done with some things earlier and some in time for winter holidays and birthdays early next year and possible new pregnancies and toddlers who would appreciate a special just for them thing in light of a new sibling and so-on. I've got a range of kiddos from 18 months to five years who I love to make things for, but the closest I've gotten to involving the kids themselves in color selection and not going with what I know of parental aesthetics was making a Seahawks colored hat for a little fangirl so she could match her dad on game days.

I remember being very young and expressing strong color preferences early, and apparently my love of plum purple started as young as two years old (and has maintained for thirty more years.) Unfortunately almost all of these kids are long distance so I can't bring them to the yarn store and plop a bunch of colors in front of them to see which ones they grab. So asking parents it is, but I don't want to ask them for information that is unlikely to exist yet. My familiarity with the developmental stages of young children extends about as far as hat sizes and if they should be eating solid foods and that's it. When do they start having favorite things that don't change every two days?
posted by Mizu to Society & Culture (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know when kids begin to develop favorite colors, but they often can't name all the colors at age 3. That comes later. So they might not be able to articulate a color preference.

At this young age, they might be better able to express a favorite toy or character, like your SeaHawks pal.

Are you in the US? At this age, for little girls, so much is pink and purple. Unless the parents work very hard to avoid these colors and choose more gender-neutral clothes and toys, most little girls will be surrounded by pink and purple.

For boys there's more variety, but blue and red are super common. Maybe with a splash of green and orange.
posted by bluedaisy at 10:40 PM on July 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

I think this would be the type of thing that would vary strongly based on individual personality, parents, culture, etc. Like, for me it literally did not occur to me that people had colours they liked and didn't like until I hit school-age and was baffled by these grown-ups who kept on expecting me to have a ready answer when they asked me about my favourite colour. Um, they're all nice? This is something I honestly still don't entirely understand as an adult
posted by btfreek at 10:44 PM on July 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

Just to drop in, yes, I'm in the US, but all the parents I know are very soured on pink and purple to the point where I'm absolutely only going to go with those as primary colors if a kid specifically requests it or it matches a favorite character/theme.

This is part of why I'm asking the question. I know girls end up gravitating to pink and purple and buys get stuck with blue and red (yaaawwwnnn) really early and I'd like to offer them choice and autonomy in something made only just for them as soon as possible, because it's just a small thing and small things are important but easy for me to fulfill.

Okay no more threadsitting, thanks for your input :)
posted by Mizu at 11:06 PM on July 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

In that case ask the parents about fav characters and align colours or even incorporate characters if they lend themselves.
posted by koahiatamadl at 12:30 AM on July 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Seconding three as the age where meaningful prefeeences kick in. Well. As meaningful as colour choices go.
posted by jojobobo at 12:45 AM on July 20, 2017

Granddaughter, age 2 identifies all colors including pink, grey and white but doesn't have any preferences yet. Grandson, age 5 has had color preferences since he was about 3, but they change every few months and sometimes minute to minute.
posted by lois1950 at 1:28 AM on July 20, 2017

Variegated yarns could address some of this. My daughter would also have worn anything sparkly starting around 2 or 3 but I know that kind of yarn often isn't as soft so they might not like wearing stuff made with it as much. Matching colours to something special would likely go over well.
posted by melissa at 1:59 AM on July 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

I agree with 3, from the experience with my kids.
posted by Gomez_in_the_South at 2:34 AM on July 20, 2017

My kid's almost three and purple's been his favorite color for well over a year (before that, it was yellow). So it depends on the kid, and doesn't hurt to ask. The good news is that there aren't yet any colors he won't wear.

In addition to favorite characters (which is harder if the parents are insistent on no screentime), ask about animals and toys they're into. Maybe the kid doesn't have a color preference, but won't go anywhere without their stuffed orange dog.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:01 AM on July 20, 2017

Eh, I think this varies hugely based on the kid. Both of mine were very, very interested in colours and knew all their basic colour words at about 20-22 months. Even at that age they had robust colour preferences. My eldest strongly preferred brown from 18 months (it was the first colour word he knew) until he was over three years old. My youngest (now two years old) has preferred black ever since he could distinguish it as a colour, which is about a quarter of his life at this point. These preferences are evident not just by what they say but also things like, e.g., when drawing they would always pick that colour, they'd like clothes of that colour best, etc.

