At Houston’s tot-friendly haven for relaxation, Float Baby, ‘pamper’ means much more than a diaper brand. Privileged little ones at the “spa” are treated to a 20-minute hydrotherapy session, where they are free to move their limbs in the water, immediately followed by an instructor-led neonatal massage from a parent using a custom blend of organic, cold-pressed oils with vitamins. Terry-fringed towels made of cotton from the Cukurova region of Turkey are on-hand to gently wrap up each baby. Priced at $65 per 60-minute session, lucky infants in Houston can now indulge just like grown-ups.
“Water has been used therapeutically on adults for so many years,” says Float Baby owner Kristi Ison. “Why would we limit it to just adults and not babies?”
During each float session, infants wear a specially designed, patented flotation device around their necks that allows a secure fit for their small size. The water, which is kept anywhere between 95 and 98 degrees Fahrenheit, is purified through an ozone system. Each baby bathes in a fresh water tub that is disinfected prior to each session. For babies who prefer tub-time solo, private sessions are available for $150 during the week and $195 on the weekend.
While Float Baby has been referred to as a playful “spa for babies,” its main focus is to expose babies to the benefits of water therapy. Research cited by Ison suggests that some of the benefits of having your baby unwind in a warm water bath include increased muscular and skeletal power, strengthened respiratory system and increased cognitive development, among others. The full-body massage can help stimulate a baby’s immune system and alleviate digestive issues.
The special two-part float and massage program is best suited for babies aged 2 weeks to 6 months, though special requests can be made for babies beyond 6 months. “The earlier we get them, the more natural of an environment it is for them,” Ison explains. “They just came out of warm fluid and to go back into it, they really adapt well to the program early on.” According to Ison, the water helps babies utilize their entire bodies almost from day one, which is extremely beneficial due to the lack of independent physical movement before they begin crawling.
As with all treatment programs, not all babies will react the same way; parents should use their best judgment prior to enrolling their infant. According to the Physical Therapy Assistant and Aquatics Leader at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA), Amie Eshraghi, some children may not enjoy the therapy’s sensory component, the pressure against their bodies and/or the coolness or warmth of the water. Eshraghi, who has over 15 years of experience in aquatic therapy for children, suggests that parents take necessary precautions, such as ensuring their baby does not have any open lesions on their skin prior to being submerged in the water and making sure their baby’s core body temperature remains at the proper level.
“I would have that open communication with the pediatrician,” says Eshraghi. “They may not need a doctor’s order, but if a mom asked me if their child with no medical history should engage, I would say, talk it over with your pediatrician.” Eshraghi continues, “It looks great, it’s like, ‘Aw, I want to be in that water.’ There are just different questions, and I asked different people here [at CHOA] who do not know aquatic [therapy], and most of them said they would talk to their doctor first.”
Owner Ison is prepared to answer parent’s questions regarding the benefits and research supporting water therapy for babies. With new clients, Ison makes sure parents feel comfortable with the way the flotation device fits their baby and is present to answer questions throughout the supervised session.
The concept of a spa-like environment for babies is new to the U.S., but already exists elsewhere, like in the U.K. The company has plans to expand out of Texas, which means chubby-cheeked cherubs in other key cities in America will have the chance to enjoy the benefits of water therapy—and look adorable while doing it.