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Tips for Buying Secondhand Baby Items

baby clothes hanging on wire

Raising a child is expensive. From cribs to clothes to toys to food, you’ll be stretching your budget thin if you always buy the latest and greatest items. That’s why many parents turn to secondhand items to buy for their children. By buying secondhand, you can get the great quality products for half the price as it would be new. Nevertheless, buying secondhand is different from buying new. That’s why we’ve put together these simple tips to help you get started.

Where to buy secondhand baby items

You can’t buy secondhand baby items in a traditional store, so you’ll have to look elsewhere. Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are the most common places to find secondhand items. Plus, you can arrange an in-person meet-up to inspect the item. There are also apps such as ThredUP that specialize in selling used items.

What NOT to buy secondhand

There are many baby items you can buy secondhand, but there are some that you shouldn’t. Breast pumps and crib mattresses should never be bought secondhand. And while many items of clothing and blankets can be bought used, you’ll want to inspect them carefully to ensure they’re in good shape.

Inspect the item carefully

Every item that you buy secondhand should be inspected carefully before purchase. While most used items are in good condition, you still run the risk of buying an item that is broken or soiled. If you’re buying online, try to find pictures of the item or make sure you’re buying from a reputable seller. If you’re buying in-person, test the item out and inspect every inch of it before you buy it.

Check for expiration dates or recalled items

Many baby items such as clothes or blankets don’t have expiration dates. But some do. Car seats, for instance, come with expiration dates of about six to ten years. Cribs or toys, meanwhile, may have been recalled after they were first purchased. Do your research before buying any older item.

While buying secondhand items can save you lots of money, it’s important to still get new items for your child. In that regard, consider buying your child a stuffable animal from The Zoo Factory. We have plenty of options available, just look through our website to get started!

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How to Start a Family Fitness Challenge

How to Start a Family Fitness Challenge

We all understand the importance of staying fit, not just for our children but for ourselves as well. However, it can be difficult to motivate everyone. That’s where family fitness challenges come in. Fun for the whole family, these challenges can motivate the adults and children to reach their fitness goals. Here’s how to start:

Pick a goal

A family fitness challenge requires every member of the family to work towards a goal. Picking that goal, however, will require some thought. Some families do the same sport and work towards, say, running a mile under 10 minutes. Yet, you may find that not every member of your family wants to run or do the same sport. If that’s the case, you can all have your own individual goals. Your son may work on improving his batting average, while your daughter can try to do 30 consecutive push-ups.

Make a plan

Now that you have your goal(s), it’s time to make a plan to reaching it. Detail how each person will reach their fitness goal and find a way to monitor their efforts (such as fitness logs, training apps, and more). You should also have a timeframe for when the challenge starts and when it ends. If you would like certain rules or guidelines, these should be agreed upon before the challenge starts.

Choose a reward

A fitness challenge can be arduous, but you can keep everyone motivated with a reward. If your family is the competitive type, you can all compete to see who reaches their goal first. Whoever does gets a reward of their choosing. However, you can also reward each person who manages to meet their fitness goal in the allotted time. Almost anything can be a reward—a trip, cash, a new toy, or a fancy meal.

One way you can reward your kids for meeting their fitness goals is to get them a stuffable animal from The Zoo Factory. Look through our website to get started!

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How to Help Your Shy Child

How to Help Your Shy Child

Shyness is often seen as a negative trait by many parents, but in reality, it can be a strength. Shy children are polite, attentive, and great listeners. Their shyness isn’t something that needs to be fixed, but your children may need help learning to cope with it as they’re introduced to new environments and new people.

Why is my child shy?

The first step in helping your shy child is learning more about shyness. Shyness is considered a complex trait, meaning that their shyness was caused by a combination of genetics and life experiences. Put simply, if your child is shy, they will likely be shy for the rest of their life, no matter what you do to “get them out of their shell.”

Don’t see it as a problem to be “fixed”

Many people see shyness as a problem, and that they have to “fix” it in order for their child to live a happy and carefree life. However, this isn’t the case, and telling your child that their shyness is a problem will only hurt their self-esteem. Just because your child doesn’t jump to introduce themselves to every stranger doesn’t mean they can’t be happy in their own way.

