Like Netflix for Toys: rentAtoy.com

Toy shopping can be pretty hit or miss.  There’s no telling what the kids will love and what will be tossed into the toy box vortex, never to be seen or played with again.  Many’s the time I’ve bought a toy that I thought was pretty cool- a month later, I’m the only one still playing with it.

To make things more painful, I also like to shop for toys that are educational and made of natural materials.  These sorts of playthings can be quite expensive, and it hurts to see them unused and unloved, or simply too quickly outgrown. It would definitely be nice to give these toys a trial run to see if the kids like them before plunking down the cash.

Enter rentAtoy.comLike Netflix for toys, rentAtoy.com allows you to rent toys every month and return them when you’re done.  Shipping is free both ways and there are no late fees.

And if your little ones really can’t stand to part with a particular toy, you do have the option to buy it.

The selection includes choices from favorites such as Melissa & Doug, Plan Toys, and Learning Resources, as well as video games for the Nintendo DS and Wii.  While not all the toys are strictly eco-conscious, they are chosen and maintained with safety in mind:

rentAtoy selects toys based on the product and safety reviews published by several groups including the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Division, The Toy Research Institute, Safe Kids Worldwide, Playthings, National Parenting Center and the International Parenting Institute.

When toys enter, exit and return to the rentAtoy inventory, they are visually inspected, thoroughly cleaned and sanitized, and tested for condition and usability. We inspect and test for the following hazards: bacteria, lead, arsenic, cadmium, mercury, bromine, antimony, chlorine, phthalates and loose magnetic parts.

I especially like the fact that gift cards are available for purchase- a fantastic baby shower gift or something to suggest to well-meaning relatives.

I really wish this service had been around when my own kids were younger.  Three kids, with widely varying interests- we would have saved a lot of money.  Even now, we’d probably save a fair bit just on the puzzles and video games. In addition, by rotating the toys at hand, the toy selection would have always seemed “fresh” without the clutter that a steady influx of toys normally entails.

And of course, by recycling these toys from home to home, fewer unwanted toys will be tossed into landfills, not to mention the packaging associated with it.

What do you think?  Would you be willing to use a toy rental service?

Photo Credit: naama under Creative Commons

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