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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 Early Education Centres, 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 or Mt Roskill and see the toys in action.

Wee Bubbas

Our little 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 resources 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 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.