It’s of paramount importance for parents to know what sorts of toys are the safest and the most beneficial for kids.
Babies are born with an only partially developed visual system. There aren’t many things that stimulate a child’s visual development better than play, which encourages hand-eye coordination and a clearer understanding of spatial relationships. Until they’re 3 months old, babies can’t totally differentiate between colors, so simple black and white pictures of things like bulls-eyes or checkerboard patterns are very helpful for encouraging visual development.
Because kids spend a great deal of time using their toys, it is up to us to check that their toys are safe for their eyes as well as their total wellbeing. To be safe, a toy should be age-appropriate. Along with age appropriateness is to check that toys are developmentally appropriate, too. Although toy manufacturers include targeted age groups on the box, it is up to you to make the call, and prevent your son or daughter from playing with toys that could lead to an injury or permanent eye damage.
Look to see if your child’s things are sturdily constructed and don’t lose small, mouth-size parts with regular use, and be sure any coating (like paint) is not lead-based and won’t flake, as small particles can easily get into eyes. Children like to be a little wild, but they need to look out for airborne balls and swings or even swinging ropes that can strike the eye. If the eye does get hit, it can easily cause a corneal abrasion, or a sub-conjunctival hemorrhage, which is a popped blood vessel. Other times, the result of the hit can appear decades after the event, in the form of glaucoma or a premature cataract.
Stuffed, plush toys are best if machine washable, and, for younger children, free of tiny pieces that can be pulled off, like buttons or ribbons. Don’t buy toys that have points or edges or sharp components for little ones, and check that things with long sticks, like pony sticks or toy brooms have rounded handles. Always pay attention when they play with such toys.
If your child is under 6, stay clear of toys which shoot, such as dart guns. Even if a child is old enough to play with such toys, you still need to closely watch children playing with toys like that. On the other hand, when it comes to teens who have chemistry sets or woodworking tools, always make sure they have protective eyewear.
So the next time you’re considering a special gift for your child, pay attention to the toy makers’ instructions about the intended age group for the toy. Ensure that toys you buy don’t pose any risk to your child’s eyes – even if it looks like lots of fun.