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How a Teddy Bear Might Help Your Child Sleep

Little boy sleeping with teddy bear

Dreaded are the nights your child doesn’t sleep, whether they are flat-out refusing to go to bed or waking you up often because they simply can’t sleep at all. Establishing a bedtime routine often becomes a nightly battle with little ones. Unfortunately, the effects of poor sleep can extend from the night well into the morning, following your child to school which can contribute to trouble retaining information, a lack of concentration, and even behavioral problems.

However, recent research shows that there are a variety of ways to remedy these problems, some of which might surprise you!  A healthy sleep routine should be encouraged by both parents and educators.

Creating a bedtime routine

Research has shown that teddy bears can be effective when demonstrating a sleep routine to a child. Parents and educators alike have been using the teddy bear to teach children how to develop a bed time routine. By having a child instruct a teddy bear on how to get ready for bed, much like a parent would instruct a child, a child can learn to model and mock the behavior.

A source of comfort

Teddy bears can not only help create a bedtime routine, but they can also provide a source of comfort. After all, who wouldn’t feel at ease curling up in bed with their favorite teddy? This is especially helpful for kids that deal with nightmares, as a teddy bear can keep them calm and hopefully keep the nightmares away.

Interested in incorporating a beloved teddy bear into your child’s bedtime routine? Visit The Zoo Factory today and choose from dozens of fun and soft teddy bears and animals.

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Toys that Enhance a Child’s Imagination

Toys that Enhance a Child’s Imagination

Children have amazing imaginations and their ability to play pretend and think up stories is inspiring. For many children, role-playing and creativity is often sparked through play. Playing with different types of toys can help to fuel a child’s imagination, helping them to become more innovative and imaginative. Read on to learn more:

Playing with Costumes

When children play dress-up, their imaginations run wild! They can take ordinary clothes and turn them into fantastical stories, but they can also play with costumes. Costumes allow children to dress up as superheroes, historical figures, doctors, movie stars, animals, and more. They allow children to “become someone else” in a matter of minutes, resulting in endless hours of fun. Save some of your old clothing, such as shoes, purses, and ties, that could work perfectly for a costume!

Playing with Art Supplies

Give a child (washable) colorful markers and watch them create new worlds and amazing ideas. Playing with art supplies triggers a child’s imagination, allowing them to put their thoughts and dreams into something real and tangible. Art is the perfect platform for allowing children to explore their personal creativity. Children just love to get messy with glitter, glue, stickers, and paints! You can also follow these tips on an easy clean up to limit the mess.

Playing with Toy Cars

The concept of traveling to new and unseen places can heat up a child’s imagination. Children relate vehicles with trips to school, the park, grandma’s house, the beach, and more. Children love going places and experiencing new things, and they often associate cars with that concept. Playing with toy cars, buses, and trains give children the opportunity to take trips in their minds.

Playing with Stuffed Animals

Playing pretend often starts with your child’s first stuffed animal, which they will love and adore like a true friend. Stuffed animals, such as teddy bears, can kick-start your child’s imagination because they will often treat their furry friend as a real person. Stuffed animals can benefit children of all ages.

Encourage your child’s imagination with a stuffable animal from The Zoo Factory. Children will love the idea of building their very own stuffed animal and making it on their own.

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How to Start a Family Fitness Challenge

How to Start a Family Fitness Challenge

We all understand the importance of staying fit, not just for our children but for ourselves as well. However, it can be difficult to motivate everyone. That’s where family fitness challenges come in. Fun for the whole family, these challenges can motivate the adults and children to reach their fitness goals. Here’s how to start:

Pick a goal

A family fitness challenge requires every member of the family to work towards a goal. Picking that goal, however, will require some thought. Some families do the same sport and work towards, say, running a mile under 10 minutes. Yet, you may find that not every member of your family wants to run or do the same sport. If that’s the case, you can all have your own individual goals. Your son may work on improving his batting average, while your daughter can try to do 30 consecutive push-ups.

Make a plan

Now that you have your goal(s), it’s time to make a plan to reaching it. Detail how each person will reach their fitness goal and find a way to monitor their efforts (such as fitness logs, training apps, and more). You should also have a timeframe for when the challenge starts and when it ends. If you would like certain rules or guidelines, these should be agreed upon before the challenge starts.