Obviously children vary considerably on this, but I can't imagine that any parent or child would be offended at a question like "do they or you have any colour preferences?" so I think you should just ask, and be prepared for a wide spectrum of possible answers.
posted by forza at 5:54 AM on July 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

My older son pointed at orange things when he was 14 months and cried if he was not dressed in something orange, red, or pink. (He still picks those colours and he's 11. It's cool to hear your plum purple has stuck.)

My younger son doesn't seem to care a whit and he's 6. So I think it varies quite a bit.

I agree though that asking the parent is the best way around this.
posted by warriorqueen at 6:27 AM on July 20, 2017

Yeah, I think 3 is a bit old. My oldest son was talking about his favorite color at 2 years old (and it's still his favorite color at 5), and my 2.5 year old twins regularly scream and cry if the other one gets the color bowl they want. As soon as we say that it's time for "berry salad" (dessert), Maya starts yelling "Bue, Bue, I want Bue. I want Bue." because she wants to make sure she gets the blue bowl.

One thing to keep in mind is that young kids, more than adults, live in a world of color. They have all this plastic crap for eating and drinking, and it's all colored and usually comes in sets of different colors. By contrast, my wife and I use white plates, stainless utensils, and glasses. In my experience kids develop preferences early.
posted by OmieWise at 7:03 AM on July 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

I remember around 3 starting to have a preference for green and dark blue-purple (I'm a woman but resisted pink if possible, though I certainly got a fair bit of it as gifts). I think my favorite thing though from that age (3-5) was a sweater knitted for me by a family friend in variegated yarn colors of red, blue and green. (That sweater got handed down to my younger sister as well, and she liked it too.)
posted by gudrun at 7:23 AM on July 20, 2017

My daughter had strong clothing preferences before she turned two, even if she couldn't always articulate them in grown-up sentences. What about sending pictures of four or five options that they can point to if they're at the younger/less verbal end of the spectrum?
posted by Night_owl at 7:30 AM on July 20, 2017

There's absolutely nothing wrong with asking "does kiddo have a favorite color or any other preferences you know about?" I mean, it would be ok not to ask and just do whatever - it's still lovely of you to be making something for them - but if you want it to be used, it would be much better to ask. Kids can have strong preferences on colors and even other things (like fringe vs no fringe, thin cool yarns vs warm cuddly ones.) But they may not know or care, of course. Just ask! And bless you for making these things. My almost eight year old still keeps her newborn handmade baby blankies around her for comfort... you may be making a lasting treasure.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:55 AM on July 20, 2017

My niece has been quite clear on how much she likes orange since she was two. Maybe not right when she turned two, but by Christmas of that year, her colour preference was absolutely clear. She doesn't wear a lot of orange because she also likes sparkly things and orange is coded as a boy colour in the pantheon of toddler clothing so most of her clothing is pink and purple instead.

Now, at 4 nearing 5, she likes all the colours, and I quote: "Orange and pink and red and orange and blue and purple and orange and green and orange."

When we were decorating cookies a few weeks ago and she was allowed to choose colours, she still chose orange first.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:54 PM on July 20, 2017

Haha, I love reading these stories about kids and their colors!

I'm not worried about offending parents by asking, I just know that some of these folks are easy to worry and it'll turn into a whole "my kid doesn't have a favorite color, is there something *wrong* with them???" and ugh, no, I will not be the childless friend/weird auntie who contributes to that mess.

So I'll wait on the current two year olds until holiday time, and the even younger ones get next year projects, but three and up I'll ask and sort out the schedule of projects for late summer through halloween. Thanks for the information, child-havers of Mefi!
posted by Mizu at 5:20 PM on July 21, 2017

« Older How to survive working in a warehouse   |   What would you do with this space? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.