Deciding what to buy your children for the holidays is always challenging. Check twice before making a purchase and be mindful of age and potential toy safety hazards. From newborns to toddlers, a child’s vision continues to develop through early and middle childhood. From the first day you look into those precious eyes, your baby begins to create essential connections between the eyes and brain, which will allow their vision to develop focus, hand-eye coordination, depth-perception and color vision.
To Prevent Toy-Eye Injury
- Read toy labels and purchase according to the advised age group
- Always ensure the toys are safely assembled
- Show the child how to play with them
- Supervise playtime
- In general, avoid hard objects with sharp, pointy edges
Holiday Toy List by Age
Babies slowly begin to focus on objects, see contrast and are sensitive to light. Purchase plush textured toys and bright colored visual toys with contrast like mobiles. For mobiles, ensure they are correctly assembled and a safe distance away form the infant.
Hand-eye coordination begins to improve at this stage. Progress in depth-perception and color vision are also occurring. Avoid sharp edges and heavy objects. They should be encouraged to crawl and reach for things. Toys like balls, stacking toys, musical toys, large piece puzzles are ideal at this age.
Children can recognize objects and faces well. Their hand-eye coordination has developed and they should be able to scribble and color. Ideal toys include, finger paint, books, stuffed animals, blocks, and large lego. Near the end of this stage larger items, like kitchen sets, household toys, play-gyms are safe to play with.
By now children become more independent, have greater depth-perception and can control their movements. Tricycle or bicycles with helmets, balls, board games, crayons etc. are suitable. Avoid toy-guns with soft pellets, which can cause serious eye injury and permanent vision loss. Recent incidents involving soft-pellet toy guns have been reported by the British Medical Journal where three children were treated for pain, blurred vision and even internal bleeding in the eye.
Children at this age can enjoy a number of toys safely such as coloring sets, books, balls, puzzles, musical instruments, microscopes, telescopes, and sports equipment. When purchasing tablets, small video games or computers one should consider limiting screen time. Staring at screens up close like playing video games or watching shows or movies can result in poor vision. Incidence of childhood myopia (nearsightedness -inability to see objects at further distances) among American children has more than doubled over the last 50 years in large part due to the close work and use of mobile devices and screens on a daily basis, combined with a lack of outdoor activities and sunlight.
Have a safe and happy holidays from the USC Roski Eye Family!!
By Debbie Mitra