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How to Choose a Toddler Bed

toddler sleeping in bed with stuffed animal

If your child is finally outgrowing their crib, then it’s time to start looking at toddler beds. However, the transition from a crib to a toddler bed is not always easy. Children may be reluctant, or they may not like their new bed. But by narrowing down your choices and choosing the right toddle bed for your child, you can make the transition easier. Here’s how to get started:

Safety Features

When it comes to our kids, safety is always at the top of our minds. A toddler bed should keep your child safe and sound as they sleep. As such, any toddler bed you choose should have guardrails that resemble a crib, rather than solid plane guardrails. This will prevent pillows and bedding from getting trapped. Additionally, a toddler bed should sit low to the ground to allow easy exit and entry. Some toddler beds, known as Montessori-style beds, have the mattress at floor level to make it as easy as possible for your child.


To better help your child transition from a crib to a toddler bed, it’s best to get a bed that most closely resembles a crib. This means getting the right guardrails (see above) and keeping the general look and feel similar to the crib your child has been using. However, if your child gets excited about a different style of bed, then don’t be afraid to try something new.

Making the transition

Some toddlers have a hard time transitioning from a crib to a big-kid bed. After all, their crib gives them a sense of security. Having the new bed appear and feel similar to your child’s old crib as we mentioned above can help. You can also give your child the extra comfort that a security blanket or stuffed animal can provide. Finally, be sure to keep your child’s bedtime consistent so it’s easier for them to fall and stay asleep.

The comfort of a stuffed animal can help your child sleep better even after they’re used to their new big-kid bed. Here at The Zoo Factory, we have plenty of stuffable animals that your child will love. Look through our website today to get started!

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What to Do When Your Child Has a Cold

young girl sick in bed with cold

Cold season is upon us, and that means lots of late nights dealing with coughs and stuffy noses. As a parent, we never want to see our child sick. Yet, getting a cold is almost inevitable for children. Colds, thankfully, aren’t dangerous, but there are ways you can help your child get over their colds faster.

Keep them comfortable

A scratchy throat, constant coughing, a stuffy nose…these are all the tell-tale signs of a cold. They are also extremely uncomfortable to deal with. While you can’t get rid of these symptoms immediately, you can try to keep your child as comfortable as possible in the process. Keep them in bed or on a couch, give them plenty of blankets and pillows, and put on their favorite TV show. Keeping their favorite toy or stuffed animal by their side can also be a helpful support system.

Provide OTC relief

Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs can help ease your child’s symptoms. But be careful which ones you use. OTC cough and cold medicines can only be used by children older than six years of age. Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen can also be used, but only for children over six months old. Medicated nose drops and sprays can also be helpful, but keep in mind they can only be used for two to three days, and should never be used by children under six years old.

Keep them fed and hydrated

This one seems obvious, but you may have trouble getting your child to eat or drink when they feel awful. Try your best by getting snacks or drinks you know they’ll enjoy. If you’re having a lot of trouble, try and get your child to eat even a little chicken noodle soup. This classic dish is perfect for colds because it provides both nutrients and hydration.

Here at The Zoo Factory, we hope everyone stays healthy in the months to come. For more child care tips, read through our blog today!

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How to Help Your Child Overcome Their Fear of Shots

child receiving vaccine from doctor with family beside her

As of this blog post, the FDA is on the brink of approving the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. And for the past several months, children over the age of 12 years old have been receiving the vaccine. We all understand the importance of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, as well as other vaccines, in order to safeguard our public health. Nevertheless, if you have a child with a fear of shots, getting them to sit down for a vaccine can be easier said than done.

But don’t give up just yet. By taking the right steps, you can help your child ease their fear of shots and get vaccinated like everyone else!

Educate them about vaccines

The less people know about something, the more they fear it. Kids are no different. If you educate your children about how vaccines work, they’ll be less frightened once the time comes to get one. Keep your explanation simple and emphasize that vaccines are here to protect us, not harm us.

Practice beforehand

Another way to lessen your child’s anxiety is to practice getting a shot beforehand. Purchase a toy medical kit and have one person play the doctor and the other play the patient. You can even use one of your child’s stuffed animals to play the role of the patient.

Be an example

Our children model their behavior off of ours. Even if you’re a little nervous about shots, try to exhibit a sense of calm when it’s time for your child’s appointment. You can also try bringing your child with you when it’s time for you to get a shot yourself. While many adults have already received the COVID-19 vaccine, now is the best time to get your flu shot!

Bring a comfort item

When the big day comes, it’s normal for your child to get a little nervous. To help manage their anxiety, consider having them bring a comfort item with them. This could be their favorite blankie, toy, stuffed animal, etc.

The Zoo Factory has plenty of lovable, stuffed animals that can help ease your child’s anxieties. Look through our website to find their next best friend today!

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How to Parent a Highly Sensitive Child

child playing with toys in living room

Every child is different, even if they come from the same parents. One child may have no problem with loud noises or large crowds, while the other can’t stand it. If your child is in the latter category, they could be highly sensitive. But what does this mean? Read on to learn more.

What is a highly sensitive child?

Psychiatrist Elaine Aron was the first person to coin the term HSP, or highly sensitive person. But what exactly does that mean? An adult or child who is considered an HSP has a highly reactive nervous system. In other words, they’re more sensitive to physical, emotional, and social stimuli, and thus quick to react.

