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Playing Safe

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Sometimes it's hard to choose toys that will be safe for our children's eyes.

Children are born with a partially developed visual system which forms throughout their early years with the correct sort of stimulation. Few things stimulate a child's visual development better than toys and activities that involve hand-eye coordination and a deeper understanding of spaces and distances between objects. The best toys to encourage an infant's vision in his or her first year include mobiles with geometric patterns or colors, and play mats with detachable and changeable objects, balls, books and puppets. In the initial three months of life, babies can't fully differentiate between colors, so simple black and white images of things like shapes and simple patterns are particularly conducive to encouraging visual development.

Children spend a considerable amount of time playing with their toys, so it's crucial to know if those toys are safe or not. Kids should play with toys that are made for their own age group. And it is just as important to make sure that the toy is suited to their developmental stage. Although toy manufacturers indicate age and developmental appropriateness on toy packaging, as a parent, you still need to make the call, and prevent your child from playing with toys that may lead to eye injury or vision loss.

Steer clear of toys that have points or edges or any sharp parts for little ones, and if your kids have toys with long handles, like pony sticks, make sure the ends aren't sharp. Always pay attention when they play with such toys.

If your child is under 6, avoid toys projectiles, such as dart guns. Even when they're older than 6, always pay close attention with toys like that. On the other hand, if you have older kids who have chemistry sets or woodworking tools, always check that they wear protective eyewear.

So when you next find yourself looking to buy gifts for a special occasion, pay attention to the age and developmental recommendations on toys. Make sure that toys you buy won't pose any harm to your child's eyes - even if they look fun to play with.

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