A child’s eyesight is constantly changing, but that doesn’t mean you have no control over your child’s visual acuity. At each stage of childhood, specific games and toys can help your child’s eyes develop.
You may be tempted to spend large amounts of money on special children’s toys that claim to improve vision, boost cognitive function, or give your child a competitive edge in school. While not wholly without merit, you’ll find that many simple, inexpensive toys do just as much good for a child’s eyes as anything flashy. Here is a brief rundown of the toys and activities that can help your child maintain healthy vision as they grow.
Newborn babies do not yet have fully developed eyesight. Their sense of color, contrast, and focus is highly limited. Within the first four months of their life, a baby’s eyesight will change a lot. Proper nutrition is critical during this time, as is visual stimulation. The proper activities and toys during early infancy can help make sure your baby’s eyes develop normally.
Babies see the world simply. Games like peek a boo can help them learn to focus and discern faces. Older babies can play with brightly colored bath toys.
Bright toys are essential for infants. Their vision is not yet well-developed or sharp, so they can mostly make out shapes, lights, and colors. Look for colorful, squeaky toys. Softer toys are safer, and all toys should be used with supervision.
Toddlers have fully formed vision, but they are still perfecting their focus and ability to track movements.
Toddlers have more activities available to them than infants due to their increased motor skills and understanding of communication. Simple puzzles (with pieces large enough to not be a choking hazard) and sorting or matching games can be a great choice and will help children practice focusing their eyes. Coloring is also a good option.
Blocks are a nursery favorite for a reason. Not only are they relatively safe and hardy toys that can withstand the attentions of a little kid, they’re helpful in facilitating eye and brain development, as well. Blocks teach children to recognize colors, symbols, and even letters.
Children ages 4-10 can handle a much wider range of activities and toys. By this time, issues like nearsightedness are likelier to manifest.
Young children develop good hand-eye coordination by playing sports. Activities like climbing, roller skating or bike riding are also great ways to flex your child’s vision and motor skills. Proper safety gear and supervision should always be observed during any potentially dangerous activity.
A recent study noted a correlation between time spent outdoors in the sunlight and better distance vision in children. Whether this is a causal link remains to be seen, but more outdoor time may be good for developing vision (with proper UV eye protection, of course).
By the time your child is older, they will likely have specific tastes in toys and accessories. Try to find toys that will stimulate their eyes and brains without causing too much strain. Digital toys, such as video games, cell phones or other screen-based fun should be limited to avoid causing eye strain, headaches or other symptoms.
Improving your child’s eyesight
Don’t expect these toys and games to replace a child’s prescription eyeglasses. However, they may help ensure your child’s vision develops as well as it possibly can. There are several other things you can do to make sure your child has the best eyesight possible.
No amount of vision exercises or toys will compensate for poor nutrition. A balanced diet that is low in sugary sweets and high in healthy foods like vegetables will give your child’s body the nutrients required to build strong eyes.
Comprehensive eye exams
Your child should also be getting annual eye exams, regardless of whether or not they need glasses. In fact, a child should have their first eye exam around six months of age. No amount of at-home activities or toys can replace proper medical care. Your child’s eye doctor will be able to spot any irregularities in your child’s visual development and prompt treatment can make all the difference.
If your child needs prescription eyeglasses, make sure they always stay up to date. Children’s eyes change rapidly, so while an adult can get away with new glasses every few years, a child may need them more often. With a current prescription, you can access the many discounted online glasses available at 39DollarGlasses.com. The children’s section is stocked with the same high-quality frames and lenses you get at the doctor’s office at a fraction of the cost.