As parents we always want what’s best for our kids and when it comes to protecting their valuable vision, there’s a lot more we can do besides giving them more carrots and taking them to see the eye doctor on a regular basis. As a matter of fact, when it comes to avoiding a laundry list of possible vision problems, many parents may not realize that playtime can be the perfect time to develop our children’s eyesight.
Games like hide-and-seek or “peek-a-boo” certainly make good use of growing vision, but check out these age-related games, toys and activities that are good for kids:
Birth to Six Months: Brightly colored rattles, squeaky toys, crib mobiles and gyms. Play patty cake and peek-a-boo with them.
Six Months to One Year: Colorful stuffed animals, floating bath toys, building blocks and other stackable items. Begin introducing them to books, especially those designed for the youngest of eyes and tiniest of hands. Roll a ball to them, tap a balloon through the air and read together with your child while they look on.
Year One: Continue with toys that require hand-eye coordination like building blocks and step it up a notch with a rocking chair and riding toys. Begin to teach them to play catch and encourage them to look at books on their own.
Two Year Olds: Time to break out the paper, pencils, markers and crayons. More advanced learning types of toys, puzzles, sorting shapes, sizes and colors. Aiming activities like ring toss or bean bag targets and take them outdoors to play catch.
Three to Six Years: Building toys with snap together pieces, more advanced puzzles, finger paint, chalk, modeling clay and large balls. Books with activities like connect-the-dots, games, stickers and other projects. Introduce them to playground equipment, especially those that require balance and grasping. Consider a tricycle and then starting them out on a bicycle with training wheels.
Seven Years and Older: Teach them to ride a bike and other activities like jump rope and roller skates. Introduce them to different types of sporting spheres, baseballs, basketballs, soccer balls and (although they’re not round) footballs. More sophisticated building toys and puzzles. Remote controlled toys, board games and other thought involved games and activities.
Remember to always have children use the proper protective gear, not just helmets when necessary, but also appropriate eyewear when needed. Eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in children and 90% of sports related injuries could have been avoided with the use of things like goggles, safety shields, eye guards and other protective gear designed for a specific sport or activity.
When your child is outdoors, you apply sunscreen, but don’t forget about sunglasses. Be sure to invest in at least one pair of high-quality sunglasses that can block out up to 99% of the sun’s harmful UV rays. And remember, sunglasses aren’t just for summer, they should be worn year round to protect young eyes.