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Playing Safe

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It's of paramount importance for parents to know how to select toys that are the safest and the most beneficial for kids.

Children don't have a properly developed visual system at birth, but it becomes more refined over time. There aren't many things that stimulate a child's visual development better than play, which encourages hand-eye coordination and a deeper understanding of spatial relationships. Ideal toys for stimulating an infant's sight in his or her first year include toys with basic shapes or colors, and play mats with detachable and changeable objects, puppets and balls. In the initial three months of life, babies can't fully differentiate between colors, so simple black and white pictures are really great for their age group.

Kids spend a lot of time with their toys, so it's crucial to know those toys are safe. Kids should be given toys that are made for their own age group. Along with making sure to keep toys age-appropriate is to make sure that toys are developmentally appropriate, too. Even though toy manufacturers include age and developmental appropriateness on the box, as a parent, you still need to be smart, and prevent your son or daughter from playing with anything that may result in eye injury or vision loss.

Don't buy toys that have points or edges or sharp components for little kids, 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.

For children younger than 6, be wary of toys which shoot, like slingshots. Even when they're older than 6, always closely watch kids playing with toys like that. On the other hand, when it comes to older kids who have chemistry sets or woodworking tools, always make sure they are wearing safety goggles.

So the next time you're looking to buy gifts for the holidays, birthdays or other special occasions, look for the manufacturers' instructions about the intended age group for the toy you had in mind. Be certain that there's no harm posed to your child.

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