Keeping Baby's Toy Box Full on a Budget

For all the money you spend on them, clothes and toys get used remarkably few times before being outgrown. As soon as you get the perfect assortment of stylish clothes and toys they’ll actually use, you snap your fingers, and boom – your kiddos hit a growth spurt and are on to the next stage. In keeping up with them, you watch money fly out of your wallet faster than the Diaper Genie fills up.

That’s where your neighbors come in.


Buying for baby is probably the single largest shopping spree you’ll ever go on at one time. What you need for such a small human is remarkable. That being said, that’s also part of the fun. Doing all the prep work, organizing the nursery, and stocking up. The problem is, you’re never really done. They soon outgrow a lion’s share of what you just bought and then need more. That’s when – if you’re anything like me – you start to bargain hunt, and nothing is better than free from next door.

I’m a big fan of what I’ve affectionately dubbed the Neighborhood Toy Exchange. Our 10-month-old is just the right age behind our next door neighbor’s son that we routinely receive “gift bags” full of toys cleaned, powered up, and fresh out of toy storage. From birth they have shared with us various sleepers, toys, swings, and more. It’s like Netflix for baby toys. They drop them off, we play with them for a few months, then after he outgrows them, we return them. We’ve found it to be a great use of toys that often just sit unused after your little one moves past that stage.

Since our son was born, we’ve had seven babies born in our immediate circle of friends. What was going on last year? Now it’s our turn to start sharing our toys, rockers, jumpers, and more. Some work great, others not so much. But being able to reuse or get a little extra life out of that bouncer you bought is a great feeling. Plus, if you loved it then you want to share that product and knowledge with others. We love to share products we’re fans of. I think it’s apart of some little parenting code.

The neighborhood toy box is constantly changing, evolving, and growing as the kids do. If someone in the neighborhood has a new bundle of joy, then the more recent parents share what they have. As each child grows, there is always someone who has something that will likely fit the age group. Which helps keep the costs down and fresh batch of toys ready to be played with.

Of course there are always toys to be purchased, but with the money you save from sharing the others, you can find the ones that will last you longer. Plus, Santa needs to deliver something right? Preferably assembled and WITH batteries.

Read more of Chad's writing at his blog, dadswhodiaper.com. And don’t miss a post! Find Chad on Facebook and Twitter.

Rocket Fuel