Any day care is going to need to have on hand all the necessary equipment. This encompasses cribs, high chairs, booster seats, strollers, car seats and toys. The first five are fairly self explanatory, but what sorts of toys should you buy? The very nature of day care almost guarantees that you will have a children in all age groups, from infants on up, and while some toys easily cross age gaps, a majority will not.
Infants through about six months have very little mobility, and therefore will need toys that will stimulate them without frustrating them because of their inability to interact. Soft toys in bright colors that they can put in their mouth are an excellent choice, and if they should happen to make noise all the better. As infants will taste everything in their attempts to identify it, items with sharp corners, loose attachments (such as beads or eyes), or excessive amounts of hair (think stuffed dog) are better suited for older children.
Providing colorful pictures for the child to look at while lying down or being changed will delight them, as will a colorful, patterned blanket for tummy time. Many bouncy seats provide a toy bar for the infant to stare at while seated, and allow for interaction as the child grows and learns to use their hands to reach for things.
From six months to a year children learn to use their hands to explore objects. Soft toys, books, and teething rings are a good choice. This is also a good age to bring out plastic keys, telephones, bathtub squirting toys (be sure they are dry, clean and free of mildew on the inside), rattles, and any other item the child can hold in their hand easily, so long as they do not possess small parts which may present a choking hazard. Soft balls the child can throw will please them, as they are still learning how to use their hands and are delighted by the cause and effect of seeing a ball fly after they throw it.
From one to two years, children are beginning to understand the concept of play. Toys with small parts or sharp edges should still be avoided, but this is the age where the toddler will truly begin to interact with a toy. Anything that makes noise will be enjoyed, whether it be a plastic piano, xylophone, or a bowl and spoon. Blocks they can stack and knock down are popular, although at this age many children have trouble with the concept of blocks that lock together. Plenty of picture books should be available, with sturdy pages (preferably board books) and large, colorful illustrations.
From two to four children begin to engage in imaginary play, learning how to play with other children. Toys that allow them to explore their creativity should be available-dolls and doll sized infant gear, large action figures, toy vehicles, play kitchens and food, and blocks that allow them to build buildings and vehicles are now appropriate. Balls, playground equipment (both inside and outside), ride-on toys and other such physical outlets will be necessary as well, as children this age often have a tremendous amount of energy. This is a good time to stock your art supplies as well, keeping crayons, watercolors, fingerpaints, washable markers and coloring books/paint paper on hand at all times. It will astonish you what those budding geniuses will produce given the proper supplies, and this is an excellent way to occupy them on a rainy day.