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Choosing the Perfect Stuffed Animal for Your Child

bears as a souvenir in a doll carriage in front of a souvenir shop in berlin

There’s no denying the joy and excitement that a child experiences when receiving a new stuffed animal. These plush companions become trusted confidants, reliable playmates, and comfort providers. But, choosing the perfect stuffed animal for your child requires more thought than you might initially think. It’s crucial to consider age-appropriateness, safety, and the individual preferences of your little one.

Age Matters: 0-2 Years

For infants and toddlers, safety is paramount. Choose stuffed animals that are labeled as safe for this age group, avoiding toys with small parts like buttons or bows that could be choking hazards. Additionally, opt for animals with embroidered features instead of plastic or glass eyes.

Toddler-Friendly Choices: 2-4 Years

At this age, kids start to develop personal preferences and motor skills. Consider stuffed animals that are easy to hold and manipulate, yet sturdy enough to withstand the rigors of daily play. Machine-washable stuffed animals are also recommended due to inevitable spills and accidents.

For the Creative Kids: 5-7 Years

For children in this age group, a build-your-own stuffed animal could be an excellent choice. It allows them to express their creativity and develop a deeper connection with their plush friend. They’ll also love the sense of accomplishment that comes from creating their toy.

Making Memories: 8 Years and Above

Older children might appreciate a more sophisticated or unusual stuffed animal. Limited edition or collector’s items can become treasured keepsakes. Stuffed animals that correlate with their interests, like a favorite animal or character, are also a hit.

Choosing the perfect stuffed animal for your child is a unique opportunity to foster their development, comfort, and imagination. Always consider their age, interests, and safety to make the best choice.

Looking for the perfect stuffed companion for your child? At The Zoo Factory, we offer an extensive range of build-your-own stuffed animals, perfect for every age. Our online store is sure to have the right fluffy friend for your little one. Visit our website and explore our collection today.

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5 Essential Tips for Taking Care of Your Stuffed Animals

Cute soft toys for sale at a shop.

Everyone has a favorite stuffed animal, that cherished companion that’s been with us through countless adventures. These beloved buddies are more than just toys, they’re an integral part of our childhood memories. Like all valued items, your stuffed animals need proper care to stay in good shape. Here are five essential tips for making your furry friend last a lifetime.

1. Regular Grooming is Key

Just like a real pet, your stuffed animal benefits from regular grooming. A soft bristle brush is perfect for removing dust and keeping fur shiny and smooth. Remember, always brush in the direction of the fur to avoid causing damage.

2. Smart Washing Practices

Stuffed animals can get a bit grubby from all the love they receive. Before tossing them into the washing machine, check the care label for instructions. If machine washing is a no-go, a gentle hand wash with mild soap will do the trick. Be sure to squeeze out excess water carefully and let it air dry to maintain its shape.

3. Storage Matters

When not in use, store your stuffed animal in a cool, dry place. Avoid direct sunlight which can fade colors over time. Consider storing your plush buddies in fabric bags instead of plastic to allow them to breathe and prevent moisture buildup.

4. Repair as Soon as Needed

A small tear today could become a major hole tomorrow. Ensure you repair damages as soon as they appear. A basic sewing kit and a little know-how will keep your fluffy friends intact and looking their best.

5. Rotate Your Toys

Switch out your favorite stuffed animals occasionally. This helps prevent wear and tear from constant use and extends their lifespan.

Remember, your stuffed animals are treasured companions, deserving of care and attention. By following these tips, you can enjoy the comfort and friendship of your stuffed animal for years to come.

Ready to add to your fluffy family? Browse through our extensive range of plush friends at The Zoo Factory. With our build-your-own stuffed animals and variety of outfits, you’re sure to find the perfect companion that will stay with you for a lifetime. Check out our selection today!

