Now, a spa for babies where newborns to nine-month olds — can swim in warm water for being well and development. MUSBA HASHMI tells you how this trend in Hyderabad is all set to spread to other cities
From the massage wali didis to high-end spas and massage centres, these have been our go to options whenever one needs to relax and ease up on life. But, what if we tell you that the concept of spas has taken a step further and now it’s not merely restricted to adults but is also serving our tiny tots. Yes, you read it right. There is a baby spa based in Hyderabad that is taking care of their needs and help them ‘relax and unwind’ in a cosy and safe environment.
Launched in 2016, Yourbaby Spa is the country’s first such spa founded by a 34-year-old, Hyderabad-based engineer — Swathi Kolla who was so intrigued by this concept that she decided to leave her job and setup a baby spa. The idea struck Kolla while she was in London. It was then when she came to know about a baby spa being run by Laura Sevenus, who has been working for and with babies since 1967.
The aim is to provide free movement to the babies while they relax in water, which was not possible otherwise. This was called hydrotherapy. Keeping in mind the need for new-borns to have specialist hydrotherapy treatment for a range of benefits after it had been confirmed by a research that water calms babies. Kolla, a mother of a three-year-old boy decided to pay a visit to the spa and learn everything that there was to know.
She tells you that touch is a fundamental requirement for the survival of the new-borns. “On leaving the comfort of their mother’s womb, a new-born is stressed about this next phase of life. Massage can reduce stress, which is as important for babies as it is for adults. Regular massage helps babies adapt to their new environment and reassures them. There are four main benefits of massage for new-borns — interaction, stimulation, relief and relaxation. Besides these, bonding and secure attachment is promoted, pre-language communication skills develop between the parent and child. The positive touch instills feelings of love, respect and the sense of being valued,” she says and adds that a gentle massage to your infant by the neo-natal experts ensures that the pressure points are triggered, ample blood flow is received by all the parts of the body.
These soothing strokes on the baby’s body produce oxytocin, which we call the happy hormone. The only other time that a baby’s body generates oxytocin is when it is being fed by the mother or is being held close by her.
Coming up with a baby spa came with its share of challenges. “First, to find the ideal location and premises in keeping with the aim of creating a safe and peaceful haven. Second, it was difficult to convince the parents that the best time for their babies to attend spa is from birth. This way, their baby is never separated from being in water long enough for any fears to develop. Also, just after the birth a baby is unable to move much due to gravity and the disproportionate head weight. In water, babies have unrestricted movement and at the same time, their innate swimming reflexes can be honed and not lost or pruned away. Third, parents were not willing to entrust their just born, as little as two days old, in the hands of a stranger to experimenting with a concept new to the country, however, that was just until people understood the benefits of the experience. Once the parents saw how the babies were at ease in the pool and how the massage and hydrotherapy helped the little ones calm down, they could not wait to bring them back for the next session,” she tells you.
Now, when the spa is well-established, the only challenge is to find trusted partners in other cities for the franchise model. Baby spa is a concept that is very close to Kolla’s heart and she is willing to extend this opportunity only to those who are as passionate as her, if not more, about serving babies.
Talking about the process of hydrotherapy, Kolla explains: “The therapy uses water to assist in the enjoyment, relaxation and development of babies. With supervised expert attention, this practice strengthens muscles and bones used for movement due to the water’s resistance. Being fully immersed in warm water produces a sense of containment and security and the caress of water is soothing to babies especially when experiencing discomfort from colic, reflux or teething.”
The allocated duration is dependent on the sensory personality of each and every baby, bearing in mind that all babies are unique.
“A baby may only be able to tolerate five minutes of water stimulation for the first time, especially if there is any fear involved by parents. With regular attendance however, 30 minutes or more is often enjoyed by the babies,” she says and adds that there is no harm in daily attendance for the therapy however, from a practical view point, twice or thrice a week is recommended. Even fortnightly attendance is beneficial for babies.
There is no end for Kolla’s spa concept as she is looking forward to more advancements. “We are keen to introduce a re-designed flotation device for premature babies and we will also be extending our services for babies from birth to one year which till now was only for babies from birth to six months. This is something that is on my cards,” she says and tells you that the cost of one session is Rs 4,500.
Handling new-borns is not as easy as it seems but Kolla’s team of experts are a master of this job. “Massaging new-born babies can be a challenge for the inexperienced. Babies are sentient beings and must be respected in the same way any adult is. They may not want to be massaged at any particular moment therefore we must know how to read babies so that we are able to communicate and understand what they are trying to tell us. We must know what kind of touch is acceptable and what may be over stimulating or annoying. It is absolutely essential for our therapists to be sensitive, professional and well trained to be able to deliver the best to all the babies who attend our spa,” she says.
Last but not the least, the spa follows stringent safety measures to make sure it’s completely safe and reliable for the little ones. “Baby spa is a concept that has been tested and trusted across the globe. When it come to the safety in the administration of the therapy at our facility, then we can assure you that we only have trained neonatal experts, paediatricians, and child development specialists appointed at the facility to perform the therapy and massage sessions. It is completely safe. We have the best-in-class pods, pools, neck rings (Bubby’s) that is patented and has been certified as safe. For babies that are yet to be vaccinated, we have a separate pod to make sure they are not vulnerable to any infections, the water used in all the facilities are sterilised and automated filtered and the products are marked baby safe. In short, we give the new-borns nothing but the best, because that is what they deserve,” she tells you.