How to: Toy Rotation

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My friend posted a link to an article about an easy toy rotation method in our Mom’s Group, and since then, several of my friends have tried it out with great success.  I decided to also do it after I realized that Henry doesn’t play with 80% of his toys – and he really doesn’t have that many!  His toy space was too cluttered OR his toys were hidden in the back of a closet <—this worked for a while when he was younger and his toys were bigger, but once things got smaller, toys were easily misplaced.


So – here’s the new way we do toys:


First, I went through the toys and eliminated all the broken or never-liked ones.  I also relocated the too-young baby toys in Claire’s upstairs closet for the future.  Eventually, I’ll add Claire’s toys to the bins, but not for a while.  Oh – and I did this part while Henry was sleeping because I knew he’d get upset seeing me toss a broken tractor.


Then, with Henry’s help, I organized his toys into the bins.  My plan was to leave one bin empty for later, but I couldn’t get Henry to understand that, so I eventually just consolidated two of the bins when he wasn’t looking.  Hah.


I let him separate the toys out how he wanted, but I tried to encourage him to spread out similar toys (like trucks in all the boxes, not just one; wooden blocks in one box and Legos in another).  The only toy that we’re permanently keeping out is his soccer ball.  I didn’t put his train set into a box, but I am going to rotate that in and out too – while it used to be his favorite toy, it’s losing its luster a bit.  I think it needs to “disappear” for a while.


Then – I numbered the bins.  As I said, #4 is empty so we have room to grow.  The original post suggested labeling the bins with a description of the toys, but I don’t think we have enough to ‘lose’ favorites in the bins.


Every week, I pull out a new bin and put away the old one.  So each week, Henry gets “new” toys – and a more manageable number of toys.  Plus, your living room doesn’t look like a toy store exploded, which is always nice.


Thus far, this technique is a HUGE hit.  I love how much more organized our space feels, and Henry is playing with toys that he’s ignored for MONTHS and MONTHS!  The reduced number of toys out and about make pick-up a LOT easier for me.  And I think this technique will be a huge money saver down the road, too.


Here’s another post on Toy Control!


How do you tame the toys at your house?



  • Emily February 11, 2015, 8:53 am

    I know everyone gets irritated by the “my puppy is just like your baby!” comparison, but this totally works for dog toys too! My 2 pups have a HUGE bucket of toys and play with approximately 5 of them. I started keeping just a handful in the bucket they have access to and hiding the rest in a separate bucket in the garage, then swapping them out every so often. They play with stuff they haven’t touched in ages, and I save money not buying them new toys as often. Win win!

    • Caitlin February 11, 2015, 9:18 am


  • sarah February 11, 2015, 9:21 am

    Love these tips. My only question is–do you do this for just 1 room, or is this for toys throughout the house? my daughter has toys in multiple rooms (living room, den, her room, etc…) Thanks!

    • Caitlin February 11, 2015, 10:47 am

      I did it for all the toys throughout the house.

  • Erin @ Her Heartland Soul February 11, 2015, 10:04 am

    What a great idea! I’m hoping I remember this when I have kids!

  • Autumn (@Beautifully Gray) February 11, 2015, 10:19 am

    I love organizational tips like this!

  • Elise @ Expeditions of Elise February 11, 2015, 10:47 am

    It’s funny that you went through Henry’s toys while he was sleeping. It reminds me of how my dad went through my toys when I was a little kid and ended up getting rid of a TON of toys I didn’t play with. I can only imagine what it would’ve been like if I had been there to see him get rid of my toys! Smart move.

  • Ellen February 11, 2015, 11:05 am

    We try to put alot of my son’s non used toys up in the attic…downstairs he really only plays with his little animal figurines or things lying around the house…which is great because it cuts down on the clutter. The fun thing is when we are up in the attic, which really is our third floor, its like he has a whole new toy room to play in….so it keeps things exciting. My concern is new baby getting old enough to start putting all of my sons favorite toys in his mouth, which are all choking hazards…I dont know how we are going to control that.