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Why Do Dogs Love Stuffed Animals?

dog sleeping with a stuffed animal

Is there anything cuter than looking at a bunch of photos of dogs playing with their favorite stuffed animals? We don’t think so! From dogs nestling up with their stuffed animals to take a nap to dogs “wrestling” with their stuffed animals, it’s absolutely adorable to watch a dog interact with a stuffed animal.

As it turns out, there are a number of different reasons why our beloved dogs seem to gravitate towards stuffed animals:

Dogs enjoy holding something in their mouths

One theory people have for why dogs love stuffed animals is that many dogs, including Golden Retrievers, enjoy walking around with something in their mouth. People believe that dogs feel good about themselves when they have something like a stuffed animal in their mouth and get to enjoy a sense of accomplishment. Another theory for why dogs love stuffed animals is that playing with them reminds them of their natural instincts to hunt. While not all dogs are hunters, many of them are, and the thought is that dogs are reminded of their hunting ways when they’re shaking a stuffed animal all over a room.

Dogs simply enjoy playing with stuffed animals

But the most prevalent theory on why dogs loved stuffed animals is probably the most practical and believable one. The majority of people think dogs enjoy stuffed animals simply because they’re a lot of fun to play and cuddle with. Just like your child might love to line up their stuffed animals and play games with them, dogs also seem to enjoy having stuffed animals around that they can play with whenever they want.

You know who loves stuffed animals and teddy bears as much as dogs? Just about everyone else too! Call The Zoo Factory at 480-699-5519 today to get your hands on some of the cutest stuffed animals around. Just be sure to hide them from your furry friends before they get their paws on them.

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How to Help Your Child Transition into a New School

mother talking to daughter as she waits for schoolbus

Our kids are likely comfortable in the school they’re in. They have friends there, they know the teachers, and they’ve likely been in that school district for several years. However, some kids don’t always stay in the same school district until they’re 18. They might end up in a new school because their family moved or because they can get a higher quality education at another school.

Whatever the reason for it, changing schools is never easy. That’s why we’ve put together some tips to help your child transition into a new school:

Let them be anxious

As parents and caregivers, it’s never easy to watch our children get stressed or anxious. However, changing schools is a stressful endeavor, and trying to get rid of your child’s anxiety will just, counterintuitively, make it worse. Instead, it’s better to acknowledge your child’s emotions and to let them work through those emotions in their own way.

That doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to reduce your child’s stress (more on that below), just that your child can be open about what they’re feeling and be comforted by the fact that it’s perfectly normal to be nervous.

Explain why they’re changing schools

Most children don’t want to change schools. They’re comfortable in what they know, and they enjoy spending time with their friends at their current school. So, simply telling your child that they have to go to a new school might make them resist the change even more. By explaining to them why they’re going to a new school, they may accept the idea more.

Take them to the school ahead of time

Children are often nervous going to a new school because they’re afraid of the unknown. Thankfully, you can help reduce their stress by making the school a more familiar place. You can do this by scheduling a tour and having your child meet their new teachers before the school year starts. Doing so will help cut back on the number of things your child has to worry about.

Changing schools can be a stressful time, so make sure your child has a few sources of comfort by their side. A lovable, stuffed animal may be just the thing to help your child through the transition. Look through our website to find the perfect stuffed animal for your child today!

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Plush for the Planet: How We’re Taking Steps to Protect Our Planet

Adorable blue peacock sitting on a wooden table with blurred bac

With rising global temperatures and increasing pollution, it’s more important now than ever before to take care of our planet. After all, our future planet is the planet that our children will grow up in. Unfortunately, many of the toys and stuffed animals that our children play with end up in landfills that hurt our planet’s health. That’s why we at The Zoo Factory are taking steps to protect our planet with our Plush for the Planet line.

What is Plush for the Planet?

