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Playing Safe: Kids and Eye Safety

Of course, parents are concerned with the eye safety of their kids. But it can be a challenge to know which toys are the safest and most educational.

Babies are born with a primitive visual system which forms throughout their early years with the right sort of stimulation. Few things stimulate a child's visual development better than toys and activities that encourage hand-eye coordination and a more concrete understanding of spaces and distances between objects. Until they're 3 months old, babies can't totally differentiate between colors, so high contrast black and white images of things like bulls-eyes or checkerboard patterns are really conducive to encouraging visual development.

Kids spend a lot of time with toys, so it's crucial to know those toys are safe. To be safe, toys must be right for their age group. Hand-in-hand with age appropriateness is to check that the toy is developmentally appropriate, too. Despite the fact that toy manufacturers include targeted age groups on toy packaging, as a parent, you still need to make the call, and be attentive, so that your child doesn't play with anything that could be unsafe.

Any plush toys should be machine washable, and, for younger children, without any tiny parts that can be pulled off, such as buttons or ribbons. Avoid toys that have points or edges or sharp components for little kids, and be sure that long-handled toys such as pony sticks or toy brooms have rounded handles. Closely watch toddlers when they play with those kinds of toys.

If your child is under 6, be wary of toys projectiles, such as arrows. Even if a child is old enough to play with such toys, you still need to pay attention with toys like that. On the other hand, when it comes to teens who have chemistry sets or woodworking tools, always check that they have safety goggles.

So the next time you're thinking about a gift, pay attention to the age and developmental recommendations on toys. Ensure that there's no danger posed to your child's eyes.