University research in Newcastle is showing that women really do have a preference for colours in the red spectrum. Some wonder if it goes back to our distant hunter-gatherer ancestors, whose womenfolk needed to scour the landscape for edible red fruits and berries. But as for babies, it wasn't until the 1920s that westerners began to stuff their babies into coloured clothing – and then girls were in powder blue and boys in blush pink. About 20 years later the colours switched and have stayed the same way ever since.
Today, when scans can tell parents an infant's sex months before due date, friends and family can opt for pink or blue gifts before baby arrives. Or, if parents decline to find out or don't want to share their secret, there's also cream, green and yellow to choose from.
It's important, of course, for littlies to grow up comfortable in their gender, so giving them colour clues that their society accepts and understands is no bad thing. And I suppose it's why no-one ever dresses a baby in lavender, halfway between pink and blue. Altogether too confusing!
But I don't know why we stick with pale, washed-out shades for babies. No reason why we can't splash out, is there? I knitted a pair of booties recently - the first ever in my life - and went for scarlet. My grandson Louis has the hottest feet in town.