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4 Ways to Sleep Better

You’re lying in your bed, staring at the ceiling. The time is 2am. You’re tired, but no matter what you do, you simply can’t fall asleep. You toss and turn for another few hours, somehow getting a few moments of rest here or there, before your alarm finally tells you it’s time to get up and start the day.

If this sounds familiar, then you’re certainly not alone. Plenty of Americans struggle with getting a proper night’s sleep, and in most cases, it’s because they’re not practicing the right bedtime techniques. So if you find yourself tossing and turning each night, then read over these tips for getting a better night’s rest.

Set a sleep schedule and stick to it

The key to a better night’s sleep is consistency. As much as you may enjoy sleeping in on the weekends, it can ruin your body’s internal clock. So pick a time to go to bed and wake up, and then stick to it each day.

Give yourself time to wind down

One of the reasons why you’re not falling asleep is because you’re not giving your body and mind enough time to wind down. You won’t be falling asleep if you’re still stressed about things that happened earlier in the day. Even watching TV or reading on our smartphones can have an adverse effect on our sleep. So shut off the TV, put away your smartphone, and instead curl up with a book roughly an hour before bedtime.

Use light effectively

Light impacts our circadian rhythm, so use it to your advantage. Avoid it in the evenings to tell your body it’s time to sleep, while expose yourself to it in the morning as a sign that it’s time to wake up.

Sleep with a comfort object

In order to sleep, you need to be relaxed. A good way of doing this is having a comfort object to sleep with. This could be a blanket (weighted ones are especially good for our sleep), a special pillow, or a stuffed animal.  Whatever your comfort object, it can provide a sense of security and ease that will allow you to sleep undisturbed throughout the night.

At The Zoo Factory, we believe every person could benefit from sleeping with a beloved stuffed animal. Need one for yourself? Then check out all of our cuddly stuffable animals that are sure to help you get a better night’s rest.

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Why It’s OK to Have a Stuffed Animal as an Adult

Woman with Teddy Bear

Stuffed animals are often thought of as children’s toys that you discard once you’re older. When an adult does admit to having one, they’re often shamed for it, but it’s not something to be ashamed of—far from it. As it turns out, stuffed animals can actually help adults live healthier and happier lives.

Stuffed animals ease anxiety

Adulthood can be hectic, especially if you’re in your 20’s and just getting on your feet. It involves a lot of anxiety as you’re trying out new jobs and new places. Stuffed animals, however, due to our nostalgic and sentimental attachment to them, can bring a sense of security, easing all those pent-up, negative emotions and even helping us behave better.

They give us company

I think we can all agree that a stuffed animal is more than just a toy. Just like our pets or friends, we get attached to them, no matter our age. They provide us comfort when we need it most, and friendship when it’s in short supply. In adulthood this can be especially the case, but our old teddy can help with that, giving us company and something to care for.

Lots of adults still sleep with a stuffed animal

We pretend like keeping our stuffed animals into adulthood is strange, but it’s actually much more common than we realize. According to a 2017 study, 40% of adults in America still sleep with a stuffed animal at their side every night. So if you’re one of them, then you’re in good company.

At The Zoo Factory, we believe that you’re never too old for stuffed animals. Take a look at our stuffable animals to bring a new friend into your home today.

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How Teddy Bears Make Adults Behave Better

stuffed bear on yellow couch

Yes, you read that sentence right. People are well aware of the benefits teddy bears bring to kids, but did you know they can also help adults? They can relieve stress, treat Alzheimer’s, and now, thanks to a Harvard research team, they can even make us behave better simply by being in the same room.

How They Did It

Harvard researchers Sreedhari Desai and Francesca Gino separated a group of people into two halves—one half was in a room with children’s toys (like crayons and teddy bears), the other was not. Each group was then asked to play games where subjects could influence how much money they and other people had by whether they lied or not. Researchers found that subjects in the room with crayons and teddy bears were less likely to lie and cheat, and were overall more generous, than the subjects in the other room.

