Pretend Play Just Got Very Useful: These Toy Vacuums Have Real Suction
We know that children learn best by watching us, so we shouldn't be surprised when they try to turn the everyday objects we use around the house into their own toys. This is all good when it comes to pots and pans, but when your toddler tries to grab a dirty mop or an electric appliance, things can get gross at best and dangerous at worst. That's why toy makers were pretty smart when they invented role-playing toys that mimic cleaning tools. And we're here to praise the absolute geniuses who decided to make toy vacuums that really suck.
We mean this in the best possible way: These toy vacuums really suck up dirt, so what you get when you buy something like the Ryan's World Toy Vacuum Cleaner isn't just a fun toy for your little one. Now you've got a tiny helper actually cleaning your floor. We're not in favor of child labor in general as a concept, but child labor when your kid thinks they're just playing is a win-win. (Sorry, that may be a bit of an exaggeration.)
Even though the cordless toy Dyson replicas you can get at Amazon or Pottery Barn Kids have a bit of suction, they're still not real vacuum cleaners, and that's a good thing. You don't want your 2-year-old to start sucking up their older siblings' Lego parts or torturing your pets, after all. We tested the Ryan's World vacuum, and it wasn't even strong enough to pick up bits of paper. But when we opened the compartment, there was real dirt inside—a sign that it was cleaning something, and also that, erm, someone needs to get out the real Dyson in a minute.
It may not be a ton of dirt, but that's enough to teach kids what grown-ups have been doing with those much louder machines. This is far more satisfying than the old Fisher-Price Corn Popper of your youth. Plus, by pushing a toy vacuum around the house, kids learn about cause and effect, and they practice some of those fine and gross motor skills they'll be needing for more than just cleaning the house.
Eventually, your pint-size janitor may want to branch out into other cleaning pursuits. You can go the traditional route and give them the Melissa & Doug broom and mop set (which, incidentally, also work in real life). You could also decide to entrust your child with a real, handheld cordless vacuum. Just, maybe clear away the Barbie shoes and other valuables first.
Below are some options for toy vacuums and other ways for your kids to play house-cleaner.
Ryan's World Children's Toy Vacuum Cleaner
We like that this toy is light and easy for very young kids to push around. Fans of Ryan's World, the YouTube toy-unboxing sensation, will enjoy the song the vacuum plays. Parents will enjoy the fact that you can turn that song to a lower volume or all the way off while continuing to vacuum. It runs on a rechargeable lithium ion battery that plugs into a USB port. This same vacuum comes in a "Baby Shark" version, if you have nerves of steel.
Casdon Little Helper Dyson Cord-Free Vacuum
With its licensed Dyson name and a design that's a dead ringer for a real Dyson stick vacuum, this toy (and its ball vacuum counterpart) had a few adults thinking they'd discovered a massive sale when they first came out. Nope, this is still a toy—as is the more expensive gray version you can buy from Pottery Barn Kids. It requires three C batteries to operate, but even fully charged, it's not going to replace the real thing. Still, it's perfect for kids who want to steal their parents' Dysons. (Oh, how we wish that phase would last until they go away for college!)
Melissa & Doug Let's Play House: Dust! Sweep! Mop!
Even if you didn't want your kids to do any real cleaning around the house, we don't know how you'd stop them from picking up some dirt and dust with this broom and mop set. It's also a whole lot quieter than the Ryan's World vacuum.
To buy: Melissa & Doug Let's Play House: Dust! Sweep! Mop!, $23.97 (originally $35.79); amazon.com.
Eufy by Anker HomeVac H11
A fellow Parents.com editor says her 5-year-old loves to use this handheld vacuum around their house, so we're going to present it to you as a viable option—probably not for toddlers, but for slightly older kids who still get a kick out of cleaning-as-play. At 1.2 pounds, it's light enough for kids to hold, and if they'll let you borrow it, you can clean your car too.