Choose a reward

A fitness challenge can be arduous, but you can keep everyone motivated with a reward. If your family is the competitive type, you can all compete to see who reaches their goal first. Whoever does gets a reward of their choosing. However, you can also reward each person who manages to meet their fitness goal in the allotted time. Almost anything can be a reward—a trip, cash, a new toy, or a fancy meal.

One way you can reward your kids for meeting their fitness goals is to get them a stuffable animal from The Zoo Factory. Look through our website to get started!

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How Teddy Bears Help with Alzheimer’s and Childhood Trauma

How Teddy Bears Help with Alzheimer's and Childhood Trauma

Teddy bears are used in children’s hospitals, senior living homes, and by psychologists as therapeutic tools which help our minds cope with life events and circumstances. These soft and cuddly animals make for great collector’s items and even cute decorations, but they can also impact people’s lives for the better. Research has shown that teddy bears can help individuals cope with Alzheimer’s and childhood trauma. Learn more below:

Healing Childhood Trauma

If a person struggles with their worth or feels unlovable, it’s because something created these core beliefs very early. Childhood trauma is usually the culprit and when left ignored, it festers into a broken adulthood.

So how do you deal with childhood trauma in adulthood? You must first deal with the inner child, which a teddy bear is representative of. Adults can use their new companion to represent how they wanted to be treated as a child.

This behavior of treating the teddy bear as an actual child should be on-going for changes to take effect. This may feel strange at first, but it helps the adult learn how to nurture others, feel less alone, and realize that self-care is important.

Therapy for Alzheimer’s

Sometimes the simplest things can bring pleasure to someone. Teddy bears give Alzheimer’s patients something to love and cherish and even take care of. It’s a great tool to help the patient connect with their world and feel a part of it.

If the patient has trouble relating with other people, dramatic play is a great way to foster that connection and relate in a meaningful way. For some, the teddy bear alone is helpful and gives them something to “talk” to.

Others like to care for the bear as they would a baby and give it a lot of affection. For some seniors, this fulfills their day and gives them a sense of responsibility.

We hope the next time you look at a teddy bear, you’ll see that it can be used as more than just a child’s toy. At the Zoo Factory, we have a wide variety of 8 and 16 inch bears and other stuffed animals for bulk sale. We also have a selection of outfits that can enhance the therapy experience for you.

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The Best Games for Kids with ADHD

The Best Games for Kids with ADHD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is one of the most common conditions in children across the nation. It can be a difficult condition to live with for both the child and the parent, but thanks to advances in modern medicine and psychiatry, many children grow up to live full and happy lives. However, it does mean making some lifestyle and parenting changes, including what kinds of games your child plays.

Movement-based games

Kids with ADHD often have a problem sitting still. Games that rely on movement, such as Twister, can help burn off that excess energy. Even something as simple as an indoor trampoline or a game of catch can help your child deal with their hyperactivity.

Computer or video games

Inattentiveness is a common symptom of ADHD, but on the flip side there is also hyperfocus. In other words, kids with ADHD can develop a laser-like focus on an activity they find particularly enjoyable. Many kids apply this hyperfocus to computer or video games.

Turn-based games

Turn-based board games such as Uno, Sorry!, or even turn-based strategy games like Civilization, can teach valuable lessons to children with ADHD. Oftentimes people with ADHD struggle with patience and waiting their turn, so a turn-based game can help instill those skills.

Mobile games

Just as computer or video games are great for kids with ADHD, so too are mobile games. There are a wide variety of games on the App Store and Google Play that would be great for your child. Puzzles, strategy games, and even movement-based games (think Pokemon Go) can all be found on your smartphone or tablet.

Solo games

One of the advantages of ADHD is that your child with have a rich, inner world. While they may struggle with inattentiveness, these same children will have a wonderful creative streak. This creative side can come out in solo activities, such as playing with dolls or stuffed animals where they can play out stories and characters. A doll or stuffed animal companion can also help deal with anxious emotions that many children with ADHD struggle with.

Here at The Zoo Factory, our stuffable animals can be a great toy for children with ADHD. Look through our website to find the perfect stuffed animal friend for your child!

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How to Prepare for the New School Year

How to Prepare for the New School Year

Summer is drawing to a close and soon our kids will be heading back to school. In the weeks ahead, it’s good for kids and parents to start preparing for the new school year. This is especially important this year with the coronavirus still spreading across the country and many kids remaining unvaccinated. Read on to learn how your family can prep for school in the coming weeks:

Create routines early

Routines can help your child stay on track each day. By getting up, going to school, and doing homework all at the same times each day, it’ll be easier for your child to get their work done. However, it’s important to start these routines early, preferably before school starts. That way the transition is easier on their first day of school.

