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A Guide to Choosing the Right Toys for Each Early Childhood Age

child care toys

Toys are a wonderful way to keep babies, toddlers and preschoolers entertained, and they’re also excellent tools for learning and development. At Scribbles Childcare Centre, parents often tell us that they are confused by all the mixed messages out there over what toys are best for the different ages and stages their children go through.

To help our families wade through the sometimes-confusing world of toys, our daycare teachers have put together a helpful guide for toys through the ages. Of course, you’re always welcome to pop into our Auckland childcare centres in Mt Wellington, Onehunga or Mt Roskill and see the toys in action.

Wee Bubbas

Our littles daycare babies are still fascinated with their own hands, so they don’t need much in the way of toys. In the early months, bubba’s vision is blurry, so the best toys are ones that introduce new colours, shapes and textures – there’s little need for anything flashy and high-tech at this age. Squeaker toys and colourful mobile are great, as are black-and-white flash cards and rattles.

Bigger Babies

Babies getting into the second half of their first year benefit from toys that encourage their physical development, coordination and facial recognition. Older babies are also getting ready to crawl or already doing so – at our daycare centres, these babies love toys that motivate them to roll, creep or crawl. There’s also toys that will help ease the pain of teething babies. Try teething toy, activity mats, mirrors, o-balls and cloth books.


There is a wide range of toys appropriate for this age range and it starts to become more individualised based on their interests and personality. Generally speaking, toddlers are fascinated by cause and effect so we always fill our daycare centre with toys that encourage this newfound interest.

In their own time, toddlers will start to be able to stack rings on a tower and sort shapes, and they’ll start to throw a ball, walk and talk. At Scribbles childcare centres in Mt Wellington, Onehunga and Mt Roskill, the toddlers’ areas are filled with blocks and push-pull toys, books, dolls and pretend toys like food, animals and trains.


The older children at preschool are starting to get impressive imaginations and unlimited creativity. This is the age for more interactive toys like arts and crafts and costumes, musical instruments and blocks. It’s also a great time to introduce early puzzles for problem solving and fun family games.

The Bottom Line

Toys are fun and support parents, caregivers and early childcare teachers in their education and care of youngsters – don’t stress about getting the exact right toy. After all, your child will just as happily play with the cardboard box or wrapping paper that a new toy comes in! And feel free to ask a daycare teacher about your child’s favourite toys or use community resources like Auckland’s Toy Library.

  • Being new to Auckland, we were nervous about finding a childcare centre for our son. We could not be more pleased with Scribbles Mount Wellington, it has fantastic facilities and it is so convenient being close to Sylvia Park for last minute shopping. Could not recommend Scribbles more highly.
    Kim Andrew
  • All the teachers rock! We can't thank you enough for  everything you do for our kids - they all absolutely adore you.
    Jack Close
  • The Scribbles team feel like family to us we always feel welcomed when we come in. If any help is needed please do not hesitate to ask... we are always happy to help if we can. Keep up the great work.
    Michelle Bright
  • I love all of the lovely staff at Scribbles, they really do feel like a happy family down there. And I love that they make my little girl feel like part of it. She loves it and at the end of the day that's all that matters. Thank you so much for everything.
    Dave Burke
  • My son has been at Scribbles since November 2015 and I am very happy with the service we get. The teachers are very nurturing/caring and that's what I ask for my baby. His career is fantastic, lovely and kind and he just loves seeing her each morning. Nellie runs a great ship and staff seem to be happy in what they do.
    Suzanne Manihera
We invite you to come into our Scribbles Childcare Centres in Auckland and have a look for yourself. See our wonderful early childhood education environment and speak to the team.