Instead, help them cope with their shyness

Shy children will likely be shy for their entire lives. Instead of trying to fix their shyness, teach them how to accept, cope, and live with it. You can do this in a few ways:

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: CBT teaches children how to face their fears and manage their anxiety in tough situations.
  • Social Scripts: Teach your child what to say and how to behave in certain situations. You can teach them by using toys or stuffed animals to practice social interactions.
  • One-on-one interactions: Introducing your child to a large group of people will just frighten them. One-on-one interactions are much easier for them, and you’ll have more success getting your child to open up.
  • Be patient: If your child shrinks away from a social situation, don’t lose your patients with them. Understand that it will take time until they’re completely comfortable around certain people.

Stuffed animals can help children cope with anxiety and learn social skills. At The Zoo Factory, we have many lovable stuffed animals that can help your shy child throughout their lives. Look through our inventory to get started!

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How to Divide Chores Between Your Kids

How to Divide Chores Between Your Kids

Chores can teach our kids valuable life lessons, making them more independent and more successful later on in life. But when you have multiple kids, dividing chores amongst them can be a chore on its own. After all, you don’t want things to feel unfair, but you also don’t want to give your kids more than they can handle.

Here we discuss how best to divide chores between your kids to keep everyone (mostly) happy in your household:


Make it age-appropriate

The types of chores you assign to your children will depend largely on their age. For instance, a 12-year-old could handle vacuuming their own room, but you can’t expect the same of your 6-year-old. Keep the chores age-appropriate so that everyone can handle their fair share. If you’re not sure what’s appropriate for your child, look through this list here.

Use a buddy system

A buddy system can ease the burden and even make chores a bit more fun for everyone involved. A younger sibling can help an older sibling with their tasks, allowing both to get through their chores quickly. You can also pair similar-aged siblings together to complete the same chores.

Rotate chores

If your kids are close in age, then the fairest way to divide chores is to rotate them. In other words, if Stacey cleaned the toy room last week, then it’s Tom’s turn to clean it this week. This keeps things fair, but it also changes it up and prevents chores from becoming too monotonous.

Have a reward system in place

Frankly put, your kids won’t do their chores just because you tell them to (though we certainly wish that were the case). A reward system will motivate kids to keep up with their tasks and do what is asked of them. This reward system can be a simple allowance, or it can involve presents such as a trip to the ice cream shop or a new toy.

If your kids have been keeping up with their chores, then consider rewarding them with a stuffable animal from The Zoo Factory. Look through our inventory today to get started!

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How Parents (And Kids) Can Celebrate Valentine’s Day During COVID-19

How Parents (And Kids) Can Celebrate Valentine’s Day During COVID-19

Like every holiday since the COVID-19 Pandemic, Valentine’s Day looks a little different this year. Instead of dropping the kids off at Grandma and Grandpa’s and having a romantic evening out with your spouse, you’re now stuck at home with the kids in tow.

Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a great evening. Here we discuss a few ways parents (and kids) can celebrate Valentine’s Day during the COVID-19 Pandemic:

Plan a family activity

We understand the desire to get some time away from the kids, but it really is important to include them in some of the festivities. Unable to celebrate it at school with their peers, your kids may feel left out. Instead, plan one or two family activities for the day. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Make a chocolate dessert together for dinner
  • Create Valentine’s Day cards to send out to friends and family
  • Have a movie marathon
  • Play Valentine’s Day-based, pretend play games with their toys and stuffed animals

But plan some alone time too

After almost a year shut up in the house with the kids, the urge for some alone time with your spouse is real. We get it. So, if you can, try to carve out some time to spend with just your spouse. This year, Valentine’s Day is on a Sunday, giving you ample time throughout the day (or at least, more than usual). We recommend doing those family activities mentioned above during the day. Then, once the kids have gone up for bed, cuddle up with your spouse on the couch, turn on a movie, and relish in some peace and quiet.

Whether it’s for your kids or your spouse, teddy bears are the perfect Valentine’s Day gift. Check out our collection here at The Zoo Factory to get started!

