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  • Stuffed Animals as Playmates for Babies and Toddlers

    As infants, we enter the world with no knowledge of it, and a few of the first things we grow attached to are our mothers, fathers, and in many cases, the stuffed animals that are presented to us on our birthdays in the hospital. We form bonds with these people and things almost instantaneously, and they shape our perceptions of the world as we wield these tools for learning and interacting.

    One of the greatest gifts we can give a newborn baby or toddler is a stuffed animal, and here’s why.

    Educational Tools for Teaching Emotion and Expression  Stuffed Animals as Playmates for Babies and Toddlers

    When you gift an infant a stuffed animal, you may not know it, but you are teaching them about the world. Stuffed animals can be used to classify different animals, such as reptiles and aquatic creatures. Not only do these toys introduce your baby or toddler to the animal kingdom, but they can also help them process and understand human emotion and sensory details such as texture and color.

    What to look for in your Baby's First Stuffed Animal

    When choosing your baby’s first stuffed animal, you will want to keep a few things in mind. Try to avoid animals with long fur or removable parts, as babies can easily choke on these. Also keep in mind that if the act is sentimental to you, you may want to opt for a stuffed animal that your toddler can hold onto once they are of preschool age. At this age, your child is beginning to develop more of an active imagination, and will most likely want to interact with their stuffed animal more, even simulating real-life scenarios and mimicking emotions.

    At the Zoo Factory, we encourage imaginative play, whether you’re 3, 15, or 67! We're never too young or too old to connect with our inner child.

    Enjoy our April promotional deal: Get a free pair of sunglasses with each 16’’ animal ordered today!

  • Teddy Bears Treat Alzheimer's and Childhood Trauma

    Teddy bears are used in children’s hospitals, senior living homes, and by psychologists and therapists as therapeutic tools which help our minds cope with life events and circumstances. This soft and cuddly animal makes for a great collector’s item, even a cute decoration, but being able to impact someone’s life for the better by gifting one is what we consider making the greatest use of a product.

    Here are a few ways in which teddy bears help treat Alzheimer's disease and childhood trauma in people.

    Heal Childhood Trauma Teddy Bears Treat Alzheimer's and Childhood Trauma

    If a person struggles with their worth, feels unlovable, or never good enough as an adult, it’s because something created these core beliefs very early. Childhood trauma is usually the culprit and when 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, like in the case of teddy bears for Alzheimer’s patients. The teddy bear gives them 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 with others and teddy bears 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.

  • Five Great Ways to Spoil Your Birthday Boy or Girl

    By the time your son or daughter is in the tween years, you're bound to start running out of creative gifts. To continue your reign as "parent of the year", you'll have to outdo yourself every year (which can get exhausting).

    Gather ideas from Pinterest, meet with friends, or hit up eHow for an array if handmade DIY gift ideas. They're sentimental, cost effective, and fun to make. Or, you can look at a few ideas that other parents love on forums and online communities

     Go Feral

    cat purse gift for young girls birthday party
    Animal prints and character purses are hot items with the pre-teen crowd. Opt for something like a stuffed animal purse, or an animal print clothing item.

    Let the Customization Begin

    Younger kids love to create things, especially when it comes to personalizing their toys, clothes, and living area. Red Envelope has fun, interactive pillows where kids can create characters and dress them, right on the pillow. Our guess is, this gift would take the fight right out of bedtime; it’s play-until-you-fall-asleep fun!

    Get fun Props for the Party Theme

    Photo Props from Paper Source always make for a silly and exciting time! Look for things that match the theme of the party. For example, if you were doing pirates, this Captain Hat & Beard would make a great party favor for guests to wear around!

    Friendship Bracelets

    Kids, particularly girls, love to honor and celebrate their friendship with matching bracelets, necklaces or scarves. Consider something like DIY projects where everyone can make two bracelets; be sure to tell everyone to give their item away after the party, to avoid any hurt feelings.

    American Girl Dolls and/or Accessories

    american girl doll clothing items and knockoff accessoriesA few weeks ago, we went in depth about our new collection of clothes that fit American Girl Dolls and other 18'' dolls. These dolls are huge with younger girls, preteens, and girls often keep them as collectables when they outgrow them.If your intended has an American Girl Doll, a unique outfit, sports uniform, or cute sundress would be a wonderful gift.