Make pandemic preparations

Kids under 12 years of age are unable (as of writing this blog post) to get vaccinated. As a result, schools, parents, and children need to take extra precautions to keep everyone safe. Different school districts will have different requirements, so it’s important to be aware of your school’s rules before sending your child off for their first day. At the very least, make sure they have masks and hand sanitizer handy throughout the day.

Set realistic expectations

What would you and your child like to get out of the coming school year? Perhaps you want to get their grades up, or maybe they’re interested in getting involved in a new sport. Whatever your goals are, it’s important to set realistic expectations. For example, if your child has been getting Cs in Math, aim for a B instead of an A this year. To further encourage your child, offer rewards for a job well done.

One way you can encourage your child to do well this year is to give them a stuffable animal friend. Look through our inventory today to get started!

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How Stuffed Animals Can Ease Depression Symptoms

How Stuffed Animals Can Ease Depression Symptoms

Teddy bears and toy stuffed animals are usually our first fuzzy friends. We are given them as toys when we are small and they bring children comfort, joy and a cuddle buddy. But can stuffed animals be more than just playthings?

According to a study done by the UV University of Amsterdam, people with depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem may benefit by owning a teddy bear or two to cuddle with.

 

Stuffed animals soothe us

Sander Koole, a lead researcher from the university, reported cuddling with a teddy bear for example can soothe existential fears and can give some sense of existential significance.

It’s not just UV University of Amsterdam that believes teddy bears can help. A researcher at Boise State University has been doing research among those with dissociative identity disorder and teddy bears. Rose M. Barlow of the Department of Psychology at Boise State wanted to see if stuffed animals would serve clients equally as well as live animals.

Barlow surveyed a sample of high and low dissociative female college students and those with dissociative identity disorder (DID) about attachment to live and stuffed animals. She found that the DID women had significantly stronger attachments to both live and stuffed animals than any of the other women. She also found that those with high dissociation and those with DID reported higher levels of attachment to stuffed animals than live animals when compared to the low dissociative group.

The idea isn’t new

The idea of using stuffed animals to cure depression is not new. Stuffed dogs, cats and teddy bears have been given to children during wartime around the world.

Tel Aviv University has been using stuffed animals on children from war-torn countries with post-traumatic stress disorder to help them cope. Some children started to express themselves through the stuffed animals, which helped their teachers and parents provide better care for them. A study based on parents’ testimonies showed that 83 percent of the children suffered from stress, separation fears, aggression, excessive crying, nightmares and other issues.

Just three weeks after receiving the stuffed dogs, children showed improvement. Two month later, 71 percent had lost their severe stress reactions. This is twice as many as the children who didn’t have stuffed dogs.

A stuffed animal can bring comfort and joy to those who might need a friend but are still wary of stepping out into the world and meeting someone new. Just having something soft to cuddle with can help create a safe space for those who need a little extra help. If you’re looking for a stuffed animal for you or someone else, then look through our website here at The Zoo Factory!

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What to Do When Your Child Gets Overstimulated

What to Do When Your Child Gets Overstimulated

You’re at the grocery store trying to stock up for the week. Then, suddenly, your child starts to scream and cry. No matter what you do, they won’t stop crying, and you eventually declare defeat and head home. Sometimes our children do this when they’re stressed, but they may also do this when they’re overstimulated. By recognizing the signs of overstimulation, you can help your child calm down sooner rather than later.

What is overstimulation?

Overstimulation occurs when a child is overcome with various sounds, sensations, and activities. This typically happens in loud, crowded areas such as a grocery store, school, a party, and more. Adults can often feel overstimulated as well, but with kids, they are less equipped to handle it. As a result, kids (especially toddlers) have meltdowns from too much stimulation.

Signs of overstimulation

Different children will react to overstimulation in different ways. Some may become more hyper or aggressive, while others might begin to cry or run off to a different room. Babies and toddlers are more often to cry and scream when they’re overstimulated. School-age children, meanwhile, may start acting wild, out-of-character, grumpy, or exhausted.

