Posted on Leave a comment

How to Recognize Stress in Our Children

How to Recognize Stress in Our Children

We live in stressful times, and our children aren’t immune to this. However, it can be difficult, as parents, to recognize when our children are stressed out. Many children don’t have the proper words to express what they need or what’s bothering them, so it can be easy for parents to overlook their child’s stress.

It’s important, then, for parents to recognize the common signs of stress in children so they can get to the bottom of what’s going on.

Behavioral signs of stress

Children often display their stress and anxiety when they start acting out. Moodiness, aggression, even clinginess are all key behavioral signs of stress. This can happen at home, but it can also happen at school (especially if the source of stress is school). Teachers might complain that your child is getting into trouble or not paying attention in class. They might also start skipping school, withdrawing from their friends or family, and the like. If this starts happening with your child, try to get to the bottom of it before exacting a punishment.

Physical signs of stress

In addition to behavioral signs, there are also a few physical signs. Some of these include the following:

What to do

If your child is showing any of the above signs or symptoms, it’s important to try and find out why. Try talking with your child to see what it is that’s bothering them and what you can do to help. Once you know the reason, you can create a plan of action to try alleviating some of their stress. It’s also a good idea to teach your child better ways to manage their stress. This can be done through counseling or through regular mindfulness practices.

At The Zoo Factory, we believe our stuffable animals can be a great source of comfort for children during these times. To learn more, look through our inventory or contact us today.

Posted on Leave a comment

When Is A Newborn Baby Old Enough For Stuffed Animals?

When Is A Newborn Baby Old Enough For Stuffed Animals?

When it comes to bringing a newborn baby home, medical experts advise parents to do and not do many different things. SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is a leading cause of death for children under one year of age. An important piece of information parents should follow is to avoid placing toys, blankets or anything else into the crib that could increase chances of suffocation or SIDS.

The dangers of stuffed animals to newborns

While stuffed animals are cute, fuzzy and appealing to babies, they can pose a threat. Most babies learn to roll over between three and four months old, which increases the chances of suffocation. There are plenty of things you can do to decorate a nursery before it’s safe to put blankets and animals in the crib.

Wait until about 12 months of age

Newborn babies don’t have the strength or skill to remove items from their face while in the crib. This is why the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents do not put soft objects in a baby’s crib until 12 months of age. A soft object includes a stuffed animal, regardless of size.   

But keep an eye out for signs of maturity

There is a definite benefit of waiting for that first birthday before purchasing a plush friend for your baby. However, just like with many other things, you’ll have to wait for signs of maturity and development, and not really a number. A good guideline is about one year, but when your baby can remove things from his or her face, that’s when it’s safe to start the snuggling!

At The Zoo Factory, we have tons of adorable and soft stuffed animal kits that make a great gift idea for your child’s first birthday. By this milestone, you’ll have a sense for what animals and colors your child prefers, making the buying process easier. Look through our inventory to get started!

 

Posted on Leave a comment

How to Throw a Birthday Party During COVID-19

How to Throw a Birthday Party During COVID-19

From school to work, COVID-19 has disrupted many aspects of our lives. It has even changed how we celebrate our children’s birthdays. We want this day to be special for our kids, but we also want to keep them and their friends safe from the virus. While you can’t hold a traditional birthday party in these times, you can put your own spin on it while keeping everybody healthy and safe.

Drive-by parties

If you want your child to see their friends in person, but you don’t want to run the risk of close contact, a drive-by birthday party is a great compromise. Put up signs and balloons in your front yard and have guests drive up to say hello for a few minutes. Guests can then hand over their birthday presents, while you can give those who stopped by a gift bag as well. At The Zoo Factory, we have Carry Home Boxes and other animal kits that are great for this purpose.

Zoom parties

If a drive-by party isn’t possible to do in your neighborhood, you can always opt for a zoom party. These are virtual parties done over Zoom or other video chat channels. While there is no risk of someone contracting COVID-19 from a zoom party, we still recommend that you keep the guest list small. Having more than 10 people (especially children) on one video call can get unruly. To get started, you can read our guide on hosting a zoom party here.

Backyard parties

Finally, if you’re in an area with low COVID-19 numbers, you can hold a small, outdoor party without much risk of infection. Keep the guest list small, and always provide the option for guests to attend through Zoom or Facetime instead (especially elderly family members). Do not let anyone into your home but keep the party outside in your backyard where there’s plenty of space to spread out. You’ll also want to keep high-contact activities to a minimum.

We may have to stay socially distant, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still have fun. If you’re planning on throwing a birthday party during COVID-19, then take a look at some of our party kits to get started! 

Posted on Leave a comment

The Benefits of Mindfulness for Kids

The Benefits of Mindfulness for Kids

At its core, mindfulness is all about awareness. It means being fully present and noticing what’s happening around us. Most of us practice mindfulness in daily meditation practices that use our breath or our senses to keep us in the present moment. By staying present, we are able to enjoy a wide variety of benefits both in the short term and the long term.

While mindfulness can be extremely beneficial to adults, it can also bring a wide range of benefits to kids. Here’s how:

It strengthens cognitive skills

Cognitive functions such as organizational skills, attention spans, and remembering details can be strengthened by repetitive mindfulness practices. In fact, one study conducted over an 8-week period showed that a regular mindfulness program helped children better focus on the task at hand while also learning how to regulate their emotions.

Mindfulness can improve emotional health

In the modern day, stress, anxiety, and depression all seem to be commonplace. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Daily mindfulness practices can actually ease symptoms of anxiety and depression, improving overall self-esteem and emotional health. This is accomplished by teaching kids how to be present, and to reflect on their emotions in order to better understand them.

There are social benefits too

By improving their cognitive skills and their emotional health, mindfulness can also help our children when interacting with their peers. Mindfulness allows for greater empathy and compassion, helping kids better understand the people they interact with on a daily basis.

How to practice mindfulness

Clearly, a daily mindfulness practice can be a great help to our kids, but how do we get started? Thankfully, there are a few ways you can go about it:

  • Download a meditation appmany popular apps such as Headspace or Calm offer special meditation plans for children.
  • Buy a book on children’s mindfulness – in addition to apps, there are also many books available to teach parents and kids how to practice mindfulness.
  • Practice Breathing Buddies – this is a breathing exercise uses stuffed animals to teach kids how to focus on their breath.

At The Zoo Factory, we believe a daily meditation or mindfulness practice can greatly benefit all children. So, if you’re searching for a breathing buddy, look through our inventory to find yours today!