You are cleaning up, and your baby is crawling about, as usual, probably removing all the toys you just put away from the toy box. They are following you and undoing everything you have done in typical baby fashion. Then your baby finally becomes distracted long enough for you to reassemble everything they took apart quickly, and you take this as an opportunity to take out the vacuum and tidy up.
Imagine being your baby.
You plug the vacuum, and while the baby is distracted, you turn it on, and then all hell breaks loose. Your baby’s face falls, and their lip quivers and they let out a scream. They are across the room, and nothing is hurting them, so you approach them, but your baby darts away in fear, lost because they want to come to you but have that thingy-ma jig in your hand.
You put it together and realize the vacuum is causing this ruckus and turn it off.
Your baby immediately stops crying and allows you to pick them up, and you cuddle and reassure them that everything is ok.
Your baby holds on to you for a bit longer and is soon happy again. All is well, but when you make your way to the vacuum, your baby tries to run for it.
This never used to happen before, you tell yourself, or if it has happened before, you wait till they are asleep before you can finish tidying up.
Your baby is afraid of the vacuum cleaner is nothing to worry about in most cases that don’t involve a traumatic experience. In such cases, and any case, your baby is afraid of the vacuum, its best to have them come to terms with it in their own time and not try to desensitize them, but rather encourage them to understand its nothing to fear.
Loud vacuum noises scare many babies.
Babies’ nervous systems are still developing; therefore, they may not have the capacity to handle certain sensory input. If your baby is terrified, crying, and screaming when you turn on the vacuum cleaner or go near it. Take it seriously. Respect your baby’s boundaries by not throwing them into the deep end. Let them decide to jump in when they are ready.
Encourage them to explore the vacuum. Under your supervision, this will help them understand its nothing to fear but something to use safely.
Remember, don’t ignore their concerns. It builds their self-esteem and helps them understand that their feelings are valid and are to be respected. This is because the first seven years of a child’s life form the attitudes and beliefs they will have about themselves for the rest of their lives if not corrected. These are the behaviors and personality they will default to if they never learn how to change.
Help your baby by baby carrying them while vacuuming.
Baby carrying is used in many cultures around the world to help mothers or caregivers keep their babies close while going on with their daily lives. Babies that are carried by their mothers and caregivers are often very secure and have few bad days, and most importantly, the babies enjoy it because they are with Momma or Dadda. Bounding is important for children because they are so into you.
Carrying your baby on your back allows you to keep your baby close and safe too. You can pass them a few toys as you continue with your tasks, and they will contently coo away and even fall asleep. It’s the oldest trick in the baby loving book across the world.
It is important to practice the correct way of placing your baby on your back, always ask for help if you aren’t sure how to manage it. Practiced moms easily swing their babies onto their backs, while they bend forward and quickly spread the wrap around the baby to secure them. It’s always important to only do so when you are confident of your ability to secure your baby independent of any help.
Fortunately, there are different baby wraps available, many of which do not require help to secure your baby.
Gently reassure your baby while vacuuming.
Your baby’s fears are real and valid to them. The best way you can show your love and support, which grows their self-esteem to gently reassure them that its ok to be afraid, it’s careful, and it’s ok to understand how something works so it can help us. Use this as a teaching moment for your baby and teach them about the different things in the world that help us.
Your baby is still learning about the world, you might be used to a vacuum, but for your baby, this is a huge crisis.
OMG, Momma, Dadda, I am at a loss, that thing is going to take you away from me.
Understand that your baby’s concerns are legitimate and be gentle and help them explore at their own pace while encouraging them.
Let someone else vacuum around your baby.
Hold your baby while someone else vacuums. This reassures them that the vacuum means no harm and can be used by anyone. It’s not a monster trying to gobble Momma or Dadda, just a helper that allows anyone to work with it, touch it and come near it.
Touch the vacuum while holding your baby and gently reassure them that it’s ok. Allow them to come to terms with it; always respect your baby’s boundaries. Do not scare them with it or override their boundaries. Let them grow up feeling secure.
Your pediatrician has likely heard of this before. Ask him or her.
If your baby is so afraid of the vacuum to the point that they seem traumatized and you have tried everything, then it could be signs of an underlying nervous system issue.
Make an appointment to see your pediatrician and raise this concern with them for recommendations and any tests that need to be done for an adequate diagnosis.