Online toy rental in the spirit of Netflix

Reader Lorena sent us a link to a wonderful article about Baby Plays, an internet-based toy rental company for U.S. residents. From the article:

“Baby Plays … allows parents to receive four or six toys in the mail every month, assembled and ready for playtime. Call it Netflix for the toddler set.”

There is a flat fee based on the number of rentals ($29, $32, and $36 packages), and all of the toys are guaranteed to be lead-free. According to the article, “the toys are sanitized with Clorox wipes and loaded with fresh batteries before being shrink wrapped and boxed for shipment.” Additionally, all toys come with a postage-paid box for returning the toy when your child tires of playing with it.

Toy rental sounds like a terrific idea for keeping play room clutter under control, especially if you don’t have a toy lending library like the one discussed in today’s earlier post. This service also seems like a perfect gift a grandparent could give a grandchild.

30 Comments for “Online toy rental in the spirit of Netflix”

  1. posted by Mary on

    I’m a grandparent and this idea rocks!! I’d love to read comments and reviews from people who have used this service. I can’t stand the idea of sticking the parents with more toys when the grandkids don’t even have room to play with the ones they own because they have too many! It’s insane! I just talked the oldest one into Disney stock -

  2. posted by justin on

    sanitized with clorox wipes?

    ugh.

    surely they need to run them through some FDA-approved sanitation system.

    no thank you.

  3. posted by mariann on

    would the clorox wipes work? I’m just wondering? I think this is a great idea, but worry about germs – yuck.

  4. posted by Mer on

    What would you have them do, put the toys in an autoclave?

    If you’re that worried about germs, then put surgical gloves on your kids hands. Kids touch everything and have their hands constantly in their mouth.

  5. Avatar of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    My parents have pictures of me eating used cigarette butts under the bleachers at the baseball diamonds when I was like 8 months old … totally disgusting (why didn’t they stop me?!!! and why a picture?!), but I survived. Unless your kid lives in a bubble, a toy cleaned with a Clorox wipe is cleaner than 90 percent of the things he/she handles on a daily basis. I don’t think preschools or grade schools Clorox wipe toys as they move between the hands of kids. I’m also very certain that playgrounds don’t disinfect their equipment between players.

  6. posted by Matthew Miller on

    I wouldn’t be too worried about the germs — viruses can’t survive for more than a few hours outside of a host (i.e., child), and a dry toy isn’t that hospitable of an environment for bacteria either. Really, I’m more concerned about the residue from the ammonium chloride used in the wipes.

  7. posted by Angela on

    I think this is a great idea! It is true that any toy will lose it’s appeal after a while- and sometimes the cool thing is just that it is new or different. I just worry about someone in our house breaking it, losing parts, etc. That would be more of a concern for me that the sanitary issue- but I am sure they addess that.

  8. posted by Andrew Conard on

    Thanks for sharing the link – This is great!

  9. posted by Daria on

    So, I’m pregnant for the first time and might be clueless, but is $38/month normal to spend on toys for the kid? Annually: $450? That’s the cheapest option. Seems high to me considering I doubt the kid would stop receiving any toys.

  10. posted by Carrie on

    This might be a great idea of maybe a Mom’s group to start, but I don’t think I would trust the Clorox wipes if we’re renting to everyone. In a controlled group, the moms could pitch in and buy a group of toys that rotate through the group. The above scenario makes that group just a little too wide for me.

  11. Avatar of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Daria — It’s that price for three months, not a single month.

  12. posted by Daria on

    @Erin, actually no.

    From the article: Customers pay $28.99 a month to get four toys a month for three months and $35.99 a month to get six toys a month for three months. People willing to sign a yearlong contract can get six toys a month for $31.99.

    And from the website: Monthly Rate: $36.99 for silver program.

    I know kids are more expensive than I expect, but $35/month for toys you don’t own seems high to me. Especially when not all of the toys listed are particularly expensive.