Plush for the Planet is a special line of stuffed animals here at The Zoo Factory that are made out of 100% recycled fabrics. They have the same high quality and standards that you can expect from any of our products, but with the added bonus of being friendly to the environment. Recycled fabrics look and feel like normal fabric, but have been reprocessed from waste materials such as plastic bottles, thus preventing that waste from ending up in landfills.

Why Choose Recycled Fabrics?

Did you know that 90% of the world’s toys are made from plastics? And that 80% of those toys will end up in landfills around the world? And let’s not forget the many other plastic items that fill our lands and oceans each day. With Plush for the Planet, each stuffed animal is preventing 9.5 plastic bottles from entering landfills. Plus, not only does recycled fabric reduce plastic in our environment, it also reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 70% compared to ordinary virgin polyester fabric.

Help protect our planet by purchasing from our Plush for the Planet line. We have 16” and 8” stuffed animals available. Look through our website and keep an eye out for our Made with Recycled Fabrics sign.

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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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Why Do Pets Love Stuffed Animals?

Why Do Pets Love Stuffed Animals?

Growing up, our first best friend was likely our favorite stuffed animal. We all carried our treasured stuffed animals through life to help us tackle tough times and sleep through the night. Even as adults, we still love and cherish our stuffed animals. But did you know that our pets can love stuffed animals just like we do? Indeed, many pets, specifically dogs, can become attached to stuffed animals. But why is this the case? Read on to learn more.

It’s in Their Genes

Different dog breeds exhibit different character traits towards stuffed animals based on their ancestors. Dogs traditionally used for hunting and carrying game, such as retriever breeds, enjoy carrying around stuffed animals in their mouth because the feeling is familiar. Dogs that are passionate about playing fetch or chasing things also enjoy the playful aspect of stuffed animals. Stuffed animals rip apart easily and many dogs enjoy it because it triggers that “hunting” instinct that they can’t help but satisfy.

Pets Plays Favorites

Both dogs and cats have that one toy that seems to be their favorite, but what makes a certain stuffed animal a “favorite” for your pet? Many different reasons could explain why your pet might like one stuffed toy the most, from the size and smell to the shape and texture. Your pet probably also enjoys how that specific toy makes them feel or they might believe they are taking care of the toy like they would care for a puppy or kitten. Pets create attachments to their favorite stuffed animals and associate them with mothering, playfulness, or relaxation.

Our Pets Love Us

Pets are intelligent and can make connection between special moments with their favorite toy and happy memories of you. Giving your dog or cat a new toy makes them happy with you, symbolizing a special moment that impacts your pet in a unique way. Perhaps because you gave your pet a stuffed animal and because they love and respect you, they choose to love and care for the toy as a result! This is likely why our pets attempt to play with us when playing with their toys!

Looking for a stuffed animal for a loved one? With dozens of fun, soft animals to choose from,  The Zoo Factory likely has your child’s new favorite friend and toy.

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How Playing Dress-Up Brings Developmental Benefits

How Playing Dress-Up Brings Developmental Benefits

Playtime may seem silly on the surface, but it actually serves a vital role in childhood development. Many species use play as a way to teach their children lessons that will help them years down the line. Humans are no different. Playing dress-up can be especially beneficial, offering developmental benefits that will last a long time. Read on to learn more:

See the World Through Other Viewpoints

When children play dress-up, they learn valuable ways in which others contribute to our lives. Perhaps a child is playing the role of a mother and has a crying baby to nurture, or maybe they’re pretending to be a policeman and stopping “the bad guys.” This sense of imagination allows children to learn empathy by seeing alternative viewpoints and responding to them accordingly.

Building Blocks for a Diverse Vocabulary

When children play through dress-up, they begin to explore terms, phrases, and words that are often inclusive to the role they are playing. These strengths can develop through hearing certain words in books and transferring them into the role they’re playing. Eventually, children will use them in daily conversations.

Confidence Building

For children, dressing up and having theatrical elements to their play can greatly impact their overall confidence. Self-expression is incredibly helpful when building self-confidence and this is just another way we can allow children to develop that skill. What child doesn’t feel on top of the world while dressed up as their favorite super hero?

