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Toys and Eye Safety

Understandably, parents are concerned with keeping their kids' eyes safe. But it can be a challenge to know how to choose the toys that are the safest and most educational.

Children don't have a fully developed visual system at birth, but it becomes more refined over time. Nothing stimulates a child's visual development more easily than play, which encourages hand-eye coordination and a clearer understanding of spaces and distances between objects. The most effective toys to encourage a baby's vision in his or her first year include mobiles with geometric patterns or colors, and activity mats with detachable and changeable objects, balls, books and puppets. In the first three months of life, babies can't fully see color, so simple black and white shapes and patterns are most engaging.

Since children spend a large amount of their day using toys, parents need to be sure that their toys are safe for their eyes as well as their total wellbeing. To be safe, a toy must be age-appropriate. And it is just as important to be sure that toys are developmentally appropriate, too. Although toy companies print targeted age groups on the box, as a parent, you still need to be discerning, so your son or daughter doesn't play with something that could be harmful to them.

Don't buy toys that have points or edges or sharp components for little kids, and if your kids have toys with long handles, like pony sticks, make sure the end is rounded. Always pay attention when they play with those kinds of toys.

If your child is under 6 years old, be wary of toys which shoot, such as arrows. Even when they're older than 6, always closely watch kids playing with toys like that. On the other hand, if you have older kids who enjoy chemistry sets or woodworking tools, always make sure they have protective eyewear.

So the next time you're shopping for the holidays, birthdays or other special occasions, take note of the age and developmental recommendations on toys. Be certain that toys you buy won't pose any harm to your child - even if it looks like lots of fun.