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Safety at Play

It can be difficult to choose toys that are not harmful for our kids' eyes.

Children are born with an only partially developed visual system. There aren't many things that help a child's visual development more easily than play, which encourages hand-eye coordination and a deeper understanding of spaces and distances between objects. Good toys to encourage a baby's sight in their first year of life include toys with basic shapes or colors, and activity mats with detachable and changeable objects, puppets and books. In the first three months of life, babies can't completely see color, so simple black and white pictures of things like bulls-eyes or checkerboard patterns are very conducive to encouraging visual development.

Since kids spend a great deal of time engaged in play with toys, moms and dads need to be sure that their toys are safe for their eyes as well as their overall safety. A toy that is not age appropriate is generally not safe. Along with age appropriateness is to check that the toy is developmentally appropriate, too. Although companies specify targeted age groups on the box, you still need to make the call, and be attentive, so that your son or daughter doesn't play with anything that might be damaging in any way.

Blocks are safe for almost every age group, but for younger children, it's crucial to check that there are no sharp or rough parts, to decrease the risk of harm. You should also take note of toy size. With toddlers, any object that is mouth size is not something they should be playing with. Be on the lookout for objects that can be pressed or shaped into a smaller size as well. Put that small toy away until your child is more appropriately aged.

Steer clear of toys with edges or sharp components for young children, and check that things with long sticks, like 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 years old, be wary of toys projectiles, like slingshots. Always closely watch kids playing with toys like that. On the other hand, for teens who have chemistry sets or woodworking tools, always make sure they have correct safety eyewear.

So the next time you're thinking about a special gift for your son or daughter, take note of the manufacturers' recommendation about the intended age range for the toy you had in mind. Make sure that there's no danger posed to your child - even if they look really fun.

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