How does it happen: One day, he's a cooing newborn who needs only a rattle or the sight of your smile to entertain him, and the next he's a busy 3-year-old who has amassed a collection of playthings that could fill 15 toy boxes?
And picking a path through that litter of Legos, dolls, action figures, plastic dishes, game pieces, storybooks and assorted other baubles is an ever-present frustration for some parents, especially when many of those toys might not have been played with in weeks.
The good news is when the kids are ready to part with them, there are plenty of ways to find new, loving homes for that pile of long-neglected toys.
And some of the methods might even bring in a little cash, too.
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Yard sales are a popular option. And then there are, of course, Web sites such as eBay and Craigslist, where some parents list items for sale.
Lexington also has several resale shops — including Once Upon a Child, Re-Kid and Kid to Kid — that buy toys and related items.
Jason Newland, who co-owns Kid to Kid on Helmsdale Place near Hamburg, said people who bring toys to the store to sell can get more for them than they would at a yard sale. And "they don't have the trouble" of pricing the items and hanging out all weekend waiting for them to sell.
Newland said the store generally pays sellers about 40 percent of the initial price that will be put on the item, or sellers may choose store credit.
He said the store accepts a wide variety of toys, but bigger items such as ride-ons, dollhouses, play kitchens and tool benches are particularly good sellers, as are baby toys and electronics such as Leapsters.
"You never know what people will bring in," he said. "There really is a second home for all of these toys."
Consignment sales are another option.
"The convenience of (selling) it all in one place" makes such sales an attractive option for many parents, said Jennifer Upton, who operates Kentucky Kids Consignment Sales LLC in Elizabethtown and Murray.
With consignment sales such as those operated by Upton, sellers generally register online, enter the items they want to sell into an inventory system and print tags. Afterward, sellers receive a percentage of the proceeds from the sale of their items.
"There's a triple stroller I've sold three times," she said, noting that someone will buy it, use it with their kids and then bring it back to resell.
Often, volunteers who work such sales get the added perk of being able to shop before the public.
"You can come and shop and get first pick on what will fit them and what they'll play with," Upton said. "Most moms just want to break even."
Laura Sparks, who lives in Nicholasville, said she's recently discovered a fun way to get rid of old toys — a toy swap.
"I think it's going to be the new Tupperware Party for our generation," she said.
While they don't generate any money, Sparks said toy swaps have proven more convenient to her than consignment sales and resale shops.
Sparks has held two such parties, inviting other friends to her home and asking them to bring "whatever toys you're tired of."
At her most recent swap, she said about eight guests showed up on a Saturday morning with boxes of toys, along with children's CDs, movies and books. They chatted for a bit, then everybody picked out what they wanted from the items that had been brought.
"Everyone went home with tons of stuff," Sparks said. "It was a lot of fun."
And the best part: her children got lots of "new" toys that didn't cost Sparks a penny.
Sparks said her family lives on one income, so "you have to be creative. We want to spoil them. We don't have the money to spoil them."
And besides, she said, buying new toys when the children already have an abundance "just seems so wasteful."
An Internet search also turns up several Web sites where parents may trade old toys.
Items that nobody wanted to take home from Sparks' swaps were donated to Goodwill.
For parents who simply want to get rid of the toys without getting anything in return, donating them is always an option.
Church nurseries and other organizations that provide child care are often happy to accept hand-me-down toys.
And the Faith and Community Christmas Store, managed by the Catholic Action Center, gives gently used toys, games, books and the like to families who are in need each Christmas.
Sparks said she has given away toys through Freecycle.org, but that method is "a lot more hit and miss," because people sometimes fail to show up to get the items offered, and she said she rarely got items she listed on the site that she would like to have.
Regardless of the method, Sparks said she's found that simplifying her kids' toy collection has had multiple benefits.
"They honestly play better, the less stuff that they have," she said, adding, "I feel better when things are in order, and I don't have things all over the place."