Teddy Bears and Childlike Innocence

So, what’s the connection? Researchers believed it was related to purity. According to Desai, “Child-related cues might unconsciously activate notions of goodness and drive us to get to a pure state and not want to pollute it.” And it makes sense. Most people are on their best behavior around children, trying to set a good example. Having a teddy bear by our side may not be the exact same as having a child by our side, but our brain connects the two, and as a result, we behave better.

So, if you, or someone you know, could benefit from having a teddy bear in the room, check out our inventory or contact us for more information.

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The Evolution of Stuffed Animals

vintage teddy bear

At the Zoo Factory, it’s no surprise that we love stuffed animals. We think they’re great for people of all ages as a safe, healthy, and fun toy that everyone can enjoy. And clearly, we’re not alone: stuffed animals have been loved by people for centuries.

Let’s take a trip in time to see where stuffed animals came from, and how people came to love them in the first place.

The Early Stuffed Animal The Evolution of Stuffed Animals

Did you know that civilizations around the world have been making some form of a stuffed animal since the beginning of recorded history? Actually, it was the Romans in as early as 300 BC who are first credited with creating the rag doll, which were made with fabric scraps and filled with straw. These were mostly enjoyed by poorer children, who were unable to afford the pricier toys of the day.

The Modern Stuffed Animal

There are really two instances where the stuffed animals that we know came about. The first is the stuffed elephant created by Margarete Steiff in 1880, who first produced the toy based on a pattern she read in a magazine. She eventually started manufacturing thousands of these elephants, and Steiff’s company became one of the most popular in the world.

The other is the most famous: the world-famous “Teddy Bear.” In 1902, toymaker Morris Michtom saw a cartoon in the Washington Post about how President “Teddy” Roosevelt had spared the life of a bear cub when out hunting one day. The story inspired him to make a toy replica of the bear cub, and he ended up calling it a “teddy bear.” Of course, Michtom’s toy shot to international fame, and Ideal Toy Company, Michtom’s company, soon was the biggest toy manufacturer in the country.

Of course, stuffed animals have gone on to take a number of different forms, and appear in popular culture all over the world. But that history lends itself to their original creativity, and beloved comfort.

At the Zoo Factory, we pride ourselves on continuing that history with the best selection of stuffed animals out there. If you have any questions about our selection, contact us today!

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Ways to Relieve Stress on National Stress Awareness Day

girl resting under a tree with a teddy bear

We all know that life can be stressful. Balancing work or school, friends, family, and everything else is a daily chore; one which can sometimes feel overwhelming. But the key is learning to not let that stress control you. And that’s what National Stress Awareness Day, on April 16th, is all about: finding strategies to reduce that stress, and live a happier life.

Here are a few healthy habits to practice and ideas to reduce stress on National Stress Awareness Day.

Relieving Stress on National Stress Awareness Day

Keep a Journal

There are a number of benefits to keeping a daily journal of some sort—it’s great for time management, and helpful in strengthening your memory and your focus. But one benefit that often goes without mention is an alleviation of stress.  And it’s fun to keep a record of your experiences and memories, too!

Meditate

Meditation can come in many different forms, like yoga, sitting in silence, or leaving your phone in the other room while you concentrate. Whatever form it takes for you, a healthy meditation diet can do wonders to your stress levels. It lets you cleanse your mind of the day’s on-goings, and really focus on what’s in front of you.

Keep a Garden

This one is to all the folks who have any green space—be it a backyard, or park—close to them: get out there and garden! Planting flowers and taking care of a garden is one of the most proven strategies to reducing stress. Not only that, but it’s also great exercise. If you don’t have a backyard to plant in, get involved in your local community’s volunteer efforts.

Get a Stuffed Animal

To everyone here at The Zoo Factory, this one goes without saying. Having a stuffed animal by your side is a time-tested method of reducing stress, starting as early as childhood. Something about your favorite farm or jungle animal as a toy is just so comforting, and it’s no surprise that people of all ages love their stuffed animals.

At The Zoo Factory, we offer a wide selection of high-quality stuffed animals in all shapes and sizes for adults, and customized models and stuff-your-own-animal party packages for kids as well. So contact us today!

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Stuffed Farm Animals the Perfect Easter Basket Stuffers

Toddler with Stuffed Bunny

While the traditional Easter candy and other edible treats make great basket stuffers, a stuffed animal will become a lifelong friend to your children beyond the celebration of a once-a-year holiday.

