How to Choose the Right Toys for a Daycare

The best toys for a daycare should be age appropriate and meet the highest levels of safety standards. Considering the safety aspects of each toy and the age appropriateness is key to choosing the best toys for a daycare.

Thousands of children are injured each year by unsafe toys. Following all instructions and making sure children are supervised at all times will decrease accidents.

How to Choose the Right Toys for a Daycare

Choose the Right Toy for the Right Age

  • First consider the safety of each toy in your daycare setting.
  • Does the child have the ability to play with the toy in the right way?
  • Does the child understand how to use the toy?
  • Does the toy meet the needs, interests, and various levels of a child’s development?

Warning labels on toys give you important information about how to use the toy and what age child the toy is safe for. Show the child how to safely use the toy and make sure they understand.

Think big, think large. The size of the toys you buy for a child should be large enough that they cannot fit into the child’s mouth. In the early stages of a child’s life they tend to put everything in their mouths, but even if they’re past this stage, you should still keep an eye out for toys with moving parts that can come off and become a danger to a child.

Toys that shoot out objects, like nerf guns, are not a good choice for a daycare. These toys, even though they seem harmless, can cause damage to the eyes and can also be a choking hazard.

This would include any kind of toy gun that shoots plastic bullets, and toys that shoot projectiles as part of a game.

This same principle applies to toys that are too loud. Children’s hearing is sensitive, and loud noises can potentially cause hearing loss. Today’s kids are more at risk for noise-induced hearing loss because of the use of smart devices and other personal audio technology that’s available to them.

The noisy technology in use today is a primary cause of early hearing loss. So, make sure the toys you use at your daycare aren’t overly loud. Teach children to keep the volume down on any tech toys in the daycare. Noise cancelling headphones are a good idea when a child is playing with a toy that makes loud noises.

If you’re going to provide stuffed toys of any kind in your daycare, make sure they are well made. Check the seams and edges to see that they are sewn together well and can’t be picked apart by little hands.

It’s best to choose stuffed animals and toys that don’t have any extra parts like button eyes and noses or clothing parts like ribbons. These can come loose or be torn off and become a choking hazard. Stuffed toys should also be machine washable and not be stuffed with pellets that can cause choking or suffocation.

Any plastic toys you provide for your daycare should be made of sturdy plastic; the cheaper the plastic, the faster the toy will crack and fall apart. That’s a waste of your money and a possible danger to a child. Also avoid toys made of toxic materials; they present a poisoning risk. Toy labels should say “nontoxic,” poisons used in toys can include lead, arsenic and cadmium, to name a few.

Electric toys for your daycare should be UL approved. If a toy is UL approved it means that the global safety certification company, Underwriters Laboratories, has tested the toy and found it safe for use by children.

Underwriters Laboratories is a government approved company that’s been around for over one hundred years and whose job it is to test all kinds of products and make sure they meet safety specifications.

Be especially careful with any crib toys you buy for the infants in your care. Many of them can cause a baby to become entangled or to suffocate. Remove any hanging crib toys as soon as a baby reaches five months of age or when they start to push up on their hands and knees.

About Recalled Toys

All the toys you provide for children in your daycare must be inspected to protect children from danger. The Consumer Product Safety Commission is the organization that makes the safety guidelines for toys, among other products.

They have recalled many toys through the years for issues like unsafe lead levels, choking and fire hazards and many other issues that can make a toy dangerous in the hands of a child.

Items like infant incline sleepers, Johnson & Johnson baby powder, children’s water bottles. and even some popular cookies have been recalled through the years. Contact this agency to find out what toys have been recalled and why; this gives you a guideline to use to protect the children in your care.

How to Choose the Right Toys for a Daycare

Best Toys for Infants:

Manhattan Toy Winkle Rattle and Sensory Teether

This toy promotes clutching and two-handed play and also has a pleasing rattle sound. It’s soft and safe for babies, is a multiple newborn toy award winner and is PBA free. As a teether it’s safe for ages 0-24 months (about 2 years).

Infantino Squeeze and Stack Block Set

This type of stacking toy is great for enhancing a child’s depth perception and hand-eye coordination. They’ll also learn about sizing order and size differences.

Best Toys for Two Year Olds:

Count and Learn Count Cookie Jar

With this toy from The Learning Journey two-year-old children will learn to recognize numbers and count to ten. When they place a numbered cookie in the jar, they hear the numbers one through ten spoken each time. This toy also teaches fine

Melissa and Doug Classic Wooden Peg Puzzles

These puzzles for two-year olds are designed with tiny fingers in mind. They will help develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.

Dimpl Digits

This toy lets two-year olds touch, push, pop and learn about numerals 1 through 10. The bubbles are embossed with the numerals 1 through 10 and is accompanied by its matching word in English.

How to Choose the Right Toys for a Daycare

Best Toys for Three Year Olds:

Melissa and Doug Learn-to-Play Piano

This piano has 25 keys in two octaves, so three-year olds can experiment with high and low notes and loud and soft sounds. It comes with a songbook so kids can actually play real songs.

Magna Tiles

Three-year olds will love this educational toy that will introduce them to shapes, colors, engineering, principles of magnets, symmetry, and other important concepts.

Magna Tiles are also great for developing fine motor skills. There are several different sets to choose from with a variety of piece counts and color options.

Best Toys for Four Year Olds:

Orboot Augmented Reality Interactive Globe

This globe is a best seller on Amazon. It comes with an app that lets kids focus in on any region they’re interested in to learn more. The app has more than 1,000 world facts for four-year olds to explore.

Leap Reader Reading and Writing System

Four-year olds will be guided through letter formation, sounding out words, and vocabulary-building games. Parents can choose from more than 150 books and activities for the system.

Best Toys for Five Year Olds:

Rush Hour Junior Traffic Jam

This is a fun and engaging toy on many different levels for 5-year olds. It will help them develop their logic and critical thinking skills while having loads of fun.

Learning Resources Desktop Abacus

The abacus has been around for centuries and used as a very basic way to learn to count. It’s still a great toy for teaching beginning math concepts to 5-year olds. Children can visually and manually move the beads as they count, add, subtract, multiply and divide. Math concepts will be reinforced in a hands-on way.

Best Toys for Six and Seven Year Olds:


This is a building toy that is great for 6-7-year olds. They can build, bounce, and stick them to almost any flat surface. This toy will help your 6 and 7-year olds build their imagination while it entertains them for hours.


In this game 6 and 7-year olds will learn a variety of smart safari stumpers to get the animals in the game to safety. Logic skills and critical thinking are built when kids play this game.

 Morphy Game

Kids ages 7-10 and even older can enjoy the game of Morphy. This game challenges kids matching skills. Visual discernment skills, pattern recognition, logic, and strategy are used in this learning game.

How to Choose the Right Toys for a Daycare

Related Questions

  • Where do I look for the best toys?

With so many new toys coming out each year it can be mind boggling to find the best toys for your daycare. There are several toy awards programs that can help. These organizations pre-screen toys against very high standards to give you peace of mind that you’re buying the best.

Included in these programs are Parent’s Choice Award, Toy Insider, Family Choice Award and The National Parenting Center Seal of Approval. Look for their seals of approval when you purchase toys.

  • What kind of outdoor equipment should I buy?

Most outdoor equipment will be safe and fun for just about any age of child. Swings and slides are a good idea for all ages. Sandboxes are fun for younger children and they stimulate imagination and creative play.

Climbing toys will strengthen children’s muscles and will also build their confidence. Investing in a playground system will pay off in the long run since it provides several activities in one place.

Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.

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How to Choose the Right Toys for a Daycare