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Playing Safe

Choosing the best toys with eye safety in mind is something all moms and dads worry about. How do we select toys that keep our kids' eyes safe?

Children are born with a primitive visual system which forms throughout their early years with the right sort of stimulation. Nothing stimulates a child's visual development better than toys and activities that encourage hand-eye coordination and learning about spatial relationships. Between the ages of 0-3 months, babies can't fully see color, so simple black and white shapes and patterns are most engaging.

Children spend a lot of time with toys, so it's good for parents to know if those toys are safe and beneficial or not. Kids should be given toys that are made for their own age group. Don't forget to check that the toy is suited to their level of development. Although toy companies indicate targeted age groups on packaging, you still need to make the call, and prevent your child from playing with toys that may result in eye injury or vision loss.

A great toy for lots of age groups is blocks, but for younger children, you need to inspect them for sharp edges and corners, to lessen the chance of danger to the eyes, or any other part of the body. You also need take note of toy size. The general rule with toddlers is that a toy that can fit into their mouths is not recommended. Put that small toy away until your son or daughter is no longer at risk of choking.

Don't buy toys with edges or sharp components for little kids, and check that things with long sticks, like pony sticks or toy brooms have rounded handles. Closely supervise toddlers when they play with those kinds of toys.

For kids younger than 6, stay clear of toys projectiles, such as dart guns. 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, if you have teens who have chemistry sets or woodworking tools, always check that they wear protective eyewear.

So the next time you're considering a special gift for your son or daughter, take note of the toy makers' instructions about the intended age range for the toy you had in mind. Ensure that toys you buy won't pose any harm to your child - even if your child really wants it.