Baby Toy Rental–Spare the Wad or Spoil the Child?
Susan here with my TWIST (The Way I See Things) on a new online service for parents of infants and toddlers. Now you can rent baby toys–receive a new box of toys every month so baby doesn’t get bored. Depending on the package you sign up for, you can receive from four to six new toys a month. Packages run from about $29 to $36 per month, determined by how many new toys you want delivered and length of commitment. There’s no shipping charge and no late charges if you keep the toys longer than a month. In terms of learning development, I think this is a brilliant idea. As baby grows, parents can introduce different toys that teach different skills and concepts on a monthly basis. No doubt, the first thing you want to know involves the safety of this service. With these baby toys being shuttled from baby to baby and from ocean to ocean, the germ-distribution potential is staggering. According to their Web site, babyplays.com, every toy is sanitized in every nook and cranny with Chlorox before it is sent out again, and the toys arrive sanitized, shrink-wrapped and in “pristine” condition. There is a $2 to $6 charge if you break a toy. Still, the idea sounds good, so I guess parents have to figure out how much they would spend in new toys over the course of a year to keep their baby engaged and entertained. If that total is at least $432, then clearly this would be a cost-effective way to shower a child with new toys on a continual basis. Both parents and baby have new baby toys to play with all the time. The service itself would make a great baby gift from grandparents or other close family and friends. Sounds perfect.
So perfect, in fact, that I felt compelled to spend some time thinking about what possible downside there might be. While I’m impressed by this entrepreneur’s venture into uncharted waters, I’m still deciding whether the idea has merit as far as a baby’s character development is concerned. Here’s my scenario: parents sign up for the service when their daughter is born, and for the first three years of baby’s life, she’s rotating toys, so eventually there’s an expectation that she’ll have new toys in her life on a regular basis. Once you’ve established that pattern, how difficult will it be to discontinue the regular delivery of new toys–or possessions, if you will–into her life? Are you running the risk of a very spoiled child who continually expects a complete change of toys–or possessions–with every new moon? What happens if she gets particularly attached to one of the toys and doesn’t want to part with it, like a plush teddy bear that often becomes a comfort toy for years? Do you buy it for her?
And what about birthdays and gift-giving holidays? Will a child who’s used to getting new toys in her life every month be excited about and appreciative of toys given to her as gifts by family and friends? What if they give her a toy she’s already experienced and moved beyond? Does the parent accept it graciously, only to exchange it for a toy their daughter hasn’t seen yet? That inconvenience may very well negate the convenience of new toys at your doorstep every month. Do you just tell family and friends to give her gifts of either clothes or money? Miss Manners may take issue with this approach. Granted, there are a number of baby gifts ideas available that aren’t toys–clothes, blankets, keepsake gifts, personalized gifts, room decor for the nursery and lots more–but you still have to lead the gift givers in those directions. Some people are touchy about being told what and what not to purchase for gifts.
There you have it. I’m still on the fence with this one, so I’d love to get some feedback from you. Help me make up my mind. And remember to have some fun this week!