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Playing Safe

Of course, moms and dads worry about the eye safety of their kids. But it can be difficult to know which toys are the safest and most beneficial.

Children don't have an entirely developed visual system at birth, but it becomes more refined over time. Few things stimulate a child's visual development more efficiently than playing, which involves hand-eye coordination and a deeper understanding of spaces and distances between objects. Ideal toys to encourage a baby's vision in his or her first year include geometric mobiles or bright primary colors and activities with detachable and changeable objects, balls, books and puppets. Until they're 3 months old, babies can't totally differentiate between colors, so simple black and white images of things like bulls-eyes or checkerboard patterns are really helpful for encouraging visual development.

Since kids spend so much time using toys, parents need to check that their toys are safe for both their overall health, and their vision. To be safe, toys should be right for their age group. Along with making sure to keep toys age-appropriate is to make sure that toys are developmentally appropriate, too. Although toy companies include targeted age groups on toy packaging, as a parent, you still need to be alert, and prevent your son or daughter from playing with toys that may result in eye injury or vision loss.

A safe and educational toy for lots of age groups is blocks, but for younger children, you need to check that they have no sharp edges, to decrease the chance of eye injury. And don't forget to look at the how small or large a toy is. With toddlers, a toy that is mouth size is not something they should be playing with. It's best to put small toys aside until your son or daughter is older.

Avoid 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 those kinds of toys.

For kids younger than 6 years old, stay clear of toys which shoot, like arrows. Always 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 wear correct safety eyewear.

When you're next looking to buy gifts for the holidays, birthdays or other special occasions, keep in mind the age and developmental recommendations on toys. Ensure that there's no danger posed to your child - even if they look fun to play with.

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