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An Eye on Toy Safety

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Buying the best toys with eye safety in mind is something all parents worry about. How can parents make sure they choose toys that keep kids' eyes in mind?

Babies are born with a partially developed visual system which forms throughout their early years with the right stimulation. There aren't many things that help a child's visual development more easily than toys that involve hand-eye coordination and learning about spatial relationships. Between the ages of 0-3 months, a baby's ability to see color hasn't really developed, so toys with strong, black and white pictures can be really beneficial.

Because kids spend so much time engaged in play with toys, moms and dads need to be sure that their toys are safe for both their overall health, and their eyesight. Children should play with toys especially created for their own age group. Along with age appropriateness is to check that toys are developmentally appropriate, too. Even though toy companies mention targeted age groups on the box, it is up to you to make the call, so your child avoids playing with something that could be harmful to them.

Make sure your child's toys are well-made and don't fall apart when they're used, and check any coating (like paint) is non-toxic and not likely to peel or flake off. Kids like to roughhouse at times, but they should always be aware of airborne objects and other things in the playground, like swinging ropes that might hit the eye. If something like that does occur, it can result in a corneal abrasion, or a popped blood vessel. And even if it seems like there wasn't any harm, the impact can appear decades later, in the form of glaucoma or a premature cataract.

Don't buy toys that have points or edges or sharp components for young children, 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.

For children below 6, be wary of toys with flying parts, such as slingshots. Always supervise kids playing with those kinds of toys. Whereas, for older kids who have chemistry sets or woodworking tools, always check that they have protective eyewear.

So the next time you're shopping for the holidays, birthdays or other special occasions, keep in mind the company's recommendation about the intended age range for the toy. Make sure that toys you buy won't pose any risk to your child - even if they look really fun.