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Have you ever found yourself in the toy aisle staring down the long aisle of toys staring back at you? You think to yourself, is it worth it? Will these toys even last? How long until my child is no longer interested in this toy?
These are all great questions with no one specific answer.
Most toys will last decades if they are well taken care of, however the length of a toy’s life is dependent on the material type of the toy and how hard your child plays with it.
For instance, most children will have a specific toy that they get attached to at an early age. Typically this toy is something soft like a stuffed animal, blanket, or other soft sensory toy. These soft toys may have a shorter life span than other plastic toys.
However, if great care is taken for this soft toy, it can last for years until the child either loses the sentiment toward it or takes it off to college with them.
On the other hand, most children are not going to keep playing with their rattles or other sensory toys until they are nine or ten. In this case, these types of toys only last until they are given away or thrown away.
There are different ways to reuse and repurpose some of the toys. If you still have their baby teethers in good condition, you can now use those teethers as ice packs for whenever they have minor scrapes and bruises.
Once your kids are older and get some more durable toys, these toys typically do not have a certain “expiration date.” Toys are designed to be durable but unfortunately not entirely indestructible.
Plastic toys will last if taken care of and played with properly. Not saying that there must be “rules” when children are playing with their toys, but typically their toys won’t last as long if left outside, dropped from high windows, thrown in the washer or dryer, etc.
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How Can I Make My Toys Last Longer?
Since toys are designed to take a beating but are not necessarily indestructible, how do you make them last longer?
To help make your toys last as long as possible you should rotate them and store them properly. This will allow you to extend their life significantly.
I will go into more detail about both of these below.
Rotate Your Toys
Many daycares and preschools adopt this practice of rotating toys—not necessarily for keeping the toys in good condition but for the sake of something new.
Rotating toys in your home is a great habit to adopt.
You will find that your children won’t lose interest in their toys—making your toys last longer in interest and durability. You can keep separate the toys into a few different categories like stuffed animals, building blocks and Legos, art supplies, miscellaneous, and role play (kitchen, store, etc…).
Take a few from each category, place them in a bin, and rotate the toys every one to two months. This will keep your children interested in all the toys in addition to adding longevity to the toys as well.
Keep Toys In Their Appropriate Places
Kids love to explore and bring their toys outside, but those toys can get muddy and damaged from the weather. You can get many different kinds of outside toys that will allow your kids to explore and enjoy their outdoor toys.
Outdoor toys can be stored in non-clear containers to help keep the sun off of them to minimize the fading.
Cars and push toys can be parked in shady spots to help avoid being hot to the touch when your children run outside to play with them. Some parents have also found success with keeping a small bucket of toys in their car.
This way toys from home don’t get misplaced, and they have their car toys to look forward to.
There are some toys that do not necessarily follow the “rule” of taking good care of it to make it last longer. For example, electronic toys do not follow that rule.
You can take the best care of all your electronic toys only to have them power off because the battery has died. While this is an easy fix, it is still rather annoying.
You have to get out the tiny screwdriver to remove the covering and actually have the right size batteries on hand. Even with the greatest care remote control operated things may sometimes just simply stop working.
You can change the batteries, and it still may not work due to the inner wiring. In cases like these, unless you are willing to open it up and try and figure the wiring out, it may just be better to find a new one.
Are Toys Garbage Or Recycling?
If you are adding new toys to the toy chest from Christmas, birthdays, or just because, you might be wondering what to do with some of the older ones. As your kids grow, they will begin to develop new interests, and some of their favorite toys may just be tossed in the corner, unused for months.
You might think of just throwing these toys away, but there are options for the old toys other than the trash.
Toys generally aren’t able to be recycled unless you disassemble them so typically they will be thrown away. If the toys are still in good condition, instead of throwing them away or recycling them you can donate them to a variety of places.
Some of the different places that you can donate your good used toys to are:
Children’s Homes and Shelters
Your toys will definitely get played with and not go to waste if donated to a local children’s home or women’s shelter. Your old toys could become some child’s new favorite toy.
You can even find local foster care systems and other children who would love the idea of “new to them” toys.
Daycare centers can go through toys rather quickly. With several children in their care for several hours a day, daycares need many toys and many different kinds of toys.
Daycares do not mind even having multiples of the same toys as that helps to avoid sharing conflicts. Electronic toys are fine to donate, but preferably if they are still working or just need a battery.
Most churches have a nursery for children ages 1-4 and would love to have some of your gently used toys to stock up their nurseries. This is a great way to weed out some of the baby toys that your children have aged out of.
If the toys are beyond donating and not in the best of shape, recycling is the next best option. However, not all recycling plants accept old toys and often you would have to disassemble the toys to take out the parts that aren’t recyclable.
You would need to call and see if your local recycling plant would be able to take your old toys or whether your only option is throwing them away.