While I’ve worked on children’s rooms before, spending as much time as I do in Baby Herzig’s nursery these days has given me a renewed perspective on the importance of inspiring the youngest art observers among us. They say the shoemaker’s children are never shod, and in fact, when she arrived, her room was a blank slate. In the months since, I’ve had a lot of fun figuring out just what images seem most compelling to her infant eyes.

Like any installation project, the budget can range from high to low; start your little aficionado off with a blue-chip base, or go with posters and prints and build from there. Some favourite suggestions below…

Artful Animals

Babies have a preternatural kinship with other miniature beings. They recognize and seem to feel a familiarity in puppies, piglets, and similar-sized friends. I’ve been lusting after Les Lalannes’ classic animal sculptures since long before our daughter’s arrival.

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(Left): Claude Lalanne, Petit Lapin Debout a Collerette, 2006, bronze. Image courtesy of Paul Kasmin Gallery. (Right): François-Xavier Lalanne, Singe Alternatif, 2011, zinc. Image courtesy of Ben Brown Fine Arts 

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Francois-Xavier Lalanne’s Mouton de Pierre, a group of 10 sheep sculptures which sold at Christie’s New York in 2011 for $7.47 million

For an easily accessible dose of adorable, Sharon Montrose‘s baby animal photos are terrific hung as a pair, or an entire gallery wall for maximum impact.

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The Animal Print Shop by Sharon Montrose

 Sharon Montrose photographs, images courtesy of The Animal Print Shop

Cute Overload

Back in 2008 when the Brooklyn Museum staged a major exhibition of Takashi Murakami‘s works, I watched a toddler, overcome with the show’s psychedelic stimuli, run straight into one of the wall-sized paintings, yelping with glee and pounding his little fists on the artwork. Remarkably, the picture survived unscathed, and Murakami’s genius was confirmed to me; any artwork which could elicit such wild exhilaration from a viewer, regardless of age, was a successful one in my eyes. Given Murakami’s prolific output, his aesthetic an be incorporated into a child’s room in manifold ways, from top-of-the-market paintings to stuffed plush toys.

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 (Left): Takashi Murakami’s lithograph, An Homage to Yves Klein Multicolor B, 2012. (Right):  A plush doll in the same vein, at Gagosian.com

Bold Graphics

Though pastels are traditional for baby’s rooms, experts often recommend strong black and white images, which are clearest for them to distinguish. Encouraging perception and good taste early on is easy with Keith Haring‘s graffiti-based artworks, which are virtually synonymous with graphic punch. The bold lines of his tiny rocker and pint-size chairs, manufactured by Vilac in France, are just the thing to hold baby’s gaze, and would be right at home in a cutting-edge baby room.

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 Keith Haring wooden rocker (left), and child’s chair (right), from Vilac France

It didn’t take long to notice that Baby Herzig’s favourite thing to look at are faces. Julian Opie‘s colourful works and simple lines have been particularly popular with her.

Instilling a love of art early on is as easy as a stroll through any museum, or browse through a picture book (like Counting With Thiebaud). Personally, I’m excited for the day that baby girl can give her own feedback and opinions! Happy Mother’s Day for all the hardworking mamas out there—enjoy every moment with your little masterpieces.