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  • Best Holiday Gift Ideas for Kids – INFOGRAPHIC

    Yes, we said Holiday. Wait! Before you do this:

    online holiday shopping for kids toys

    Read this:

    Okay, we know it's only September, and we know that feeling of nausea we all get when we hear holiday music in fall. We get it, it's too early, and we want to hold on to thoughts of summer break, but did you know that most people start their holiday shopping in September? It makes sense if you think about it, there are a lot of reasons to start the holiday shopping as early as possible. The only reason you don't want to start shopping too early (like May) is that wants and trends change. Moreover, if the anticipation gets the better of you, you may give in and give the gift early.  Fall is the perfect time, because it gives you enough time to shop at your convenience, and it gives you an insight into what's cool at school this year.

    Six Reasons to Start Your Holiday Shopping in September:

    “If it weren't for the last minute, nothing would get done.”― Rita Mae Brown

    • You'll Save Time – With more time and less people, you’ll be able to shop like it’s any other day of the year (because it is). Avoid long lines, volcanically hot stores, and grumpy people by shopping months ahead of the ‘crazy season’.
    • You'll Minimize Stress – This ties in with the above points; there’s nothing more frustrating than shopping for fifteen minutes, only to wait in line for forty-five.
    • You'll Choose Better Gifts – You’ll have a wider selection and more time to decide. This results in better, more thoughtful gifts
    • You'll Earn Bragging Rights – When someone invites you shopping, you’ll have the rewarding experience of saying “I’m already done!”
    • You'll Protect your Income – Wouldn’t it be better to spread your holiday budget over four months instead of four weeks?

    Okay, so you’re ready to go shopping, but what if you have no idea what is “big” with kids this year? Stuffable animals are always safe, but for a few more ideas, check out this infographic below!

    140 Most Popular Christmas Toys since 1900

    Explore more infographics like this one on the web's largest information design community - Visually.

     

  • It Pays to Know the Worth of Your Stuffed Animals

    When people have stuffed animals that may be worth money, they don’t necessarily want their little ones playing with them, undressing or dressing them or brushing their fur or hair. While this may seem like fun to the child, it could be doing irrevocable harm to the plush toy and in the world of antiquities, the better the item’s condition, usually the more valuable it is.

    A woman in Western New York recently reported a case in which her aunt had given the woman’s six year-old daughter an old teddy bear that belonged to the aunt in her youth. Kept in storage and still in good condition, the young child was eager to play with the plush toy and make it a part of her own collection.

    The mother relished watching her daughter play with the bear and was happy to tell her aunt that the bear had become a part of the child’s regular play things. But all that changed when the child’s grandmother, the sister of the aunt, saw the child playing with the stuffed bear and panicked. She recognized the bear as an antique, a Steiff to be exact. The German stuffed animal company, founded in 1880, is known for its production of high-quality stuffed animals.

    The grandmother was able to identify the Steiff bear based on the silver colored metal button on the left ear of the bear. It featured raised script that read “Steiff.” Knowing that she had quite the find in her hands, the grandmother did her best to pacify the child with the promise of the purchase of a new stuffed animal. She took her find to an appraiser who estimated the bear’s worth to be somewhere in the thousands of dollars.

    In the end, the grandmother was able to procure the stuffed animal and keep it in safe place, where it could continue to appreciate without sustaining any damage. She didn’t want to sell the toy out from under the child to whom the bear was given, but she also wanted to keep it nice until the child was grown and able to understand the true value of the bear.

    It’s not every day you find a treasure such as a Steiff stuffed animal. But if it ever happens, have it appraised by a professional antiques appraiser, specifically one who deals with antique toys, dolls and stuffed animals. This way, you’ll know whether or not your child’s play things could bring more money than you imagined.

  • Proper storage can protect your stuffed animals

    If you’ve ever had to put away your stuffed animals, for any reason, you know how difficult it can be, both for sentimental reasons and for matters pertaining to practicality. When it’s time to shelve stuffed animals, find a solution that works for you and for the longevity of the stuffed animals. Here’s how to get it done:

    Figure out how you want to store your stuffed animals. You may find that you want to display the collection, without having to put them away all together. Try using shelves or freestanding cases to display the stuffed animals that mean the most to you. If they are something that is not played with often, they will get dusty and musty. To protect them, try using a glass-front shelving system that can protect them while still allowing them to be seen.

