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Budget-Friendly Fall Fashion: Styling Your Kids Without Breaking the Bank

Little boy and girl friends have fun on fresh air. Children pick acorns from oak trees. Brother and sister camping in autumn forest. Childhood and child friendship. Kids activity and active rest.

The rustling leaves, the crisp morning air, and the pumpkin-spiced delights — September signals the onset of the fall season. With the change in weather comes the change in wardrobe. For parents, updating their kids’ clothing to be both stylish and season-appropriate might seem like a daunting task, especially while maintaining a budget. Here’s a guide to dressing your little ones in trendy yet budget-friendly fall fashion.

Layering is Key

One of the easiest ways to transition summer clothing to fall is layering. A summer t-shirt can be paired with a cardigan or a lightweight jacket. This not only adds warmth but also introduces new style dynamics, offering versatility without the need for entirely new outfits.

Thrift and Consignment Stores

These treasure troves often carry unique and high-quality items at a fraction of retail prices. It’s a sustainable option and gives kids a chance to have distinctive pieces in their wardrobe. Remember to wash thrifted items thoroughly before use.

Swap or Host Exchange Events

Gather a group of parents and organize a clothing exchange. Kids outgrow their clothes quickly, and what doesn’t fit one child might be perfect for another. This way, everyone gets new-to-them items without spending a dime.

DIY and Upcycle

Got a pair of jeans that’s too short? Turn them into trendy capris or patch them up with fun fabrics. A little creativity can breathe new life into worn-out or ill-fitting items.

Take Advantage of Sales

End-of-summer sales are great for snagging fall-appropriate clothes at discounted prices. Items like long-sleeve shirts, light jackets, and jeans are often on sale as retailers make room for winter stock.

Dressing your kids in stylish fall fashion doesn’t have to strain your wallet. With a bit of ingenuity, some DIY spirit, and strategic shopping, your children can look autumn-ready without emptying your savings.

And as they strut their fall fashion, why not accessorize with a plush companion? A stuffed animal from The Zoo Factory can be a comforting and fashionable addition to your child’s fall adventures. Check out our extensive range of adorable stuffed friends and let your child choose their favorite today!

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Back to School: Effective Ways to Establish a New Routine

back to school - blackboard with pencil-box and school equipment on table

September is here, and with it comes the nostalgic scent of sharpened pencils, the rustling of fresh notebook pages, and the excitement of new beginnings. For parents and children alike, transitioning from the leisure of summer to the structured regimen of school can be both thrilling and daunting. Here are some strategies to smoothen the back-to-school transition and effectively establish a new routine.

Prioritize Sleep

Summertime often means relaxed bedtime rules. But as September rolls in, it’s crucial to readjust. A consistent sleep schedule ensures your child is alert and ready for learning. Gradually shift bedtime earlier each night until you reach the desired school-time bedtime.

Create a Study Space

Whether it’s a dedicated desk or a quiet corner in the living room, a specific study space helps children transition into school mode. This area should be free from distractions, well-lit, and stocked with all necessary supplies.

Meal Prep

Mornings can be hectic. Prepare lunches and snacks the night before. Engage your child in the process, allowing them to pick healthy snacks and help with packing, fostering independence and ensuring they’re excited about their meals.

Implement a Calendar System

Visual aids can be beneficial. Whether it’s a traditional wall calendar or a digital app, a system that tracks assignments, extracurriculars, and other commitments can help the whole family stay organized.

Introduce Relaxation Techniques

Returning to school can be stressful. Teach your child relaxation strategies like deep breathing or short meditation breaks. It’s an invaluable skill that can help manage stress and improve concentration.

Remember, transitions are all about patience and practice. As the days turn shorter and the nights cooler, the rhythms of autumn will soon feel natural. Embrace this season of learning and growth, and cherish the new memories you’ll create with your child.

Looking for a way to comfort your child during this transitional phase? A soft companion from The Zoo Factory can make all the difference. Our stuffed animals are perfect cuddle buddies, providing solace during challenging homework nights or simply being there after a long school day. Browse our collection today and let your child find their perfect back-to-school friend.

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How to Encourage Mental Resiliency in Your Kids

family holding hands in front of sunset

As parents and caregivers, we know at some point, our children will have to deal with adversity. One way to do that is to encourage mental resiliency in our kids. But how do you go about doing that? Here are some tips to help:

Role model

Children model their behavior after us. If we show mental resiliency in the face of our own difficulties, our children will start to mimic that behavior. Additionally, talk with your children about your personal goals and challenges, and how you’ve overcome challenges in the past.

Help then control their emotions

Resilient people often have good control over their emotions. This does not mean that they do not feel their emotions, but rather they don’t let their emotions overwhelm them. Mindfulness is a great technique to help your children control their emotions. Mindfulness practices teach you how to be aware of your emotions, but not let them overcome you.