That’s why we want to encourage you to incorporate some stuffed farm animals into your child’s Easter basket this holiday!

Froggy Favorites Basket Stuffed Farm Animals the Perfect Easter Basket Stuffers

Children that love frogs will adore a frog-themed Easter basket full of treats and gifts centric to their favorite animal. Fill colorful plastic Easter eggs with frog trinkets like shiny necklaces with frog charms, soft green socks, and dangly key chains. Tie the basket together with this adorable plush frog that will have your child hopping around with excitement on Easter morning!

Rainy Day Basket

Spring ushers in rainy days, perfect for splashing around in puddles! Create a rainy day Easter basket full of fun activities perfect for a rainy day, such as arts and crafts, treasured movies, new rain boots, and an umbrella with a silly pattern. Your child will love celebrating “duck weather” with this fluffy yellow duck and a new yellow rain hat.

Gardening Basket

April showers eventually bring May flowers, but you have to plant them first! Gift your little gardener with their very own gardening Easter basket, complete with packets of seeds, shovels, a bright watering can, and some fun gardener’s gloves. Make gardening even more fun with a garden buddy. This precious brown rabbit will easily help make gardening a new favorite pastime for your little one.

Soft and Sleepy Basket

Young kids love soft things to help lull them to sleep, so filling an Easter basket with only the softest treasures is sure to please! Pack a basket with soft, fleece blankets and small fluffy slippers. Throw in some fun soft pajamas, a new bedtime book, and the perfect snuggle buddy lamb for the ultimate bedtime basket!

Get a head start on your Easter shopping and head over to The Zoo Factory and select your child’s new best friend. Shipping is on sale for orders over $50 now through March 31st!

 

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Teddy Bears Bring Tears this Holiday Season

If you spend any amount of time on social media throughout the past week, you probably saw a lot of heart-warming stories.

One of our favorite “feel good” stories this holiday season involved, you guessed it: a teddy bear.

One story that took the world by storm last week was the story of Mariana and Sarahy Ramos, two little girls that received a teddy bear that brought them to tears minutes after pulling them out of their packaging. Their older sister recorded a video of them receiving the gift and shared it on Twitter, and the post went viral within minutes.  The video now has over 100,000 likes and 69,000 shares.

The Ramos girls lost their grandfather, Florencio Jimenez, last year under tragic. The girls Aunt Andrea purchased the two teddy bears for the girls as their Christmas gifts this year.

Both teddy bears contained an audio message that their aunt had pulled from a video recording of the girls grandfather before he passed.

The audio message inside of the bear was an inside joke that the girls had with their grandfather, following the sound of his laugh.

Their aunt wanted to give them something to remember their grandfather by and a cuddly teddy bear playing the the sound of his voice did the job.

When the young girls opened the gift on Christmas morning, they were immediately brought to tears Warning, you will be too after watching this clip.

The Zoo Factory also offers this feature, where you can record your own message to put inside of your bear of choice with a small recording device.

This is a perfect gift for a loved one for a birthday, a holiday, an anniversary, or just because.

Whether you are a young child saying “I love you” to your grandmother, or a grandmother saying “I love you” to a young child, it will be a priceless keepsake to your loved one.

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How One Teddy Bear’s Message Made This Grandmother Smile [Video]

When it comes to gifts, there is nothing that you want more than for the one you purchase to bring your loved one joy. And that is exactly what this teddy bear did for Mrs. Walters, a woman who lost her husband to lung cancer 11 years ago.

During their marriage, Walters’ husband had gifted her an adorable teddy bear with a sweet message recorded inside; “You’re the best girl in the world for me.”

Eventually the sound recording broke, which is when her granddaughter began searching for a company that could have it repaired.

Mrs. Walters now suffers from dementia, so her family wasn’t sure how much of a reaction the teddy bear would receive, even when its sound box was fixed. No one could have expected a reaction as joyful as this one when Walters heard her late husband’s voice again for the first time in years.

While our stuffed animals are typically purchased as gifts and party favors for children, a stuffed animal can make an incredible gift for anyone you love, especially when they are purchased with one of our customizable sound boxes.