How does this affect their day-to-day life?

For most of us, our brains filter out certain information, but HSPs take in everything. As a result, they are very perceptive. This can be a major advantage, but it can also work against them. When there is too much stimuli—such as in large crowds—an HSP can become overstimulated and overwhelmed. Adults can have the self-knowledge to handle overstimulation accordingly. But children do not. As a result, highly sensitive children may have emotional outbursts or shutdown all together.

Parenting a highly sensitive child

Parenting a highly sensitive child may require different techniques. Here’s what you can do:

  • See it as an advantage: Being highly sensitive should not be considered a negative personality trait. Your child is not “too sensitive,” they just see the world different. Plus, a HSP has qualities that others don’t, such as having a greater level of emotional awareness, empathy, innovativeness, attention to detail, and more.
  • Understand their triggers: Your child will be more sensitive to external stimuli. Understanding what triggers them can help you avoid or manage these situations.
  • Be accommodating: Some parents try to expose their child to their triggers to force them to “get over” it. However, this actually worsens the problem. High sensitivity is an inborn trait, so it’s better to cope with it than try to “fix” it. For instance, you can give them a pair of headphones to block out loud noises, or a stuffed animal to keep them calm.

A stuffable animal from The Zoo Factory can help keep your highly sensitive child calm in tough situations. Look through our website today to get started!

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How to Prepare Your New Babysitter

babysitter helping child color a drawing

After spending weeks looking for the right babysitter, you’ve finally found the perfect person for the job. However, finding a babysitter is just half the battle. You also need to prepare them for the tasks ahead if you want to set them up for success. Even the most experienced babysitter knows that no two families are alike. As such, you should take steps ahead of your babysitter’s first day with the kids to help everyone prepare.

Create an emergency contact list

Your babysitter will know to call 911 if a true emergency occurs. However, they should also have a list of family members, friends, or neighbors to call if something happens and they can’t reach you. Have at least three names and numbers on your list other than your own. You should also create rules as to when your babysitter should use these numbers. You may want them to call only if a true emergency occurs, or you may want them to call if they have questions or if one of the kids had a minor accident.

Make a schedule

Kids depend on routines, but your babysitter won’t know what your daily routines are. You don’t need to map out every single detail. Nevertheless, you should at least mention the most important parts of the day: when they eat, when they go to bed, etc.

Prepare meals or have a list of allowed foods

In most cases, a babysitter will be working around dinnertime, so they’ll need to know what to feed your kids while you’re gone. This is especially important if your child has food allergies or is a picky eater. You can prepare meals ahead of time, or you can create a list of allowed foods that your babysitter can either have delivered or make themselves.

Introduce your child to your babysitter ahead of time

Don’t wait until the first day to introduce your child to your babysitter. Even if your child isn’t particularly shy, they may have trouble dealing with a stranger at first. So, take some time out to have your babysitter get to know your child before the big day. You should also take this as an opportunity to let your babysitter in on anything they need to know about your child. This could include their food preferences, favorite toys, what they like to do for fun, etc.

Inviting a new babysitter into your home can be a challenging experience at first, but it doesn’t have to be. By creating a welcoming environment with plenty of toys and stuffed animals, your child and your babysitter will become the best of friends. To get started, look through our website here at The Zoo Factory today!

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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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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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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!

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5 Tips to Get Your Kids to Eat Healthy

5 Tips to Get Your Kids to Eat Healthy

Let’s face it, our kids don’t eat as healthy as they should. Instead of eating salad or broccoli, they’d rather have a plate full of chicken nuggets or macaroni. While these things are fine to eat every now and then, our children need a well-balanced diet in order to grow into healthy, fully functional adults. If you’re struggling to get your kids to eat healthy, here are some tips that may help:

Provide choices

Kids don’t like to be told what to do. If you tell them they have to eat that plate of broccoli no matter what, you’ll be in for a world of disappointment. Instead, offer them choices. Instead of having only that plate of broccoli, have them choose between broccoli, salad, or celery. This way you’re giving your kids some form of autonomy while still controlling what they put into their bodies.

Start small

Just as with any lifestyle change, it’s best to start small. Changing too much too quickly often ends in failure. If you want healthy eating to become a lifelong habit, then introduce new foods gradually and don’t eliminate sweets or junk food completely.

Include your kids while cooking

Many of our kids are suspicious of new foods, but they’re often more willing to try new foods if they had a hand in making them. Of course, you don’t want them doing anything that is too difficult for them, but even young children can handle basic tasks such as measuring or stirring ingredients.

Set an example

If you encourage your kids to eat healthy but don’t do so yourself, you will have a hard time getting them to commit. Set an example by making changes in your own diet as well as your children’s.

Have goals in mind

Does your child eat too much chocolate or drink too much soda? Then set goals to try and cut back on those unhealthy habits. Once again, start gradually by cutting out unhealthy foods a little bit at a time. If your child drinks too much soda, for instance, try cutting back on one can of soda each day first. After your child has done this for a few weeks, reward them, and then move the goal post to two sodas.

Here at The Zoo Factory, we want all our kids to live happy and healthy lives. To learn more, look through our blog today!