With Chanukah in full swing and Christmas exactly two weeks away, you may be doing some last minute shopping for your kids. December is National Safe Toy and Gift Month. We want to remind our patients and friends about the importance of choosing the right toys for your children. We want them to have a safe, and enjoyable holiday free of injury.
In 2014, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimated that hospital emergency rooms across the country treated 251,800 toy-related injuries. Of those, 73 percent of those injuries were to children under the age of 15. In fact, more than 84,400 were to those under 5 years of age.
Because the most commonly injured part of the body is the head and face area, Prevent Blindness America has declared December as Safe Toys and Gifts Month in an effort to help adults make the best decisions on how to keep the holiday season joyful for everyone. The group is offering toy-buying and gift-giving tips to anyone planning to purchase a gift for a child this year.
Before purchasing a toy or gift, Prevent Blindness suggests:
- Avoid toys that shoot or include parts that fly off.
- Ask yourself or the parent if the toy is right for the child’s ability and age. Consider whether other smaller children may be in the home that may have access to the toy.
- Avoid purchasing toys with sharp or rigid points, spikes, rods, or dangerous edges.
- Buy toys that will withstand impact and not break into dangerous shards.
- Look for the letters “ASTM.” This designation means the product meets the national safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).
- Gifts of sports equipment should always be accompanied by protective gear (such as a basketball along with eye goggles).
- Don’t give toys with small parts to young children. Young kids tend to put things in their mouths, increasing the risk of choking. If any part of a toy can fit in a toilet paper roll, the toy is not appropriate for children under the age of 3.
- Do not purchase toys with long strings or cords, especially for infants and very young children as these can become wrapped around a child’s neck.
- Always dispose of uninflated or broken balloons immediately.
- Read all warnings and instructions on the box.
- Always supervise children and demonstrate to them how to use their toys safely.
In addition to being safe, good toys for young children need to match their stages of development and emerging abilities. Many safe and appropriate play materials are free items typically found at home. Cardboard boxes, plastic bowls and lids, collections of plastic bottle caps, and other “treasures” can be used in more than one way by children of different ages. The National Association for the Education of Young Children has created a guide of “Good Toys for Children by Age and Stage.” As you read the following lists of suggested toys for children of different ages, keep in mind that each child develops at an individual pace. Items on one list—as long as they are safe—can be good choices for children who are younger and older than the suggested age range.
School begins in three weeks for Rockwood School District students. That means it is time for parents to get your kids ready for going back to school. There are clothes to buy, pencils to sharpen and summer reading to finish. A comprehensive vision exam should be at the top of your list. As parents, you want your children to be successful in school. Good vision is a key. Comprehensive eye exams are one of the most important investments a parent can make to help maximize their child’s education and contribute to overall health and well-being, especially since some vision problems may not have warning signs. If your child has difficulty seeing the smart board or their reading, this could present unnecessary challenges to their classwork. It has been estimated that as much as 80% of the learning a child does occurs through his or her eyes. Reading, writing, chalkboard work, and using computers are among the visual tasks students perform daily. A child’s eyes are constantly in use in the classroom and at play. When his or her vision is not functioning properly, education and participation in sports can suffer. Early detection and treatment provide the very best opportunity to correct vision problems, so your child can learn to see clearly. Make sure your child has the best possible tools to learn successfully.
For school-aged children, the AOA recommends an eye exam every two years if no vision correction is required. Children who need eyeglasses or contact lenses should be examined annually or as recommended by their optometrist. Early eye examinations are crucial to make sure children have normal, healthy vision so they can perform better at schoolwork or play. Unfortunately, parents and educators often incorrectly assume that if a child passes a school screening, then there is no vision problem. However, many school vision screenings only test for distance visual acuity. A child who can see 20/20 can still have a vision problem. In reality, the vision skills needed for successful reading and learning are much more complex.
Early eye exams also are important because children need the following basic skills related to good eyesight for learning:
It is also important for all children to protect their eyes from damage caused by ultraviolet radiation in sunlight. Sunglasses are needed to protect the eyes outdoors and some sport-specific designs may even help improve sports performance. Because children tend to spend significantly more time outdoors than most adults, up to half of a person’s lifetime exposure to UV radiation can occur by age 18. Also, children are more susceptible to retinal damage from UV rays because the lens inside a child’s eye is clearer than an adult lens, enabling more UV to penetrate deep into the eye. Therefore, make sure your kids’ eyes are protected from the sun with good quality sunglasses. Also, encourage your child to wear a hat on sunny days to further reduce UV exposure.
Make sure that your children are prepared for the school year by scheduling an exam with one of our doctors. Both Dr. Prange and Dr. Knibb have school age children of their own. Give us a call at our office to find a time that will work well for your family.