You’ve heard of a spa day for moms, and if you’re a new mom, you’re probably craving one. What you probably haven’t heard of is a spa for your baby - but it sure does exist.
Businesses are beginning to crop up around the world around the premise of offering ‘baby hydrotherapy,’ or water therapy, to the littlest members of your family. In Houston, Texas, there’s a facility called Float Baby that offers hydrotherapy and neonatal underwater massages, and Your Baby Spa has locations in Australia, South Africa and Spain.
The name is a bit misleading - although it’s called a baby spa, it’s a bit more like baby rehabilitation. Hydrotherapy has long been used as a means of mobility training for all sorts of circumstances. The goal is typically to help patients gain fuller movement and build strength in a low-impact environment where body weight and muscle development doesn’t significantly affect your ability to move around.
So is this service something your baby needs, or is it just another extraneous expense to pamper your babies created by people looking for ways to generate as much income as possible?
Who benefits from an infant spa?
When it comes to the necessity of baby spas, there are a lot of questions. The basic premise of using hydrotherapy to promote movement is rooted in a history of rehabilitative sciences, but the average infant isn’t in need of rehabilitative therapy. That’s not to say that no infant would need it, but at $65 a pop, the visits can add up if there’s no medical benefit to them.
On the other hand, there are some conditions that would cause an infant to require some form of therapy, and hydrotherapy provides an easy environment for anyone to gain full mobility. A medical spa in Utah offers just such a service and babies with hypotonia, or low muscle mass, will struggle to lift their heads, roll around and begin the first steps of gaining mobility. Aquatic therapy provides benefit for them by allowing them to practice repetitive movements and build up muscle strength in a low-impact environment, making it easier to perform the action out of the water over time. The water can help relax stiff muscles in a child struggling to complete particular movements, and it can provide sensations that help teach infants struggling with their physical senses learn how their bodies move.
There are some notable benefits of hydrotherapy for infants, which means the premise of a spa where your baby can swim, learn to float and stretch out her limbs is certainly based on some science. On the other hand, places labeled ‘spa’ typically come with a premium, whereas rehabilitation centers will have medical training to reassure you that your baby’s visits are providing a physical benefit, not just some early swimming lessons.
When it comes to picking the right place to bring your baby for water therapy, you want to talk to the staff members and managers to get a feel for the level of training and education at the facility. Ask about recommendations, and don’t be afraid to look up reviews online and visit multiple facilities before making a final decision.
What are the downsides of attending?
Although hydrotherapy certainly has its benefits, there are always risks associated with bringing an infant into the water before they know how to swim. Drowning is one of the leading causes of death for children under 4, which means you want to make sure the facility you attend is reputable and that your child has at least one pair of eyes on her every moment she’s in the water.
For the most part, though, your child probably will not drown in a baby spa. On the other hand, the experience itself may be little more than an expensive dip in a shallow pool for your baby, which means whether it’s actually worthwhile depends on what services they provide. Although getting in the water and learning to move around can benefit babies in their development, it’s not necessary by any means to go to a professional facility and shell out dozens of dollars a session to do it. If your baby could benefit from hydrotherapy for developmental reasons, consider looking into a baby spa or aqua therapy facility. If your baby is healthy and developing well, and you already have access to safety floaties and basic swimming training, you can forego the expensive spa visit for your child and book one for yourself instead. An infant spa is a nice idea, but you don’t need to break the bank to get the benefits.