    Perhaps you don’t mind not seeing the stuffed animals but still want them protected while in storage. You can purchase an easy to open box that will allow you or your child easy access to the stuffed animals without having to cut open brown cardboard boxes or large trash bags (which can be confused for garbage if not properly labeled). If the plastic toy bin is going to be kept inside a bedroom, be sure it’s not too tall or heavy so that it doesn’t injure someone if it tips over.

    Sometimes people choose to store stuffies in mesh bags such as the ones used for laundry. These are great for keeping stuffed animals off the floor and can be hooked on the back of a door or strung up from corner to corner in a room allowing for easy access. If they are not being kept in an attic, basement or other storage area, small stuffed animals can fit nicely into hanging shoe organizers. They peek out of pockets and can be a fun way for little ones to view and access their plush friends.

    Another fun option is to string stuffies from a clothesline in a child’s room. By attaching lighter stuffed animals with clothespins, they can be taken down and put back up with relative ease. This method really helps keep floors tidy.

    For long-term storage, consider keeping stuffed animals in plastic storage bins with locking or snapping lids. They can be found in a range of sizes and shapes and multiple bins can be stacked. Again, make sure if they are stacked that little ones cannot climb or tip them.

    By wrapping each stuffed animal in acid-free tissue paper or acid-free boxes, you can preserve the life of the stuffed animals when they are not on display or in use. To prevent matted fur, try using more than one box to put the stuffed animals in. They should spring back to life and be ready for play or decoration when the time is right again!

  • Yesterday’s friends: Why seniors love stuffed animals

    The very idea of a stuffed animal connotes something that is soft, cuddly and comforting. For the very young, these animals provide a level of security that can only be matched by a loving human counterpart. But what about senior citizens and those in elder care who may have lost the people in their lives who provided that same level of comfort and security? Can stuffed animals fill the void that a loving human once occupied?

    We know a lot about the healing and comforting powers of stuffed animals. Which is why millions of people across the world buy them for, give them as gifts, or donate them, to the elderly and to those who can truly benefit from them.

    More and more senior citizens are entering senior living facilities and nursing homes throughout the country. Many of them have lost spouses or loved ones. Some of them have no family to speak of, while others do not have routine family and friend visitors. Life can be lonely and challenging. When the elderly begin to feel that they have lost everything they once had, it can be very difficult to lift spirits.

    That’s why stuffed animals for seniors are so important. These plush creatures are fully capable of putting smiles back on seniors’ faces, providing comfort, and allowing for endless hugging and nurturing. Stuffed animals remind the elderly of their own youth, or their children and grandchildren. Both elderly men and women can remember a time when they were younger and had a few stuffed animals or dolls that provided hours of entertainment. They remember buying or making them for their own children and watching them learn and grow with their own stuffies and dolls.

    If you’ve ever been inside a nursing home you’ve probably heard the wailing of a elderly person who is not necessarily void of attention – they get medical attention and routine care - but often lack the physical presence of someone or something comforting. For those who live in skilled nursing facilities or require personal assistance, often times a stuffed animal becomes a source of entertainment or serve as something familiar within the room or at bedside. A stuffed animal or doll with a cuddly face and body can truly give people a feeling of comfort. Just one squeeze of a stuffy and all your troubles seem to melt away.

    For those who may have a hoard of gently used stuffed animals that they would like to unload, consider donating them to a senior living facility or nursing home. There are surely plenty of senior residents who would love to snuggle with them, talk to them, comfort and be comforted by them. Giving a second life to a stuffed animal while brightening the day of an elderly person is truly a remarkable gift.

  • Behind the scenes of stuffed animal play

    You see it every day…a child playing make-believe with their stuffed animals. These animals become accessories to the imaginations of children. From dolls and animals in dress up attire to plush animals acting out scenes like those in fantasy or science fiction. Depending on the age of the child, these stuffed animals might be involved in elaborate plot lines or just sitting down for light conversation at high tea. What this means for the child is companionship, development and the ability to feel in control. To the stuffed animal, it means having a purpose!

     

    Elephant stuffed animalThis kind of play is known as dramatic play and it refers to the made up games that children enjoy. When adults witness it, they see a child acting cute while playing with stuffed animals and other non-living friends. But to a child involved in dramatic playing, the world that is created fosters their abilities to learn and develop. This is an imaginary world that supports intellectual growth and builds social and verbal skills.

     

    It may seem like just fun and games in a make-believe environment, but dramatic play with stuffed animals is rooted in psychology.