If your child loves playing dress up, consider purchasing some outfits for one of their Zoo Factory stuffed animals so that the two can play dress up together! Visit our website for a wide selection of outfits.

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How to Name Your Stuffed Animals

When we get a new stuffed animal, we automatically begin to form an attachment. As a result, we often like to give our stuffed animals names in order to feel closer to them. For some, this is easy, but for others it can be an agonizing decision, almost like naming a pet. So, if you or your child is struggling to come up with a name for a new stuffable friend, then read over some of these tips to finding the perfect name:

Consider your toy’s features

Take a good look at your stuffed animal. Is it fluffy? Does it have a big head? Is it a teddy bear or a dinosaur? The features of your stuffed animal will help you find some inspiration for finding the right name.

Keep it simple

You don’t want a long and complicated name for your stuffed animal—you might find yourself forgetting it—so keep it short and sweet. If you really do want a longer name, then consider using a nickname that you can regularly use.

Name it after someone or something

Do you have a person or something you admire? Then feel free to name your stuffed animal after them! It’s a touching tribute, plus it’ll ensure that you always remember the name. You can even shorten the name of someone. For example, if someone you know is named Michael, then name your stuffed animal Mike or Mikey.

Don’t overthink it

At the end of the day, it’s best not to overthink the name you give your stuffed animal. While you may want something special and unique, there’s nothing wrong with naming your stuffed animal “Fluffy” if that’s the first thing that pops into your head. Sometimes the names that come naturally are the best ones to use, so feel free to go with your gut when it comes to naming your stuffed animal.

Looking for a new best friend for yourself or you child? Then take a look at the stuffable animals brought to you by The Zoo Factory. From teddy bears to dinosaurs, we’re sure you’ll find the right friend—and the right name—for you.

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The Best Stuffed Toys from the 80s

Kids today have smartphones, tablets, and a whole array of fancy gadgets for them to fiddle with. Not so much for kids of the 80s. If you’re an 80s kid, you likely had a very different childhood—one that included toys like the Cabbage Patch Kids or Ruxpin Bears. Certainly not smartphones (unless playing with your parents’ Motorola counts). So today, we at The Zoo Factory are taking a trip down memory lane to see all of the different toys 80s kids grew up with.

Cabbage Patch Kids

We can’t talk about the 80s without including the Cabbage Patch Kids. While some people thought these dolls were ugly, the mass majority of Americans were buying them in bulk. Every kid in the 80s was dying to have a Cabbage Patch Doll, and parents caused riots in order to get their hands on one of them.

Care Bears

These adorable, colorful bears were originally designed for greeting cards in the early 80s, but by 1983 they were turned into teddy bears, followed by a TV series that ran until 1988. Each Care Bear had a symbol on its belly that corresponded to its name and ability from which it drew its powers. There were even Care Bear Cousins which could be other animals like lions, rabbits, or dogs.

Pound Puppies

Pound Puppies (and their kitten counterparts Pound Purries) were extremely popular in the mid to late 80s. They came in an assortment of colors and each Pound Puppy or Purry came with their own cardboard carrying case and adoption papers. Similar to Care Bears, Pound Puppies also had their own TV show featuring several puppy characters.

Teddy Ruxpin

For some, Ruxpin bears were adorable, for others, they were downright creepy. No matter your opinion on Ruxpin bears, though, no one can deny how popular they were in the 80s. They were so popular, in fact, that a legendary baseball player was traded for 500 of them.

80s kids have grown up, and many of their favorite toys are no longer around, but that doesn’t mean your own children can’t enjoy a stuffed toy of their own. If you’re looking for the perfect stuffed toy for your child, then take a look at our selection here at The Zoo Factory. From teddy bears to dinosaurs, we have plenty of stuffable animals that your child is sure to love!