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Focusing on Kids’ Eye Safety

It's crucial to know what sorts of toys are the safest and the most beneficial for kids.

Children are born with a partially developed visual system which, through stimulation, develops throughout their growing years. There aren't many things that stimulate a child's visual development better than toys that encourage 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 mobiles with geometric patterns or colors, and activity gyms with detachable and changeable objects, puppets and books. Between the ages of 0-3 months, babies can't fully see color, so high contrast black and white images of things like shapes and simple patterns are particularly helpful for encouraging visual development.

Children spend a large amount of time playing with their toys, so it's good for parents to know if those toys are safe or not. To be safe, a toy should be right for their age group. And up there with making sure to keep toys age-appropriate is to be sure that the toy is right for their developmental stage. Even though toy companies indicate targeted age groups on packaging, as a parent, you still need to be alert, so your son or daughter doesn't play with anything that might be harmful to them.

Make sure your child's toys are made well and don't start to break with regular use, and double-check any paint for finish used is non-toxic and won't flake, as small particles can easily get into eyes. Kids like to roughhouse, but they need to learn to be on the look out for objects and other things in the playground, like swinging ropes that can strike the eye. If the eye does get hit, it can lead to a corneal abrasion, or pop a blood vessel in the eye (also called a sub-conjunctival hemorrhage). Other times, the impact can show up years later, as a contributing cause of glaucoma or a premature cataract.

All soft toys are best if machine washable, and, especially when it comes to smaller children, without any very small parts to pull off, like buttons or ribbons. Steer clear of toys with edges or sharp components for a little kid, and if your kids have toys with long handles, like pony sticks, always make sure the end is rounded. Always pay attention when they play with such toys.

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

So when you next find yourself looking to buy gifts for a holiday or birthday, take note of the manufacturers' warning about the intended age group for the toy you had in mind. Ensure that toys you buy won't pose any harm to your child - even if it looks like lots of fun.