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Kids and Eye Safety

Understandably, moms and dads are concerned with the eye safety of their kids. But it can be a challenge to know how to choose the toys that are the safest and most educational.

Infants are born with a partially developed visual system which forms throughout their early years with the right sort of stimulation. Nothing stimulates a child's visual development more efficiently than toys that encourage hand-eye coordination and a deeper understanding of spatial relationships. Ideal toys that stimulate a baby's sight in his or her first year include toys with basic shapes or bright primary colors and activities that have interactive or removable objects, puppets and books. Until they're 3 months old, a baby's ability to see color hasn't properly developed, so high contrast black and white pictures of things like shapes and simple patterns are really helpful for stimulating visual development.

Since children spend a large amount of their day playing with toys, parents need to be sure that their toys are safe for both their overall health, and their vision. Kids should be given toys especially created for their specific age group. Along with age appropriateness is to make sure that toys are developmentally appropriate, too. Despite the fact that toy companies print targeted age groups on packaging, it is up to you to be alert, and prevent your child from playing with anything that may lead to eye injury or vision loss.

An excellent toy for most ages is blocks, but for younger children, check that the corners and edges are blunted, to reduce the risk of harm. Toy size is another important thing to look at. The general rule with toddlers is that a toy that is mouth size is not recommended. Be watchful of toys that can be manipulated into a smaller size also. It's advised to put small toys aside until your child is older.

Stuffed, plush toys are best if machine washable, and, especially when it comes to smaller children, free of tiny parts that can be pulled off, such as buttons or ribbons. Avoid toys that have points or edges or any sharp parts for young children, and check that things with long sticks, like pony sticks or toy brooms have rounded handles. Always pay attention when they play with such toys.

If your child is under 6 years old, be wary of toys with flying parts, such as slingshots. Even if a child is old enough to play with such toys, you still need to pay close attention with toys like that. On the other hand, for teens who play with chemistry sets or woodworking tools, always make sure they are wearing safety goggles.

So the next time you're looking for gifts, take note of the company's advice about the intended age group for the toy you had in mind. Ensure that there's no danger posed to your child's eyes - even if your child really wants it.

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