     

    During this type of play, children are acting out scenes from their own day-to-day lives, albeit, they are not entirely cognizant of that. They may be acting out, or reliving the things they've witnessed or participated in with their stuffed animals. That’s why some toddlers and young children carry their dolls and stuffed animals around like babies and why they mimic the coos that parents often do if there is a younger sibling at home.

     

    Sea animal stuffed animalSometimes young ones will scold a stuffed animal or doll as if it were a living thing if the child remembers being scolded or told “no” about something. The latter type of mimicking behavior should not be alarming unless accompanied by other negative behaviors or if it is the only type of dramatic play the child tends to participate in.

     

    Otherwise, watching a child act out real life scenes with a stuffed animal can be a great way to see how they are developing and how their minds are expanding. It is the first step towards gaining more in-depth play and learning how to form thoughts and relationships.

     

    So, the next time you see a little one sitting down for tea with a stuffed animal or solving a crime with a beloved plush friend, take a moment to listen in; you’ll discover that there is a lot more going on!

  • What makes a unique stuffed animal collection?

    Chances are if you child has one stuffed animal, he or she has plenty more. Lots of times, this collection of animals can grow out of control, hanging on to every stuffed animal they’ve acquired over the years.

    Some collections are clearly better than others. And if you child wants to collect every stuffed animal he or she can get her hands on, maybe they need learn that quality is better than quantity, and having 25 monkey stuffed animals might not make your collection stand out too much.

    Stuffed Animal Teddy BearHere are some ways to have your child’s stuffed animal collection unique.

    More isn’t necessarily better – The only thing unique about having a stuffed animal collection of over 100 is the size. What do you do with all of them? How many are the same stuffed animal, or at least the same animal? Having a variety of stuffed animals will make your collection stand out more. Try and get rid of animals you have duplicates of or ones that are the same animal.

    Movie and TV Characters – In every collection, it’s always a good idea to have a stuffed animal of your child’s favorite Disney movie character or TV character. Adding a Simba or Sponge Bob Square Pants to the collection will show a pop culture side to your child and even how they become a fan of a movie or character at an early age. Plus, some of these stuffed animals can turn into collectables or even valuables as time goes on.

    Stuffed animal kittyShow your variety – They don’t have to be just all stuffed animals. Beanie Babies, Care Bears and other unique designed or different style of stuffed animals, like The Zoo Factory’s personal stuffed animals, will certainly add a creative wrinkle that even parents can appreciate. This goes along with animals too. Unless you’re dealing with just valuable Steiff Bears, show your variety by having, lions, snakes, horses, movie characters and even the stuffable animals you create to make your collection stand out more than having 25 stuffed animal dogs.

    These are three ways to help improve or make your collection more unique.

  • Teddy Bear toss brings smile, fans

    There are plenty of stuffed animal drives throughout the country, but there not be a better one than this. The Calgary Hitman of the Western Hockey League, sponsors an annual act that's been part of their history for the past 18 seasons. It's called the Teddy Bear Toss.

    Back in December, hosting the Kootenay Ice, the Hitmen's first goal would yield a shower of teddy bears like it did every year. But every year it always seems to come as a surprise to the players.

    Whale Stuffed AnimalWhen the first goal of the game was scored by Hitmen winger Pavlo Padakin, the crowd went nuts, throwing a total of 21,453 stuffed bears onto the ice. Rather than just shrills and cheers, the fans started rifling their plush friends that encased the players in rainbows of soft colors.

    Padakin didn't expect the experience, which was his first, to be so overwhelming. As quoted in the Calgary Herald, Padakin said "I didn't think it was like this.....not emotional."

    With 16,912 fans in attendance and over 21,000 stuffed bears coloring the ice, you can only imagine the excitement from all who were there to see. Hitmen player Greg Chase reflected on the atmosphere by stating, "The nerves are flying at the start of the game — everyone wants to score that goal. We wanted to score in front of our fans and let those teddy bears come down." (Calgary Herald).

    Aside from the thrill of tossing a teddy onto the ice, imagine how the recipients felt? The Teddy Bear Toss has been a charity mission to bring smiles to those staying at the Alberta Children's Hospital. Since the tradition began 18 years ago, the Hitmen team has donated an astounding 213,000 bears.

    You'll find there to be quite a few stuffed animal drives across the country, but this one is certainly unique. For minor league teams, this idea is great for drawing and building a community of fans. But furthermore, it's not only a great marketing tool, it benefits children too. If your organization wants to sponsor an event to brighten someone else's day, browse through our many collections of cuddly stuffed animals today.

     

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