What’s the New Neutral?

What’s more exciting for a knitter than finding out that a loved one is having a baby? There’s so many projects you can take on! Blankets, booties, dishcloths (hello, baby puke clean-up,) hats, toys… the list goes on and on. There are plenty of adorable pastel shades of soft yarn waiting to be turned into something cute for a little one. It’s the shades that can pose a problem, though. What if the sex of the baby is a surprise? Which gender-neutral color do you pick? And the bigger question, what colors are truly gender-neutral in today’s society?

I’m not the right person to be answering these questions as I believe all colors should be gender-neutral. Of course, the babies I’m crafting for aren’t mine and I know that not everyone thinks this way. Yellow and green, the two colors I thought everyone could agree are gender-neutral, may even be in question. I recently overheard a young man saying that you wouldn’t see a boy in yellow or a girl in green, they’re as gender-exclusive as pink and blue. I doubt everyone thinks this way, they’re probably still widely accepted for any baby, but there are people who are that concerned about gender-specific colors. It gets worse.

A baby blanket I made for a baby boy last fall

I ran into a family friend who was trying to find pyjamas for her pregnant daughter-in-law to wear in the hospital after delivering the baby. She was upset that she couldn’t find any nice blue ones. She refused to buy a lovely pair of pink pyjamas because she feared that later on, the baby, a boy, would look at the photos from the hospital and worry that his mother wanted a girl because she was wearing pink. Self-esteem isn’t the only thing people think that colors will effect, some believe baby clothes will change a person’s sexuality. Back when I worked at a family clothing store, I was helping a woman who needed pants for her infant son. She fretted over whether to buy jeans or khakis because she worried that khakis were too feminine. I assured her that we were in the boys section. She leaned in and whispered “I don’t want to turn him gay.” I stood for a few moments with my jaw on the floor, held back my shock, anger, and judgements (I had to keep it professional at work,) and pointed out that khakis were a staple in many men’s wardrobes. My professor told our class that she once dressed her daughter in red pants and her family freaked out, saying that red is a boy color so they must be boy’s pants. That was unacceptable to them. I don’t believe that a baby’s pants or his mother’s pyjamas are going to affect him later in life. Am I happy and straight now because I wore pink? Actually, based on my baby photos, I almost never wore pink. I wore red pants sometimes. But the point of these stories is that some people do think this way, and when making a gift for them, it should be pleasing to them. It’s not always the parents who think this way, but they’re the ones who will have to deal with relatives and acquaintances who worry about how they’re dressing their child.

The blue blanket all folded and ready to give.

No matter how open-minded anyone is about baby clothes, stereotypical colors do have their perks. Females and males look almost identical as babies. How many times have you used the wrong pronoun when asking about someone’s baby? Sometimes we need to see a pink bow on a baby’s head to save the awkwardness of “Aww, what’s his name?” “Oh, HEEEEEERRRRR name is Rosie.”

So what color to use? I’d love to use vibrant hues, but would people balk at peacock blue for a baby? It might be too close to navy blue for some to see it as neutral. I think teal is a great mix between the masculine, feminine, and soft baby-ness, but it might be too close to baby blue. White will show too many stains. I would make a baby blue blanket with white flowers to up the femininity, but it’s not baby-safe. Tan is a bit too dull for me. Black seems to harsh for a baby. Brown? Orange? A combination of a bunch of them?

Does adding a white flower to this blue octopus make it feminine enough?

The only conclusion I can come to is to ask the parents-to-be what colors they’re planning to use in the nursery or check out their baby shower registry to see if you can spot a color theme. What colors do you consider gender-neutral for a baby gift? If you’re an Etsy-seller, what gender-neutral color sells best? Are yellow and green becoming gender-specific? Would you be offended to get a teal blanket for a baby-to-be of an unknown sex? What’s the weirdest colored baby gift you received? What’s the ugliest? Let me know in the comments!

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About clln

I'm a crafty lady living in Rhode Island.
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