Category Archives: Toys

Toygaroo, a toy rental company

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Love Netflix? Try Toygaroo, an online toy rental company that is set up much like Netflix. Here’s how it works:

1. Choose a toy rental plan. You can get four to eight toys delivered to your door every one or two months. The cost ranges from $35.99 to $75.99 per month (this includes shipping both ways). There are three month commitments when signing up.

2. Add toys to your wishlist in order of preference. You can select from hundreds of toys categorized by child’s age, type like pretend play, puzzles, wooden toys, etc…,  or toy brand. Toygaroo carries Melissa and Doug, HABA, International Playthings, Fisher Price and much more.

3. In about a week or so (the company is just getting off the ground in the past month so delivery times might be a little sluggish in the beginning), you will receive a box of sanitized and shrink wrapped toys delivered to your door via FedEx. When you open the box, keep the return shipping label in a safe place and also make sure that the box stays intact. This is your return box as well.

4. Have fun with the new toys! Keep the toys for 30 days or more (depending on your toy rental plan). If your child is old enough to understand, be sure to tell her/him that these are rental toys (i.e. be gentle and keep track of all the parts).

5. Carefully pack all the items and seal the toy box up, placing the already provided return shipping label on top. Locate the nearest FedEx office and drop off your toy box at that location.

6. In about five more days you should get your next box of toys! Always make sure you have enough items on your wish list at Toygaroo since they cannot guarantee availability on every item. For instance you might have 25 items listed, but only 10 are available on your ship day.

We’ve been using this toy rental company (in its earlier version it was called Baby Plays) on and off for a couple of years. It’s a little on the pricey side and I wish they had more wooden and pretend play items for preschoolers, but in general Toygaroo offers a nice toy rental service–especially for those of you who only have one child and not too many other families around. We are definitely not loaded down with hand me down toys like some other lucky families are, so Toygaroo makes sense for us at times. Also, keep Toygaroo in mind if you take a vacation somewhere or one of those pseudo vacations when you visit relatives. The company will deliver a box of toys to your hotel, condo, sister’s basement, etc… which is a great way to avoid any additional baggage costs when traveling. Less to pack is a good thing.

Some FAQ’s on Toygaroo.

I’m a beta tester tight now for the company and they may be looking for additional testers. Check their blog for more information.

Let’s get the blue tape

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You know how it goes. Your child gets a great present from the grandparents and all she/he wants to do is play with the bubble wrap and wheel stuffed animals around in the big box the toy came in. Yes, sometimes the cheapest and insignificant items are what holds little ones’ attention the most.

Hence, blue painter’s tape. I’m not sure how our love affair with this tape began, but my daughter has been playing with blue painter’s tape for a couple of years now and it is a big part of her daily play. The beauty of this tape is that it comes off of all surfaces (well maybe not so much hair), is reasonably priced, is reusable, and really does build spatial, construction, and motor skills. There’s something intriguing about blue painter’s tape for kids–I think that they feel like they have some control over it and what they can create with it. Most kids can rip their own tape by the age of 3 or so. We recently bought a 9 pack from Amazon for $31.12 that lasts about a year.

Here are some ways to get creative with blue painter’s tape:

  • pretend bandages on stuffed animals
  • build anything and everything with blue tape, paper, cardboard, paper plates, etc…
  • decorating or dressing up stuffed animals
  • “wrapping” objects (see the mini-pumpkin above) or pretend gifts
  • fixing things–of course this involves “breaking” or ripping something apart first!
  • attaching dolls or other objects to cars, play houses
  • art projects when you don’t want to use glue or just don’t have any glue on hand
  • airplane ride entertainment
  • pretend bridges (attach it between chairs)
  • create “do not enter” sections of a room
  • mini kites
  • fun abstract greeting cards or wall/window art
  • marking off a pretend house on a wooden floor
  • pretend jewelry
  • play food

Add some packing peanuts to the blue tape mix sometime and you’ve got an afternoon of non-battery powered fun.

Traveling with your bundle of joy?

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Okay, so your little bundle of joy isn’t really all that little anymore and sometimes isn’t exactly joyful while traveling. We’ve taken our toddler/preschooler on a few airplane trips and these items have definitely come in handy.

1. Go-Go Kidz Travelmate

If you plan to bring your child’s car seat onto the airplane and have purchased a separate airplane seat for them, the Go-Go Kidz Travelmate is quite handy. This wheeled plate easily attaches to most car seats (we have the Britax Diplomat) and makes moving around at the airport a little easier. Read more about FAA travel guidelines and regulations for traveling with small children. Most kids find being wheeled around in their familiar car seat in the airport kind of fun and falling asleep is definitely easier in a well padded car seat than the regular airplane seat/Moms lap/balled up sweater combination. Note, you need to detach the Travelmate from the car seat before putting them both through the X-ray conveyor belt. So try to time the possible nap in the wheeled car seat appropriately. Full dimensions, product video, and features can be found on the Go-Go Kidz Travelmate web page (but buy through Amazon to save some money).

2. Hefty One Zip Storage Plastic Bags (gallon and quart size)

Dependable and easy to use (even your child can open and close them), the Hefty One Zip bags are great for wet clothes (potty training anyone?), snacks, holding crayons and other toy pieces you bring on board, wipes, and tissues. Make sure you bring extra gallon sized ones in your ever bulging carry on bag ready for the unexpected.

3. Photos on your laptop

Many kids like to look at pictures of themselves. We often load several hundred photos of our daughter onto a laptop and let it play in slideshow mode while on the plane. It is great for keeping your child occupied and offers some fun conversation starters. Sometimes including older photos of when your child as an infant is particularly fascinating to your little one.

4. What to do about ear popping (or lack thereof)

In order to help alleviate ear pain, always remember to have some juice or water in a sippy cup or cup with a straw available for take offs and landings. We also found offering favorite snacks (be sure to pace the snacks before take offs and landings so your child will actually be hungry) a good way to encourage swallowing and ear popping. Any of Dr. Sears’s fruit chew supplements also work well (the pineapple/mango ones are a bit sour though) to aid swallowing and of course have the added benefit of being nutritious.

5. Doodle Pro

Not really sure why, but the Doodle Pro (the smaller sized version is easier for travel) can keep your toddler/preschooler occupied for more than 15 minutes! No mess and no crayons to drop, Fisher-Price has several different versions of this toy that can be used for alphabet, number, and vocabulary building in addition to drawing goofy portraits of Mommy and Daddy. Good prices on the Doodle Pro can be found at Target and sometimes Amazon.