FORT LEE, Va. (Dec. 7, 2017) -- Children spend a great deal of time playing with their toys, so parents should make sure those toys are safe for overall health, including eye safety.
When shopping, always pay special attention to the age or developmental recommendations on toys. Parents, grandparents or well-meaning friends may think a toy is “clever” or “looks fun to play with,” but it may not be appropriate for infants or young children.
Children are born with an immature visual system that needs to be stimulated to support normal infant vision development. The good news is nothing stimulates a child’s vision more easily than a toy!
Hand-in-hand with age appropriateness is making sure the toy is developmentally appropriate. Smaller pieces can be found in toys labeled for children, age 3 and up. If a 4-year-old still likes to put things in their mouth, these are not appropriate for him or her.
Make sure toys are sturdily constructed, so they won’t break or fall apart with reasonable play, and double-check that any paints or finishes are non-toxic and not likely to peel or flake off.
Stuffed, plush toys should be machine washable, and made without tiny pieces to pull off.
Avoid toys and blocks with sharp or rough edges or pieces. Make sure long-handled toys have rounded handles, and closely supervise toddlers with such toys.
“You’ll shoot your eye out”
Avoid toys that shoot objects in the air – such as slingshots, dart guns or arrows – for children under 6, and closely supervise a child playing with such toys. When an older child plays with a chemistry set or woodworking tools, provide them with safety goggles.
“Eye” want this toy!
The following are suggestions for age-appropriate toys for children to stimulate their visual development, develop hand-eye coordination and understand 3-D relationships.
Birth to 12 months. Brightly colored mobiles. Be sure the colors and detail on the mobile pieces face down to the child, not up to the parent and are close enough to be touched by the child.
1-year-olds. Finger paints, board books, balls, stuffed animals, blocks, stacking/nesting toys, pouring toys, riding toys, puzzles (with very large pieces) and musical toys.
2-year-olds. Finger paints, modeling clay, large building blocks, standard books, balls, stuffed animals, stacking/nesting toys, pouring toys (such as measuring cups), riding toys, puzzles (with large pieces), musical toys, dress-up clothes, child-sized household toys and items (broom, vacuum, rake or lawn mower), toy computer, child-sized kitchen area (refrigerator, stove, microwave, sink, cupboard, and table and chairs), sandbox, kiddie pool, toddler music player, or climbing toys (such as backyard gyms).
3- to 6-year-olds. Large crayons and markers, finger paints, modeling clay, building blocks, books, balls, stuffed animals, tricycle or bicycle, puzzles, musical toys, dress-up clothes, child-sized household toys and items (broom, vacuum, rake or lawn mower), kids’ learning or game tablet, child-sized kitchen area (refrigerator, stove, microwave, sink, cupboard, or table and chairs), sandbox, kiddie pool, climbing toys (such as backyard gyms or playscapes), basketball set, or roller skates.
7-year-old and up. Crayons, markers, finger paints, modeling clay, building blocks, arts and crafts kits, sewing toys, books, balls, stuffed animals, bicycle, puzzles, musical toys and instruments, swings, dress-up clothes, music player, tablet, computer games, camera, board games, science items (such as microscope, telescope and chemistry sets), roller skates, skateboard, jump rope, or sports equipment.
The final call
When purchasing toys for grandchildren, respect their parents’ right to limit what toys they play with. Give the parents the gift receipt from the store, in case they need to exchange it.