  • Courtney! @ Redefining Athlete February 11, 2015, 11:08 am

    I need to do this for my clothes. My brain is essentially a 2 year old too.

  • Lauren Vacula @ February 11, 2015, 11:25 am

    This idea is fantastic!!! Wondering if it would also work with clothing accessories?! I always forget what I have ha. Side note- I just posted my favorite gluten-free vegan V-day recipe (Red Velvet Pancakes with Cashew Cream Glaze)- check it out if you’re interested!
    xo, Lauren @

    Also, my V-day lookbook is on YouTube here:

  • Katie @ Peace Love & Oats February 11, 2015, 11:56 am

    This idea is genius. It’s like NEW TOYS! They never get old! I love this. Filing this away for “someday”

  • Abby February 11, 2015, 12:09 pm

    Do you store the other boxes in the closet when it’s not in rotation? And is this all of the toys y’all have for Henry or was this just one room? I think it sounds like a great idea, but we have so much more stuff than that. (I feel ridiculous and like we have a spoiled kid even writing that, but it’s birthday, Christmas and hand me down presents, not like we’ve gone on a crazy spending spree!)

    • Caitlin February 11, 2015, 12:20 pm

      This is everything we have for Henry except for the baby toys and things like his tunnel, soccer goal, sand pit, etc… He is not a huge toy kid, honestly. But I tend to follow a “toy in, toy out” rule a lot of the time. I also give away a lot of his toys when he’s “over them” to our friends’ kids.

      The boxes are in his “toy closet” (this downstairs closet).

  • Amy @ Amy M4gic February 11, 2015, 12:11 pm

    Wow, this is brilliant. I don’t even have kids (yet), but this is going in my “Future” file. Great idea!

  • Breanne February 11, 2015, 3:02 pm

    One of the very first families I nannied for (back in high school) did this and I always told myself I would when I (hopefully one day) have kids. So smart!!!

  • Rachel Curling February 11, 2015, 3:04 pm

    This is so amazing! I don’t currently have kids, but I do love the organization and clutter aspects! Nice work!

  • Becky February 11, 2015, 9:42 pm

    I do the same thing in my special needs kindergarten classroom! I have a three week rotation and separated everything into books, small toys in bins (cars, pretend food, dollhouse furniture, etc) and bigger toys for the shelves (Leap Pad toys, musical instruments, etc). It makes rotating the toys so much easier! We hear a lot of the same musical toys over and over again so this helps me not lose my mind!

  • Nicole February 11, 2015, 10:28 pm

    I used to rotate the upstairs toys with the downstairs toys and it definitely made the toys keep their appeal longer! Now, my older daughter is almost 6 and we’ve been doing something different for about a year. Now, all of her toys are put away all the time. She can get one set out at a time,like dolls and their clothes/accessories, but she has to have me put it up before she can get anything else out. She can lose the privilege to play with toys also as a punishment. What stays out all the time no matter what is her craft supplies, music, puzzles and games, and books because I would never want to inhibit stimulating her creativity or learning. Stuffed animals stay out too but I rotate them like you do the toys. Sometimes kids just need a snuggly stuffed friend!

    It definitely helps keep toys from getting out of control but it also keeps us from fighting over cleaning up. It’s simpler this way, I think, and it’s working, which is what’s important!

  • Abby February 12, 2015, 6:42 am

    We do something similar. We keep a number of toys stored away in the basement to rotate with. When our girls, 4 & 2.5, are in the basement and see something they want to play with they have to go upstairs and exchange it with something of the same size. They are really good at it! I have a storage box full of art supplies/activities that were given to them as gifts as well. I also do the same thing when they are asleep go through their toys and toss and give away, except just recently I forgot to hide the giveaway bag and they found it and emptied it :). Simplicity Parenting also has great tips for toy clutter too.

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