I have long thought that toy-swapping is a smart idea – even between babies! Here's how it works: two or more parents get together and bring a few toys with which they are ready to part, knowing that they can receive something in return. The kids get their hands on a new item to explore, the parents save money, and the earth has less packaging and garbage to process when each toy is used by many children before it enters the landfill. Why buy new toys when you can borrow them?!
No time to coordinate with friends? Here are three local resources that let you borrow gently used toys.
For $0.99/month, members get access to listings of available toys in their area. Currently, the Oakland/Berkeley area has the best coverage. Users can post toys they want to give away and ask for toys they want to pick up. This is similar to Facebook groups focused on buy/sell/trade concepts, but it is solely focused on toys. Tip: As of this writing, Toy-Cycle members enjoy free access for the first six months, no credit card entry required.
Oakland Public Library Toy-Lending Program
Library cardholders in Oakland can check out one or two toys at a time, ranging from trucks to puzzles to dolls. Bonus – the baby dolls are available in Caucasian, Asian, Black, and Latino appearances! Some of the branches have the toys on-hand, but from some branches, you have to request the toys to be transferred, just like requesting a book or DVD. A nice laminated catalog displaying the toys is available inside the libraries. Or see what's available on the Oakland Public Library website.
Website: Toy Lending Program at Oakland Public Library
Habitot's Toy-Lending Library
Members of the Habitot Children's Museum can visit the toy-lending closet to choose up to three items at a time to borrow for up to three weeks. In fact, non-members can join the Toy-Lending Library program for a small fee, but will also need to pay admission to enter the museum. Special shout out to Habitot where many low-income families receive donated or subsidized memberships and therefore benefit from the toys, many of which promote Kindergarten readiness. The Habitot toy library is in need of donations.
Read the wish list for the Habitot Toy-Lending Library.