  13. Avatar of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Daria — Wow, I totally read that wrong.

  14. posted by Kaitlin on

    It might be cost effective, but if I remember my childhood correctly, I would probably have hated this service: Give back these toys so other kids can play with them?! You’re taking my new favorite toy doll away? Wait, I haven’t played with that toy in a year, but now that you might be giving it away, I need to play with it, now!

    I’d like to think that I wouldn’t have whined like that. I’d also like to think no other kid would either. But chances are, this might start a battle between kids and their parents.

  15. posted by erin on

    I would be okay with swapping toys with people I knew. But strangers – and Clorox wipes? No thanks.

    Also, batteries are never supposed to be kept in items when they aren’t being used because the batteries can leak. If anyone goes with this service I would suggest double-checking the batteries thoroughly before giving it to your kids (and maybe give it a wipe down of your own?)

  16. posted by stacey on

    I don’t have kids yet, but this sounds fantastic for people who don’t want their family room overrun by toys. What a great way to recycle, too.

  17. posted by tristie on

    this is AWESOME. I love this idea. I want to go throw out all my kids’ toys right now. seriously, so tired of keeping all their stuff organized.

  18. posted by Rosemary on

    Public toy libraries are everywhere in Australia, generally run by the local council or playgroup association. None of us seemed to have succumbed to the germs. Its easy. We clean the toys when we get them and clean them before we return them. I just use a bit of clean soapy water, and then rinse. With the babies toys, I wiped with alcohol. Works fine.

    I think this is such a cool idea. It is a great gift idea, and if kids fall in love with a toy, then maybe that is the toy that you buy them for Christmas. My son has fallen in love with a little bike from our toy library and we ended up buying it for his birthday. He uses it all the time, and it is a much loved toy. We have tried other toys that we thought he would love and they didn’t take his interest at all. We move lots, so this a great way of keeping the toy clutter out of our house.

  19. posted by Plus on

    Dude,
    My parents say that I too used to collect cigaratte butts and chew.
    I never learned to smoke, however, though an age ago I have eaten the dirty fags!

  20. posted by Christine on

    Not a mother–but I’m wondering: what happens if a kid totally falls in love with something? How heart-wrenching!

  21. posted by greer on

    I would think that if a kid really liked a toy, and then you could go to toys r us and buy it. Plus with netflix if you lose a disc or whatever, you *can* keep the disc, but you pay a 20$ fee. I imagine that with this service you can do the same: if your kid can’t live without it i’m sure you can pay to keep it, or send it out and buy another at the store, *knowing* that the kid loves it and it won’t just be thrown into a closet and forgotten about.

  22. posted by Jaime on

    I think this whole concept is kind of ridiculous… Think about it. For $30/month you get just 4 used, unpackaged, unsanitary toys. Why not just spend that $30/month buying 1 or 2 brand new toys that your kid can keep forever? Part of the whole appeal of getting a new toy to begin with is the fresh packaging, and a kid won’t get that same feeling when you hand him some dirty, used hand-me-down from a cardboard box.

    Also, I agree w/ the reader that pointed out how difficult it might be to make a child give up one of these toys if they fall in love with it. And if that’s the case, then you’re still paying the same fee every month just to rent the same toy(s)over and over again and by then you could have bought it! To make the service worth it, you would HAVE to make a point to rotate the toys every single month. Oh, and don’t forget that kids break toys. A LOT. Sounds like a huge headache for an expensive monthly price.

  23. posted by Lori Pope on

    I started this company because it made sense to me. The toys are thoroughly sanitized and we find them to be cleaner than most toys in America. The parents that are members of this program absolutely love it. I really feel like I am doing something to help other working mothers, to have high quality age appropriate toys, with out clutter or waste. Several of my own family members, including my mother, use this program for all their toy needs. Thank you all for your feed back. My goal is to continue to improve the BabyPlays program, making it a safe, hassle free and enjoyable experience for parents, grandparents and children.

