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Walter Shurminsky O.D.

Home » News and Events » Playing Safe: Kids and Eye Safety

Playing Safe: Kids and Eye Safety

It's crucial to know how to select toys that are the safest and the most beneficial for kids.

Children are born with an immature visual system which, through stimulation, develops throughout their growing years. Few things stimulate a child's visual development more easily than playing, which involves hand-eye coordination and a deeper understanding of spatial relationships. Ideal toys for stimulating an infant's visual development in his or her first year include geometric mobiles or colors, and activities that have interactive or removable objects, puppets and books. Until they're 3 months old, babies can't totally differentiate between colors, so toys with strong, black and white patterns can be stimulating for them.

Because children spend a great deal of time engaged in play with toys, moms and dads really need to make sure their toys are safe for both their overall health, and their sight. Kids should play with toys that are made for their own age group. It is equally important to be sure that the toy is developmentally appropriate, too. Although toy manufacturers mention targeted age groups on the box, it's still important for you to make the call, and prevent your child from playing with toys that may result in eye injury or vision loss.

Stuffed, plush toys should be machine washable, and, for younger children, free of very small parts to pull off, such as buttons, sequins or bows. Steer clear of toys with edges or any sharp parts for little ones, and be sure that long-handled toys such as 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, avoid toys which shoot, like slingshots. Always pay attention with those kinds of toys. Whereas, for teens who have chemistry sets or woodworking tools, always make sure they are wearing correct safety eyewear.

When you're next looking to buy gifts for the holidays, birthdays or other special occasions, look for the toy makers' warning about the intended age range for the toy you had in mind. Be certain that toys you buy won't pose any harm to your child.