These ten-second sound recording provide just enough time to tell someone how much you care, or to give them some sweet words of encouragement.

Whether you are looking for the perfect way to tell your partner, “I love you” or want to say, “I miss you” to your grandchildren living far away, a stuffed animal with your voice inside is a wonderful surprise that will be cherished for many years to come.

Shop online with The Zoo Factory to find a cuddly stuffed animal for your love one, and don’t forget to include a recordable sound box with your order for you to record when it arrives!

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Purchasing New Stuffing To Bring Your Child’s Animal Back To Life

Purchasing New Stuffing To Bring Your Child's Animal Back To Life

 

Stuffed animals are so adorably soft, plush and serve as the perfect source for comfort and cuddling. Overtime after all of the hugs and snuggles, your little one’s stuffed animal could have seen better days.

It is not uncommon for stuffed animals to have lost their fluffiness and your little one may begin to notice the changes and become upset. After all, stuffed animals are a sense of security for little children and even the slightest of changes can become a catastrophe.

Some parents might think it is time to make a new friend by purchasing a new stuffed animal when they notice the other one has gotten too flat. This is not really necessary, especially if the child has an emotional attachment to it.

By re-stuffing, the animal can once again have its fluffy appearance. Most store bought stuffed animals are sewn together when you purchase them. This entails you having to make a cut along the seam and opening the stuffed animal. Once the new stuffing has been put in, you just have to sew it back up. With this option, you run the risk of not closing the fur tightly enough, which could result in a tear and spillage of stuffing.

A simple solution to this problem is by purchasing a stuff-able bear that you and your child can stuff for the first time together. These stuffed animals are closed by zipper or Velcro, which makes it much easier to re-apply stuffing in the future.

Our stuff-able adorable animal friends can be re-stuffed and we have our available stuffing listed on our website. You can purchase additional stuffing by choosing the size of the animal. The sizing options are for 8 inch and 16 inch. If you want to bring back to life your child’s stuffed animal, you can do so with The Zoo Factory today.

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Re-Stuffing a Limp Stuffed Animal

stuffing

Stuffed animals become family members very quickly. For children they are companions, teachers, babies, and devoted friends. And for adults they are reminders of another time, perhaps another place, and even a first close relationship. Beloved stuffed animals get worn easily, but are sometimes loved even more in their decay.

 

When stuffed animals lose their stuffing through play and a lot of holding, they may begin to not look like themselves. But repairing this problem is simple as well as being a loving gesture.

 

The first thing to do is go to a fabric or craft store and get polyester fiberfill stuffing. Polyester fiberfill is the best thing for re-stuffing as it is both hand and machine washable. You can even put it in the dryer with the worry of it bunching up and distorting the shape of the animal.  It is also easy to work with.

 

The next step is to locate the spot where the stuffing was first put into the animal. Look closely at all the seams on the toy, especially hidden ones, like down the back, between the legs, under the arms. Search carefully. You will find the spot somewhere on a seam where it gets a bit bumpy or it appears that some of the fur is tucked under there. It shouldn’t be too difficult to locate.

 

Use a good seam ripper and start undoing the threads. Work very gently and carefully so as not to disturb worn patches on the stuffed animal and make them worse. Worn patches may show signs of being well loved, but they are very fragile and need to be worked around with care. Never cut the seam with a scissors.

 

Once you have found the hole and opened it wide enough for your fingers to get in, pick a gumball-sized piece of fiberfill and put it into the empty spaces. With each piece of stuffing, take the time to rub and pat it into place. With newer stuffed animals you might be able to use a stuffing tool like a chopstick, but never use one with old and very worn toys as you might put a hole in the skin. So you stuff and pat, stuff and pat. Be sure to rub out any lumps and bumps.

 

Stuff the toy until you are satisfied with its firmness or softness. Now you are ready to re stitch the seam. Using a simple ladder stitch, and sewing with extra strong thread, close up the hole. Take care to not leave any threads hanging out when you finish up. Make sure they are well tucked.

 

You have your family member back and restored. It can be hugged and played with, sit at a tea party, or be a bed companion. A beloved friend is back in action!
 
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