  24. posted by CM on

    It’s a cute idea, but I agree that the price is prohibitive. Occasional toy swaps with other moms are free and fun, and I love the idea of a public toy lending library. Personally, I rarely leave a garage sale without a toy, and then I recycle toys by donating them, giving them to friends, or selling them in batches. I can spend $5 and get five really good used toys, and if my son gets sick of them I put them on craigslist and sell the lot for $5.

  25. posted by Gabrielle on

    I think this is an amazing idea. I too am hesitant about the price, not because it’s unreasonable but just because I don’t want to actually admit that I already easily spend that in a month on buying new toys for my 2 boys. I’d like to know how many times has your child actually “fallen in love with a toy” that they don’t want to give back. That’s like maybe 5% of the time for me, and if that’s they case than awesome, I’ll buy it if it’s actually going to be played with for more than a week. As far as the cleanliness factor, if your worried about it being clean than clean it yourself when it gets to your home. Do you actually believe that some toy shipped from China touched by who knows how many hands before you buy it at Target and take it home is cleaner? Whatever you use to clean that..use it on these rented toys. I hate the clutter in my house from all the toys, I hate the feeling I have when I know I just paid $50 for a Fisher Price Air Hockey table that my son played with a total of 3 times and now I’m going to either give it away, throw it away or sell it for 1/5 of the price. This solves all that. Great idea I think and more power to her for making her dream real!

    Gabrielle

  26. posted by Lolly on

    The problem that I have with this idea is that all the toys are PLASTIC. Whatever happened to high-quality items in the home that you WANT to keep around to pass on to the next generation of children? How about Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, wooden Thomas the Train tracks & trains, doll houses, wooden horse stables, and otherwise aesthetically pleasing toys that are wonderful to touch (natural textures!), hearty, and lasting. Nope–this is NOT for me. Plastic, plastic, plastic, bells & whistles, lights & batteries. It steals a child’s imaginative play away if all toys can play with themselves. Try kite flying! Try reading books! Forget plastic manufactured punched out gunk. We opt for classic quality. AND, there is no way we’re spending $1000 a year–remember, many toys in the home were gifted to your kids. How about just exercising restraint in purchases? This materialistic America. UGH!

  27. posted by Mo on

    1. All you people concerned about sanitation of sanitized objects — sheesh, you’d better never send your kids to school, where they would share facilities with other children. I mean, OMG EW, right…? Seriously, you guys are paranoid, and probably the reason my friends with hyphenated last names have weird allergies and constant low grade sickness. Let kids live! It won’t kill them!

    2. I agree with others who point out that ladening kids with junk is unnecessary. I hate “baby showers”, which pile clutter onto people before they are even born! Learn to tie a bird out of a handkerchief, sing and dance; let them play with safe everyday objects — and otherwise invest in quality toys that you can share when outgrown, or which they will likely always love (I agree with others re: kids’ special attachment to certain toys).

    3. Imagination is the best toy! And lack of materialism is a great resource for developing minds!

  28. posted by Mo on

    …and if it weren’t already apparent: I think toy shares are a great idea. : )

  29. posted by Lori Pope on

    I love reading these comments. Thank you to all of you for sharing your wonderful insights and ideas. Thank you for your support of the program as well. I have started a new sanitization process. I am now using a 100% natural non-toxic cleaner that kills 99.99% of all household germs. I personally work every day cleaning, packaging and shipping toys to our beloved customers. I hope that I am making a difference in their lives. I love children and I am passionate about families. I have 4 sons, ages 18, 17 and 16 month old twins and a husband of 20 years which is my best friend and life partner.I believe that spending time each day with our kids, is the way we develop trusting relationships. I find that with my babies, playtime is our special bonding time. My hope is that the BabyPlays program will enhance a family’s time together.

  30. posted by Lisa on

    Lori, keep up the great work! It may not be for everybody, but you offer a wonderful service for many. You are also keeping several tossed aside toys from the landfills. It was a brilliant idea, and I hope it all works out well for you. I predict that it will take off soon, so be ready for growth!

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