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How to Help Your Child Build Their Self-Esteem

How to Help Your Child Build Their Self-Esteem

We all want our kids to have high self-esteem. After all, high self-esteem can make our kids more capable and confident, both now and into the future. But self-esteem doesn’t just appear on its own. There are things that we, as parents and caregivers, can do to further promote our children’s confidence in their abilities.

Here are just a few but impactful ways that you can help build your child’s self-esteem:

Show your love

Our kids aren’t mind-readers. While we know how much we love them, they may be less sure if we are more stoic about our emotions. So, be sure to show them how much you love them each and every day. It doesn’t have to be something overt. Instead, it can be something as simple as a hug goodbye, a kiss on the forehead before bed, or listening to them talk about their day.

Give them responsibilities

Chores and other responsibilities will show your kids that they are capable of much more than they thought. If you always take care of everything, your kids will think that they can’t do anything on their own. So, don’t be afraid to give your kids some age-appropriate chores to do, as well as an allowance for each chore they complete.

Let them be independent

Allowing your kids to be more independent will, similar to added responsibilities, show them what they are capable of. Confidence and independence are directly linked, with one building off of the other and vice versa. While your kids may make mistakes, they will learn and grow from it more than they would if you take care of everything for them.

Play with them

Spending fun, quality time with your kids is another way to show them that you love them. Plus, the more our kids play, the more they learn; and the more they learn, the more confident they will become. Not to mention that regular playtime is a great stress reliever, especially during these difficult times.

Here at The Zoo Factory, we carry plenty of lovable, stuffable animals for your child to play with. Have questions? Then feel free to contact us today!



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How to Help Your Kid Set a New Year’s Resolution

How to Help Your Kid Set a New Year’s Resolution

The New Year is almost upon us, and you know what that means—it’s time to set for your kids to set their New Year’s resolutions! However, setting a New Year’s resolution and keeping a New Year’s resolution are two different stories. We all have those moments where we told ourselves we’d start working out on January 1st, and by February 1st, our treadmills have collected dust.

So, how can you help your kids to be more successful with their resolutions? Here are a few tips:

Be specific

Research has shown that the more specific your goals are, the more likely you are to achieve them. If your child wants to be more active, simply stating their goal as “exercise more” won’t cut it. Instead, encourage your child to be specific about their goals. For example, instead of saying “exercise more,” they could say, “I will play soccer every other day for 30 minutes.”

Break a big goal up into smaller chunks

Big goals, while ambitious, can be intimidating. Even if your child wants to play soccer every other day for 30 minutes, going from playing no soccer to a lot is difficult. Start small and work your way up. So, you can have the over-arching resolution be to play soccer every other day for 30 minutes, have your child start January by playing soccer once a week, and working their way up each month.

Set a reward

Your kids will feel motivated to complete their resolutions on January 1st, but they’ll feel much different on February 1st. To stay motivated, set a reward for meeting their New Year’s resolution. If you’re breaking your big goal up into smaller chunks, have a small reward for each stage and then a big reward for the end of the year.

At The Zoo Factory, we hope everyone manages to create and stick to their New Year’s resolution in 2021! And what better reward for a year of hard work than a lovable, stuffable animal? Take a look through our inventory to get started!

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4 Easy Tips for Keeping Your Playroom Clean and Organized

4 Easy Tips for Keeping Your Playroom Clean and Organized

Let’s face it. A playroom can get really messy. Toys will be strewn about the floor, and all of those shelves and baskets you bought for organization will remain empty. However, there are ways to keep your playroom clean and organized. Here are a few tips to get started:

Donate old toys

The first step in reducing mess is reducing how many items can create a mess. If there are toys that your child doesn’t play with anymore, donate them to local organizations to free up space in your playroom. Just make sure that your child agrees to donate their old toys. If they’re having trouble giving some away, talk it over and emphasize that the toys are going to a good home.

Put sentimental toys in long-term storage

There will be some toys that you and your child simply don’t want to give away, even if they don’t play with them anymore. After all, many of us still have our childhood stuffed animals tucked away somewhere. For these toys, consider placing them in long-term storage to keep them safe but out of the way. You can store them in air-tight bins, or you could display them in a freestanding case.

