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Parents, use caution at toy-shopping time

  • Story Highlights
  • Parents are last line of defense in safeguarding kids from dangerous toys
  • Use common sense: No sharp edges, loose parts that kids could choke on
  • To guard against eye injuries, avoid toys that shoot small objects into the air
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By Judy Fortin
CNN
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ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Amy Granelli started her holiday shopping weeks ago. As she aimlessly pushed her cart through towering aisles of toys she still found herself overwhelmed by choices.

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Amy Granelli shops for toys for her kids with safety warnings "in the forefront of my mind," she says.

Not only is she worried about finding the right presents for her four young children ages 5-8, but also in light of this year's massive toy recall for lead and other hazards, she's concerned about keeping her kids safe.

"I don't think you can ever be too safe. I mean as a parent, I think that's your job," says Granelli, a stay-at-home mom from Atlanta, Georgia.

The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees that parents are the last line of defense in safeguarding children from dangerous toys.

Atlanta-based pediatrician Jennifer Shu, who is affiliated with the AAP, is urging parents to be informed. "There is no acceptable level of lead. Toys need to be safe before you give them to a child."Video Watch more on buying safe toys »

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The mother of a 6-year old, Shu knows how difficult it is to comb through lists of recalled toys. Like Granelli, Shu is approaching the holiday shopping season with trepidation, but she wants parents to always be concerned about toy safety, not just at certain times of the year and not just because of recall notices.

"So much of it is common sense," Shu says, "looking for loose parts, anything sharp, anything that could be a choking hazard, anything that could get tangled around a child's neck."

Shu cautions parents to read the warning labels on toy packaging and buy only age-appropriate items. "Toys that are meant for older children may have sharp edges or break very easily and can be very frustrating for younger children who can't figure out how to use them," Shu says.

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In its list of toy safety guidelines, the AAP warns parents to avoid toys that shoot small objects into the air. They may cause serious eye injuries. It also tells parents to protect their children's hearing by checking toys that make loud or shrill noises.

Even some crayons and markers are on the list of hazardous play items, because of their potential toxicity. The AAP recommends buying products that are labeled non-toxic.

Granelli admits now that her children are no longer toddlers, she's loosened up a bit on keeping track of safety guidelines. But now that the warnings are back in the news, she says, "they're in the forefront of my mind."

"For a long time, I was like, this is the United States -- if it's on the shelf it's safe. But you know, hearing this in the news has raised my concern," she says.

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As she strolled down another aisle loaded with toys, Granelli took her time and carefully examined items before placing them in her shopping cart.

For toy safety guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics go to: www.aap.org. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

Judy Fortin is a correspondent with CNN Medical News.

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