Build up their self-confidence

Children who are more confident in themselves can be more resilient. They’ll know that a few setbacks do not reflect their overall ability. Work with your kids to build up their self-esteem, independence, and self-confidence. A big part of this is encouraging healthy self-talk. Help your kids reframe their negative thoughts into more realistic ones so that they are not bombarding themselves with put-downs or catastrophic thinking.

For more tips on how to care for your kids, read through our blog posts today!

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Parenting Tips for Helping Your Child Through Their Preteen Years

preteen girl holding school books

Parenting is difficult no matter what age your child is. However, the preteen years pose unique challenges. During these years, children enter puberty and start to experience the emotional and physical changes associated with it.

To help, we’ve gathered some helpful parenting tips to guide your child through their preteen years.

Educate your kids about puberty

Puberty can seem scary to children, but it doesn’t have to be. The more your children learn about puberty, the better able they will be to handle what’s coming. Chances are they will learn some things in their Health class at school, but it’s always good to talk with your child yourself to see if they have any other questions.

Allow your child some independence

Their preteen years is often when kids start looking to be more independent. While this can be hard for parents, it’s best to allow your children extra independence as they get older. This may also include letting your child explore new interests and hobbies. Be supportive and try not to control what hobbies they participate in.

Help your preteen learn new skills

As your children gain more independence, they should also gain more responsibilities. Your preteens should start helping out around the house, and to do this, they’ll need to learn new skills such as doing laundry, cleaning, and more.

While your child will certainly change as they go through their preteen years, some things will stay the same. That includes the love they have for stuffed animals. To find the perfect stuffed animal for your preteen, look through our website today!

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Tips for Organizing Your Baby’s Belongings

Children's knitted clothes on hanger. Denim jacket, jumper, hat, shoes. Children's room, nursery

When you first bring your baby home, life will be more than a little chaotic. But as things start settling down, you can begin to bring some organization to your baby’s belongings. Organizing your baby’s items will not only keep things neat and tidy, but it will also help you quickly find the items you need when time is of the essence.

Keep bottles in a dry, well-ventilated area

Baby bottles should always be properly washed and stored, as they can easily attract mold or bad smells. The best to prevent this is to keep them in a dry, well-ventilated area such as a lazy susan or a bin on the counter. If you use the bottles frequently enough, you could also simply keep them on the drying rack until their next use.

Have a baby wardrobe

For your baby’s clothes, a wardrobe is a necessity. Use dividers inside each drawer to ensure things don’t get too messy. To save space, you can also hang some clothes in the closet, especially for items you use frequently. This will prevent you from having to dig through the wardrobe just to find a particular item.

Keep toys in a bin

Don’t leave your baby’s toys just lying around. You could step on them and break them. Instead, keep their toys, stuffed animals, and other knick-knacks in a bin in their room. Anytime you take a toy or stuffed animal out, remember to put it back in the bin again.

As you’re organizing your baby’s belongings, you may find you need more toys and stuffed animals for them to play with as they get older! Here at The Zoo Factory, we have plenty of options. Look through our website to get started!

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Why Hugs Are So Importance for Kids

mother and daughter hugging one another

Do you remember what it feels like to receive a great big hug from someone you love? We’re going to guess it felt pretty great! Hugs are a wonderful way to show people we love them, but the sad truth is, we don’t nearly hug each other enough. This is especially true for our children. Hugging our kids more can foster love, connection, and other positive emotions.

Table of Contents

The Importance of Hugging Our Children

Hugs are a simple yet powerful act. It’s a sign of affection and warmth, two things that we humans thrive off of. We all know how great it is to receive a hug, and our kids are no different. Regularly hugging our children can bring many benefits, including the following:

  • Co-regulation: This is a scientific term for when our body “syncs up” to another’s. It’s why when a stressed child is hugged by a calm and loving adult, they also calm down.
  • Connection: Hugs provide a sense of love and connection with other people. As social animals, humans need to feel loved and connected.
  • Calm: Hugs cause a release of oxytocin in the brain. Oxytocin suppresses cortisol, the stress hormone. As such, hugging someone can boost their mood and promote a sense of calm.

How Often Should You Hug Them?

So, you know that hugging your child is important, but does that mean you should be squeezing them close every hour of every day? Not quite.

There is no magic number to how many hugs you should give your child. Instead, it depends on you, your child, and your child’s comfort level with physical affection (more on this below). Just do what feels natural.

What to Do If a Child Doesn’t Like Hugs

Not everyone enjoys physical affection, and there’s nothing wrong with that! If your child doesn’t like hugs, don’t try to force it. Instead, find other ways to show your affection, such as verbal praises or high fives.

You could also consider giving your child a stuffable animal to hug if this feels more comfortable to them. Here at The Zoo Factory, we have plenty of lovable stuffed animals for you to choose from. Look through our website to get started!