How to calm an overstimulated child

If your child starts to become overstimulated, it’s best not to panic. Stay calm and try to take your child to a quiet place. Let them sit quietly while doing a calming activity like reading, playing with a stuffed animal, or cuddling up with you. Once they’ve calmed down, ask them if they’d like to return to what they were doing or if they’d like to do something else.

Find the right amount of stimulation

In the future, it’s important to find what amount of stimulation your child can handle. This can help prevent meltdowns. Over time you’ll start to see patterns, and you’ll realize what situations cause your child the most stress. This does not mean you have to avoid these situations, but it may be a good idea to limit how much time you spend in them and give your child the ability to get away to relax.

Here at The Zoo Factory, we believe in the calming effect of stuffed animals. If you think a stuffed animal friend can help your child with overstimulation, look through our website today!

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Benefits of Taking Your Child Camping

Benefits of Taking Your Child Camping

If you’re looking to teach your child about the natural world and want to slow down their fast-paced lifestyle, a camping trip may be the perfect thing to try.

Bringing your child camping during their formative years is important for their development and exposes them to areas of the world they may be unaccustomed to. Although camping may not be for every child, it’s a great learning experience and certainly something worth trying out.

They learn about the natural world

A great way to have your child connect with nature is by taking them on a camping trip. Your child will be exposed to many different plants, animals and activities that will teach them about the natural world and how we coexist with it.

Whether you take a nature walk looking for different critters and insects, discover and inspect different plants, trees or rocks, or anything in between, you’ll be allowing your child to gain a better understanding of the wild.

They become self-reliant

Although it may be years before they need to take care of themselves completely, camping instills good habits that will translate well to your child’s adult life.

By learning how to start a fire, set up a tent or even how to catch a fish, your child will improve their problem solving, learn how to overcome obstacles and more. And in the event that they are in an emergency situation in the future, they will have a better chance of staying safe with the knowledge they picked up on camping trips.

They unplug from technology

Younger generations have grown up with technology at their fingertips. While this certainly has its benefits, it’s sometimes helpful to turn off electronics to let your youngster’s imagination run wild.

Taking your child camping is a great way to shut off their tablets and other devices for a day or two. Your child will have many things to keep them stimulated and it will teach them to find entertainment in other ways.

According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, children that are 8-12 spend 4-6 hours a day looking at screens. Camping can help spark a passion for the outdoors and can cut down on screen time in the long run.

No matter how much your child enjoys their first outdoor experience, it can be natural for them to be nervous when going to sleep their first few nights outdoors. Bringing along their favorite stuffed animal can be a great way to have them feeling safe and secure while dozing off.

When your child wants a few extra buddies to take along on your upcoming nature adventure, The Zoo Factory has everything you need. View our inventory of stuffed animals to find the perfect outdoor companion for your child!

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How to Protect Your Kids from the Summer Heat

How to Protect Your Kids from the Summer Heat

School is out and summer is here! While you’re getting ready for pool parties, summer camps, and the like, don’t forget about summer safety. Our kids can be particularly susceptible to the summer sun and heat. So, here are some ways you and your kids can beat the heat this summer:

Lather up on sunscreen

Sunscreen is a must for kids six years and older. The sun’s UV rays can cause nasty sunburns and even put your kids at risk for skin cancer later in life. Before heading outside or into the pool, apply sunscreen 15 minutes prior to stepping outside. Your sunscreen should have an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of at least 15 or greater (the higher the number, the more protection it affords).

Stay hydrated

Heat stroke and dehydration are one of summer’s biggest threats. Even if the temperature is relatively mild, your child can still get dehydrated quickly. Always have a bottle of water on-hand whenever you go outside. You should also be aware of the top signs of dehydration so you can catch it before it gets worse.

Never leave children in parked cars

Even if you’re stepping away for just a few minutes, you should never leave your child in a parked car. Cars can heat up rapidly, reaching dangerous temperatures in just a few minutes. The higher the temperature, the greater the risk of a heat-related illness or death, even if the window is cracked open. If you’re leaving your car, always bring your child with you.

Cool off inside

You can take all the steps above and still find your children hot and dehydrated. It’s important to take a break from the heat and find somewhere inside to cool off, preferably in an air-conditioned room. While they’re inside cooling off, give your kids some toys, video games, or stuffed animals to play with and to keep them occupied before it’s time to head back outside.

The Zoo Factory has plenty of stuffed animals your children can play with either inside or outside this summer. Look through our inventory today to get started!