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Choosing toys that are safe for your child’s eyes

Choosing toys for child's

Choosing the right toys to ensure eye safety is a concern for every parent. Children are born with an immature visual system that needs to be stimulated to promote normal infant vision development. The good news is that nothing stimulates a baby’s vision like toys. But it’s important to choose safe baby toys.

Remember that most childhood accidents happen at home, and many of them involve toys. Children spend a lot of time playing with their toys, so you need to make sure these toys are safe for both their overall health and their vision.

When toys are unsafe, it is usually because they are not age-appropriate for the child.

How to age-appropriate toys

In addition to age appropriateness, you need to make sure that the toy is appropriate for the child’s developmental level. Toys designed for children as young as 3 may have smaller parts. If your four-year-old still likes to put things in his mouth, these toys are not developmentally appropriate.

Cubes and blocks are safe for almost all ages, but be sure to blunt corners and edges to reduce the risk of eye injury.

The size of the toy is also important. If a toy is large enough that it won’t fit in your child’s mouth but is easy to take apart, put it aside until your child is older.

Make sure your child’s toys are sturdily constructed so that they won’t break or fall apart with reasonable play, and check that any paints or coatings are non-toxic and won’t peel or flake.

Stuffed and plush toys should be machine-washable, and young children should not have small parts that can come off, such as buttons or ribbons.

Avoid toys with sharp or rough edges or parts. Make sure toys with long handles – such as a stick, broom, or vacuum cleaner – have rounded handles, and keep a close eye on babies playing with them.

Read more about toys to avoid

Avoid toys that shoot objects in the air, such as slingshots, darts, or arrows, for children under 6 years old, and closely supervise children playing with these toys. If your older child is playing with a chemistry set or woodworking tools, provide safety glasses.

When shopping for holidays, birthdays, or other special occasions, look for age or developmental recommendations on toys. These recommendations are on toy packages for a reason. Many parents, grandparents, or well-meaning friends may think a toy is “cute” or “fun to play with,” but it may not be appropriate for young children due to safety concerns.

Toy Selection Recommendations

The following are recommendations for selecting age-appropriate toys for children to stimulate visual development, hand-eye coordination, and spatial understanding.

Birth to 12 months. Bright, colorful mobiles (make sure the colors and details on the parts of the mobiles face down toward the baby, not up toward the parent), rattles, balls, stuffed animals, cubes, folding toys, spill-proof toys (such as measuring cups).

Children ages 1 to 2. Finger paints, modeling clay, balls, stuffed animals, dice, folding/unfolding toys, pouring toys (e.g., measuring cups), rolling toys, puzzles (with large pieces), shape sorters, musical toys.

Children 2 to 3 years old. Finger paints, clay for modeling, Lego Duplo (large Lego pieces), board and regular books, balls, stuffed animals, folding/unfolding toys, pouring toys (e.g., measuring cups), rolling toys, rolling toys, puzzles (with large pieces), shape sorters, musical toys, household toys and objects (broom, vacuum cleaner, rake, lawn mower), toy computers, children’s kitchen (refrigerator, stove, microwave, sink, cabinet, table and chairs), sandbox, kiddie pool, toddler music player, magnetic letters, climbing toys (e.g., gym or play sets).

Choosing toys for child's

Children 3 to 6 years old. Large crayons, large markers, finger paints, modeling clay, Legos, books, balls, stuffed animals, tricycle or bicycle, puzzles, musical toys, swings, household toys and child-sized objects (broom, vacuum cleaner, rake, lawn mower), children’s learning or play tablet, children’s kitchen (refrigerator, stove, microwave, sink, cupboard, table and chairs), sandbox, kiddie pool, magnetic letters, climbing toys (e.g., gyms or play sets), play sets), toy camera, basketball, board games, roller skates.

Children ages 7 to 10. Crayons, markers, finger paints, modeling clay, Legos, activity kits, books, balls, stuffed animals, bikes, puzzles, musical toys or instruments, swings, tablets, computer games, cameras, board games, science items (e.g., microscopes, telescopes, chemistry sets), roller skates, skateboards, jump ropes, sports equipment.

Let parents make the final selection!

Finally, when buying toys for grandchildren, children or grandchildren of friends, respect the parents’ right to limit their toy choices. Give the parents a gift – a gift receipt from the store where you purchased the item in case they want to return it!