Grandparents and Baby Gear. Why Not Exchange Instead of Renting?

Recently, my neighborhood’s HOA started a “baby lending library,” for lack of a better description. No, this isn’t about baby books, although that’s an idea that hasn’t yet been discussed.

Instead, this is the brainchild of a newly minted grandmother with an out of state son, daughter-in-law and newborn. They plan to visit for an extended stay in the summer, and she reached out to other, more seasoned grandparents in the neighborhood to set up an exchange in which an inventory of baby and child gear can be borrowed (at no cost) and returned.

And so, a note to gauge interest was sent out to our residents’ portal, which resulted in several people signing up and offering their spare baby and child gear for borrowing or even buying from other neighbors.

We’ve been there. The overwhelming, space-sucking reality of baby gear, especially for travel. Strollers, safety compliant car seats, cribs, bassinets and highchairs. And don’t forget kitchen doodads such as extra bottles, baby-safe utensils, extra bibs and dishware. (In my case, inevitably one or many of these items are often forgotten by my visitors, so I have extra on hand.)

When visitors with babies and toddlers arrive, they are most appreciative when much of the gear and gadgets are already there. Don’t forget beach toys and baby tents designed to protect children from the sun or wind, and even baby sunscreen. I always have these on hand to make it easier and less expensive for our own kids when they visit.

Older toddlers and young children also come with their expectations of toys and transportation. Car seats and booster seats already installed in your own vehicle keeps the hassle of moving them from one vehicle to another. Bikes and wagons on hand for grandkids are also appreciated since they don’t travel well.

The list of available items is growing in this neighborhood, so I looked into anything I could find on the internet for similar Facebook groups or free exchanges. There are plenty of volunteer organizations that offer families clothing, food and baby supplies, but I came up short on equipment exchanges other than a local Facebook group that hasn’t had any postings since 2012. Likely by now, those children who benefitted have since moved on to high school or even college.

The concept is not new. In larger metropolitan and suburban areas, these lending groups are thriving. In Philadelphia and its suburbs alone, I found more than half a dozen exchanges. There are even national organizations with metropolitan chapters, but nothing close to Southern Delaware.

It’s an idea whose time has come, I mused. With all of the tourists flocking to our beach towns, it makes a great business idea (and there are a few rental options at the end of this article), but what about your network of neighbors? Based on the response within our relatively small HOA, people are quite willing to loan their baby gear, especially to someone they know.

Our neighborhood inventory includes the usual “pack and play” and high chair varieties, but the list includes other interesting suggestions, such as baby backpacks (perfect when lugging stuff to the beach), a twin stroller, a large wagon, baby beach umbrellas and plenty of quality toys.

According to Baby Quip, a national company that provides rentals in Delaware, a normal sized crib is in the highest demand (restful baby equals more restful vacation). The average rental rate is $20/night. Interestingly, some enterprising families have joined Baby Quip as a business, to rent their existing or outgrown gear, complete with delivery and setup.

If you choose to go that route, here is a listing of baby gear rental options in Sussex County. ·

I hope you are inspired to share this information with other grandparents or friends that anticipate visits this summer from the little ones. Perhaps your own neighborhood would benefit from our model, “Grandma’s Corner.”

By the way, our email list also includes an option to post stories, ask questions or suggestions or even ask around for reputable babysitters.

Bridget FitzPatrick

2 responses to “Grandparents and Baby Gear. Why Not Exchange Instead of Renting?

  1. I’m interested in starting this project in our community. Could you share some more information?

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