Encourage your child to clean up

It’s much easier to keep your playroom clean if you’re not the only one cleaning it. Encourage your child to clean up after themselves every time they take out their toys. You can do this by turning cleaning into a game. Set a timer and see if they can clean up the room before the timer goes off. If they do, offer a reward. This can be anything from a piece of candy to their choice of a movie.

Make it easy to clean

If it’s not easy to clean up your playroom, then neither you nor your child will clean it. Instead, you need a quick and simple system that works for both of you. Set up baskets around the room so that all you have to do is pick up the toys and drop them in. We recommend using multiple baskets, one for each type of toy, so that things stay organized.

Do you have your own tricks for cleaning up your child’s playroom? Then leave a comment below or contact us today!

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How to Throw a Kid’s Halloween Party During COVID-19

How to Throw a Kid’s Halloween Party During COVID-19

Traditional Halloween parties are a thing of the past, thanks to the coronavirus. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean our kids can’t have any fun this Halloween. There are still safe ways to hold a Halloween party for your kids and their friends, even if you have to resort to a virtual party rather than an in-person one.

Here are just a couple of ways you can throw your kids a great Halloween party this year:

Outdoor costume party

An outdoor costume party will allow you to invite people over while still staying socially distant, weather permitting, of course. Have guests dress up in their favorite costumes and hold a contest for the party’s best costume. Winners can receive extra prizes, and everyone can go home with a goodie bag or party pack. Just make sure that everyone who comes is wearing a cloth mask, not a costume one, as costume masks are thin and provide very little protection (thankfully, there are ways that guests can match their cloth masks to their costumes).

Virtual Halloween party

If the weather turns sour, or you don’t feel comfortable inviting people over, you can always opt for a virtual party instead. Have your kids and their guests dress up in costumes, and be sure to send Halloween party kits for everyone to enjoy. These party kits can have candy, games, and even stuffed animals with corresponding Halloween costumes. At the end, put on a spooky, kid-appropriate Halloween movie that everyone loves!

Visit a pumpkin patch or apple orchard

Instead of a traditional Halloween costume party, you can always spend some time at a pumpkin patch or apple orchard instead. Many patches and orchards have Halloween celebrations of their own, encouraging guests to come in their best costumes. Go with a small group of trusted friends or family members, wear your masks, and use hand sanitizer before and after touching any of the pumpkins or apples.

Halloween may feel a bit different this year, but we can still have plenty of fun. If you’re throwing a Halloween party this year, see how a party kit and costumes from The Zoo Factory can liven up the experience.

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4 Tips for Spring Cleaning with Kids

4 Tips for Spring Cleaning with Kids

Spring isn’t just the time to trade out your sweaters for your t-shirts; it’s also a chance to clean out your home. Spring cleaning can seem overwhelming when you’re doing it just for yourself, but even more so when you have your kids involved. They may not want to get rid of that toy truck (even though they haven’t touched it in a year), or they may not want to help out at all. That’s why we’ve put together these spring cleaning tips for parents: 

Start small 

Don’t think that you can clean out your house all in one day. Instead, start small. Tackle one room each day and make your child’s task simple (such as separating the toys that they do want from the toys that they don’t want by placing them into buckets).  

Give your child’s toys a good home 

Your kids may resist giving up any of their toys, even if they haven’t touched a majority of those toys in months. To avoid this, find organizations where you could donate the toys to. This will emphasize that the toys are going to a good home to children in need instead of the garbage bin. 

Find some storage space 

There may be some items that you and your child will want to keep but may not have room for. Things such as artwork, their first blankie, or other types of sentimental items can be stored away in bins so that you can still hang onto them, but they’re not taking up as much space.  

Make it fun 

Spring cleaning doesn’t have to be a tiring chore, it can be fun if you set your mind to it. Put on some music, or make it a competition to see how many toys you and your child can find and donate in a day. You can also encourage them by giving them a prize at the end of it, such as ice cream, a trip to the zoo, or even a new toy. Tell them that if they get rid of their old toys, they’ll have more room for new ones.  

If you’ve cleaned out your house and find that you have a little bit more room, then a stuffable animal from The Zoo Factory can be a great reward. Look through our website to get started!