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Toys and Eye Safety

It's crucial for parents to know how to select toys that are the safest and the most beneficial for kids.

Babies are born with an only partially developed visual system. Nothing stimulates a child's visual development more easily than toys that encourage hand-eye coordination and a clearer understanding of spaces and distances between objects. Until they're 3 months old, babies can't fully differentiate between colors, so simple black and white images of things like bulls-eyes or checkerboard patterns are really helpful for stimulating visual development.

Children spend a sizable amount of time with their toys, so it's good for parents to know if those toys are safe or not. Firstly, to be safe, toys must be right for their age group. Don't forget to make sure that toys are developmentally appropriate, too. Despite the fact that toy companies include targeted age groups on the box, it's still important for you to make the call, and prevent your son or daughter from playing with toys that may cause an injury or loss of vision.

Look to see if your child's things are sturdily constructed so they won't fall apart when they're used, and double-check any coating (like paint) is not lead-based and not likely to peel or flake off. It's important to let kids be active, but they need to learn to be aware of balls and other things in the playground, like swinging ropes that can strike the eye. This can lead to real injury like a corneal abrasion, or a burst blood vessel. Even if there's no apparent injury, the impact can show up years later, in the form of something as serious as glaucoma.

Don't buy toys with edges or sharp components for a little kid, and be sure that things with long sticks, like pony sticks or toy brooms have rounded handles. Closely supervise toddlers when they play with those kinds of toys.

If your child is under 6, avoid toys with flying parts, like arrows. Even when they're older than 6, always closely watch children playing with those kinds of toys. Whereas, for older kids who have chemistry sets or woodworking tools, always make sure they have safety goggles.

So when you next find yourself shopping for the holidays, birthdays or other special occasions, keep a close eye out for the age and developmental recommendations on toys. Make sure that toys you buy won't pose any risk to your child.