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Playing Safe: Kids and Eye Safety

Choosing the correct toys with eye safety in mind is a concern for all parents. How do parents choose toys that keep their kids' eyes safe?

Babies are born with an immature visual system which, through stimulation, develops throughout their growing years. Nothing stimulates a child's visual development better than playing, which encourages hand-eye coordination and learning about spatial relationships. The most effective toys that stimulate a baby's vision in his or her first year include geometric mobiles or colors, and activities that have interactive or removable objects, balls, books and puppets. In the initial three months of life, babies can't completely see color, so simple black and white images of things like bulls-eyes or checkerboard patterns are very conducive to encouraging visual development.

Since children spend a great deal of time engaged in play with their toys, it is up to us to be sure that their toys are safe for their eyes as well as their overall safety. A toy that is not age appropriate is generally not safe. And it is just as important to be sure that toys are developmentally appropriate, too. Despite the fact that toy manufacturers mention targeted age groups on toy packaging, as a parent, you still need to be responsible, and be sure your son or daughter avoids playing with anything that could be unsafe.

Blocks are a really good option for kids of most ages, but for younger children, it's crucial to check that there are no sharp or rough parts, to decrease the risk of danger to the eyes, or any other part of the body. Also, take note of toy size. If you have toddlers, a toy that can fit into their mouths is unsafe. Be on the lookout for objects that can be pressed or shaped into a smaller size as well. It's advised to put small toys aside until your child is more appropriately aged.

Stuffed, plush toys are best if machine washable, and, especially when it comes to smaller children, made without very small pieces can easily come off, like buttons or ribbons. Avoid toys that have points or edges or sharp components for a young child, and if your kids have toys with long handles, like pony sticks, always make sure the ends aren't sharp. Closely watch toddlers when they play with those kinds of toys.

If your child is under 6, stay clear of toys with flying parts, such as arrows. Even if a child is old enough to play with such toys, you still need to supervise kids playing with those kinds of toys. Whereas, for older kids who play with chemistry sets or woodworking tools, always make sure they have correct safety eyewear.

When you're next shopping for a holiday or birthday, pay attention to the age and developmental recommendations on toys. Make sure that there's no harm posed to your child - even if it looks like lots of fun.