“ Brand: Casdon / Type: Housewares „
Toddlers seem to love role-play and trying to copy mum and dad. I'm sure my son is no exception and one of his favourite "jobs" is the vacuuming (despite being very, very scared of the vacuum when he was much younger). I'm all for encouraging a child to help around the house and, where possible, like to involve my little one in the jobs that are safe for him to do. He helps me load and unload the washing machine, puts his bowls and dishes away and helps with the dusting. Vacuuming is not so easy though. Adult vacuum cleaners are, quite rightly, not designed for toddlers. They're heavy, tall and potentially dangerous. When my son started hanging onto the handle with me, trying to help something had to be done. Thankfully, Christmas was not far away and Santa saved the day.
Santa's gift was a Casdon toy vacuum cleaner. Having a look at the Casdon website (which, until we had the vacuum I didn't know existed) shows that Casdon specialise in making child-sized replicas of adult domestic machines. There are ovens, microwaves, irons and lots of vacuum cleaners, each realistic miniatures.
The cleaner that we have is a model Electrolux 350 "Contour" and, having looked at the site, I think it's probably the most suitable one for us for a number of reasons. The vacuum itself is a lightweight grey plastic, easily light enough for my son at 18 months. The handle currently comes up to his chin level and so although at the moment I think it a bit tall there is some growing room left. This compares favourably with the popular Fisher Price vacuum which is rather on the short side, even for an 18 month old (intended age 1-3).
The vacuum has a "floor type selector" knob, a hose with crevice tool attachment, a flex and a play plug. It really looks the part although I have a few issues with some of the realistic bits and the overall design.
One of the best things about this vacuum, and unlike many, is that it does not require batteries. There is a click-clack mechanism on the wheels that means it produces that rather familiar carpet-sweeper sound when pushed over the floor. This has proven to be more than sufficient noise for my little one and means that one is not greeted with annoying tunes or worse, simulated vacuum noise that doesn't get turned off.
The floor selector knob has also turned out to be a hit - it's only a dial that turns round, clicking as it does, but my son thinks he's doing something. Odd really as my own Dyson doesn't have such a knob.
The hose and crevice tool are realistic and I can see why they are included but the design means that it gets little use. The hose attaches to the vacuum passing behind the flex (more on that in a moment). This makes it very hard for little ones to get the hose in and out on their own and, as I think it a bit of a trip hazard, if I find it out I tend to put it back as soon as my son has lost interest. Having said that, it's not a "pingy" hose like, for example, on a Dyson and, as the vacuum is so light I'm not worried about the vacuum tipping over when the hose is being used.
The one addition to this toy that I think unnecessary is the flex. This is a soft plastic string with a suction pad at the end to simulate a plug. I have never unwound this (save to see whether the plug sticks) as I don't want my son to start trying to plug it in (or anything else for that matter) and, thankfully, he hasn't tried to unwind it either. Encouraging children to plug things in, is, to my mind, rather dangerous. I also think it's probably rather dangerous to have a flex trailing across a room anymore than is strictly necessary. The suction cup does come off the wall quite easily, but there is always that one time. The flex also means that use of the toy has to be more closely supervised than one might hope as there is a strangulation hazard too. The manufacturer's do place the toy's age suitability at 3+ so I suppose that some of those issues might be lessened but flex aside there is nothing else about the toy that's not suitable for a younger child.
My son adores his vacuum. As soon as I say "shall we do the hoovering" he's straight to our understairs cupboard to get his vacuum out. As I vacuum around the house he follows, making realistic vacuuming motions as he does so. He will also seek out the toy independently and either vacuum or run around the house with it in the fashion of a push-along.
I like this vacuum too, as, despite a couple of issues (most of which are, if I'm honest, down to the fact that my son is not really old enough for the toy) it is versatile and unfussy. I don't have batteries to change, it's not noisy and it's encouraging my son to help around the house. I'm glad that Santa didn't buy a mock Dyson from the same manufacturer as this uses batteries (and supposedly picks up dirt but, reading reports, doesn't actually). I'm glad that we didn't get the ever popular toy versions with tinny songs and pretty colours. This is simple and it does the trick.
Casdon products are, according to their website, stocked in a number of places, although, until Santa found this one I had never seen any other than the mock Dyson stocked by Argos (and I thought it was a Dyson product rather than a Casdon one). Amazon do stock a good range (many though are available from independent sellers). They are competitively priced and I know for a fact that Santa found his in an independent toy shop for the grand price of £4.99 (Casdon quote the price as £12 as at Feb 08). Great value for money in my opinion.
Recommended (with some cautionary notes)
Cleaning made fun! Features 'tools on board' styling. Hose brush accessories, and a simulated flex and play plug are included. Height 65cm.