Parents' New Toy Debate: Buy or Rent?

Keeping up with the hottest toys of the season is an expensive endeavor. Kids aren’t exactly known for their long attention spans, and it can make any parent cringe when they watch their kid toss aside the toy they spent hours pleading for…loudly…in the store…with everyone staring.

Spending money on toys that may only momentarily capture their interest is a definite gamble, however parents can now turn to toy rental services, to keep their kids, and wallets happy.

Toygaroo, which bills itself as the "Netflix for Toys," launched earlier this year and offers parents rental options similar to the DVD- rental service. Parents order from a wishlist that they create, and toys are cleaned  and sanitized organically, and shipped out in order of who signed up first.

Toygaroo offers three plans: the "Joey" which allows four toys out a time for $35.99 per month, the "Flyer" that offers six toys out a time for $49.99 per month and the "Boomer" package, permitting eight toys out for $62.99 per month. Users must sign up for at least three months. Toygaroo also allows customers to purchase the toy starting at $8 if a child becomes attached.

Toygaroo isn’t the only toy-rental company in town. Baby Plays, launched in 2007 , offers memberships starting at $19.99 per month, or a pay-as-you go plan, starting at $4.99 per toy. The company's toys are also cleaned and sanitized with organic products.

"A common scenario is your child loves the toy, and then two weeks later, they are onto the next trend," says Scott Gamm, founder of "Things are changing so quickly—one month it's this toy, the next month it's another."

Gamm says kids’ preferences change so quickly that it's common for parents to hang onto toys’ boxes just in case they need to make a quick return.

Gamm also points out the weak economy has more parents swapping and buying toys, books and clothing their children have outgrown. allows parents to do just that, and earn up to $10 for each box of items they sell.

Gamm voiced some concern over the cleanliness of the toys being sent through rental services.  "How clean is the toy? You don't want your kid to get sick."

Also, it's quite possible for renters to damage or lose the toys they have checked out, he adds.  He suggests parents weigh the costs of purchase against a rental service before signing up. Also keep in mind, it is possible to re-sell the toys you have purchased for your kids once they outgrow them. Especially during the holiday season, there are a ton of promotions and shipping deals, so toys won't be as costly to actually purchase.

"Is it worth it to just buy the toy for a little more than a rental and then sell it on eBay or to a friend afterwards?" Gamm said.