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Mindfulness for Kids: Benefits, How to Practice, and More

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 or yoga practices that use our breath or our senses to keep us in the present moment. By staying present, both adults and children are able to enjoy a wide variety of short-term and long-term benefits.

Benefits of Mindfulness

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

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.

Improves 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.

Improves Social Skills

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 Kids (And Parents) Can 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 app: Many 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 yoga: Meditation is the most common form of mindfulness, but it’s not the only form! Yoga is a great way to practice mindfulness and may be preferable for kids who struggle when sitting still. You can find various yoga practices for kids on YouTube, like this one here.
  • 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!

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How to Teach Your Kids to Be More Independent

How to Teach Your Kids to Be More Independent

All parents want their kids to be more independent. After all, independent kids can clean up after themselves, pitch in around the house, and be better prepared for adult life. However, teaching your kids to be more independent can be easier said than done. We don’t want to rush them, but we also don’t want them to stay in their comfort zone for their whole lives.

Here we discuss some methods for teaching your kids to be more independent now and into the future:


Set clear expectations

If you want your child to become more independent, they need to know what you expect out of that. When starting out, don’t aim your expectations too high. Instead, aim for something that’s just above what they’re already doing. For instance, if they already brush their hair by themselves, encourage them to dress themselves as well.

Create a routine

It’s easier for kids to learn what they’re supposed to do if there’s a routine in place. Establish a morning, after school, and evening routine so that your kids know what they need to do and when. Plus, the more times they do it, the more likely it becomes a habit. Eventually, they won’t even think about brushing their teeth or combing their hair!

Offer incentives

Everyone, no matter their age, performs better with a little incentive. With children, offering rewards after a week or month of good behavior will encourage them to stick to their new routines. Incentives can range from 30 minutes of extra screen time to a brand-new toy or stuffed animal. You can learn how to create an effective reward system by reading our blog post here.

A new stuffable animal can be just the thing to encourage your child to be more independent. To get started, look through our inventory today!

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How to Teach Your Child to Make Their Bed

young girl making her bed

Everyone loves sleeping in a carefully made bed. We adults often make our beds in the morning so we can savor going to bed at night. Not only that, but it also helps keep our rooms neat and tidy. However, our children don’t think the same way. Teaching our kids to make their beds, then, can be easier said than done. But it’s not impossible.

Walk them through it

When you first made your bed, you probably didn’t know what you were doing. The same is true for our own kids. They won’t know how to make their beds at first, or how to make it easy to make their beds. That’s where we come in. Walk them through how to make their beds the first several times they do it. Then, gradually allow them to do it more and more on their own until they have it down.

Make it a habit

Your child is more likely to make their bed if it becomes a habit. To do this, we recommend using habit stacking. Habit stacking involves doing a new habit immediately after an already established habit. For example, you could have your child make their bed everyday after they brush their teeth.

Make it fun

Let’s face it, kids don’t like to do chores. However, they’ll be more likely to do them if a little bit of fun was involved. When you’re first teaching your kids, have some fun with them! Joke around or try to make it a competition to see how fast they can make their bed. You could also get their stuffed animals involved by neatly placing their favorite ones on their newly made bed.

Do you have your own tricks for teaching your child how to make the bed? Share them in the comments section below!

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How to Help Your Child with Back-to-School Anxiety

Happy schoolchildren studing and answer questions in classroom during a lesson at primary school

Few kids want to go back to school, but some may even be anxious about the idea of it. Back-to-school anxiety is completely normal. Nevertheless, it’s never fun to go through, for the child or for the parents. Here, we list some ways you can help your child deal with their back-to-school anxiety.

Remind them (and yourself) that this is common

When kids start feeling anxious about going back to school, it can be easy for them to think that they’re the only ones who feel this way. But this kind of thinking can make them feel isolated, increasing their existing anxiety. It’s important to remind your kids (and yourselves) that back-to-school anxiety is completely normal and that there’s nothing wrong with feeling nervous.

Take a day to walk them around the school or classroom

Kids become especially nervous if they’re starting a new school or simply changing classrooms. The fear of the unknown sets in, and it makes it all the easier for their minds to create catastrophic situations. To help dispel these fears, take a day during the summer to introduce them to their new school or classroom. Walk them around and show them the different rooms they’ll be taking classes in. Just make sure you get the school’s permission before you do this!

Problem solve

Ask your child why they’re so nervous about going back to school. Once you have their reasons, you can figure out ways to resolve those worries. For instance, if they’re worried that they won’t have friends in their classes, ask around to see which kids are in your child’s classes. If they’re concerned about their workload, show them that they have already handled tough workloads in the past.

Provide comfort

At the end of the day, your child may just need a hug or a comforting presence near them as they gear up for school. Try to support them as much as you can. You can even keep them entertained with some of their favorite activities to take their minds off of school.

Stuffed animals can be a great way to comfort your child when they’re nervous. Here at The Zoo Factory, we have many stuffable animals for you to choose from. Look through our online inventory today to get started!