Houston Parents Are Embracing the Baby Spa – And Here’s Why

06/13/2014 at 10:00 AM ET

Victoria was a fussy, colicky, preemie who never napped. “It was terrible,” says her mom, 30-year-old hat designer Veronica Schiller.

Then a friend told her about Float Baby, a spa for newborns in Houston, Texas. On her first visit, the then 2-month-old happily floated in the baby water spa, then her mom wrapped her in a warm towel and gave her a 20-minute massage.

“She was super relaxed and calm,” says her mother. “Then she was starving. She drank the whole bottle — which is completely unusual. And as soon as she got home, she took a five-hour nap.”

After their successful first session, Schiller started taking her daughter once a week for a month, eventually moving up to twice a week.

Float Baby Baby Spa HoustonCourtesy Float Baby

“My husband loves that she’s calmer and I’m not freaking out. I have time to shower for a change. It’s just great,” says Schiller.

So what exactly is a baby spa? The concept isn’t new according to owner Kristi Ison. “It’s [just] new to the U.S.,” she explains. “They’ve got baby spas in Malaysia, Singapore and the UK. A lot of other countries have embraced this.”

Ison started the business in her home in October — and it was so popular she opened the storefront in February. She’s since worked with almost 300 babies aged 2 weeks to 8 months.

Each spa session, which lasts about an hour and costs $65, starts with putting babies in a swim diaper, then fitting them with a (patent pending) double-circle flotation device to support their head and chin. “No portion of the ring touches the baby’s neck,” Ison says.

The float allows babies move their arms and legs in the water, while parents observe nearby for about 20 to 25 minutes. Afterwards, parents are led through a staff instructed 20-minute baby massage.

“Parents across the board tell me how much stronger their babies are, and how alert they are, and how soundly they’re sleeping and how much better they’re eating,” says Ison, who plans to open 10 more franchises across the U.S. in early 2015. “Parents leave just as happy and relaxed as their babies are.”

Well, that seems to be the case for stay-at-home mom Amanda Blackwell, who takes her 6-month-old daughter, Amelie, three or four times a week. She loves watching her daughter laughing and giggling as she kicks her legs in the water.

So, doesn’t it get expensive to go that often?

“Certainly not everyone could afford it. I’m lucky enough to be able to do it,” admits Blackwell.

“For me, how calm she is has been worth all the money in the world. As an adult, I love to go to the spa. Why don’t we teach our kids to enjoy touch and serene environments more? We stick them in chaotic environments like daycare or music class. Why not teach them to unwind?”

— Wendy Grossman Kantor

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Showing 29 comments

Xan on

What’s the point of the floating toys? The babes can’t reach them with those rings around their necks. Otherwise, cute idea. Lots of babies love to swim.

Wish all babies–not just those with well-off parents, had access to fun activities like this.

valeskas on

I wish I knew about this, when my daughter, was a baby, who cried all the time and I tried everything to calm her down at the end I cried with her. You can go there a few times, learn how its done, buy the floating device and than you can use your bathtub at home.

Mommytoane on

may not be a baby spaw, but open swim or swim lessons for babies are out there, which puts the baby in a relaxed state in the water. Plus theres always the idea of jumping in the tub with the baby, supporting him/her on your knees and allowing them to just relax, giggle and float a bit.

Anna W on

To Xan( the first commenter), the toys are not for the babies to grab, but for the parents to play with their child in the water. I have even bringing my daughter there for the past 3 months or so, and she loves to move around towards the toys, and it helps her move her legs and be stronger. She loved some of the toys so much that we bought some for her bathtime and that time has become so special for her daddy since that is “their bonding time”.

Page on

It seems fine though not practical, it costs quite some money and you need free time to take the baby to the spa unless you’re a housewife.

robinepowell on

If I had kids and they were cranky, then for sure I would. Who needs cranky kids.

Ala Lemon on

I’m going to be the negative one, but this seems to me like a baby work-out. Babies get to be freely active in the water, and then they get tired from playing in the water and the warm towel massage, so of course they’ll eat better, sleep better and get stronger. I’m not saying it’s a bad idea, I just wouldn’t call it a spa.

sophie on

We need a baby spa in Canada. Toronto to be specific. .

Venividivici on

In theory it’s a good idea, but it is expensive. I agree that you can get the same results on your own after one session.

BeenThere77 on

This is the dumbest thing ever. You’ll get the same results putting your kid in floaties playing in a pool for an hour giving your kid a massage and sticking a bottle in his or her mouth. We do it all the time in Fl.

Anonymous on

Are you kidding me? $65 an hour? I have 3 kids and used these floats (bought them for $10 online) in my own bath tub… kids loved it… not sure why would someone go somewhere and pay $65 though.

dsfkljlk on

These floats are $10 online, buy them and use them in your own bathtub… why go somewhere and pay $65 per hour?

Yo-Yo on

I don’t know if I like the idea of having a baby supported by just their head. Seems kind of dangerous to me.

Anonymous on

I think it’s a sweet but well, of course the baby is going to be tired if he’s splashing around in the water, and gets a massage afterwards. I’d think you get the same results of you would just go to a regular swimming pool and with your baby, and it’s much cheaper also 🙂

Say what??? on

Man, we have some serious first world “problems” in this country…lol

Say what??? on

@Xan: PLEASE, any moron could replicate this at their home.

christine426 on

i love this idea… it’s quite similar to the float experience in a sensory deprivation tank that gives the client the feeling of relaxation and meditation.

Anonymous on

Am I the only one that thinks this looks completely unsafe? The first thing I thought when I saw the picture was “oh my god, their head is going to slip through!” Why not just go to a pool so you can get in the water with your baby and HANG ON TO HIM?! This is ridiculous and an accident waiting to happen!

FelicityJune on

..again, money making at its best!!!

amanda on

I think its a bad idea to take your baby home and let it have a 5 hour nap just so you can shower! you wanted the kids so deal with all of it !!! instead spend 500 bucks a week on a spa ,,lol insane

Ru on

Sorry, but this freaks me out. Not for me.

Becky on

My niece took her baby boy to this class, I thought it was kind of strange and now that I know it cost $65 an hr, think it, I’m convinced it’s strange. .

Sara on

Seems weird, and is egregiously expensive.

Kal on

Its not safe once the spa flats and the airs are out.

Mar on

hey Amanda, If you had read the article you would have seen she was a colicky baby. if you’ve ever dealth with one you would know nothing calms them down nothing! so not only is it stressfull for the baby but for the parents also who can’t do anything to calm them down and help them out. my niece would cry for hours and nothing would help her out. so for a parent who has a colicky child that nap and that quick shower are heaven.

PSK on

My immediate reaction to this is that it seems unsafe. It seems to me that it’s a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Anonymous on

$65 for an hour, its expensive!

Anonymous on

Mar- Exactly! It also says that the baby was a preemie, and that can cause issues that stress the baby, too.

Anonymous on

And for everyone saying this is unsafe- if you look at pictures of the tubes (without the babies in them!) at the spa’s website, it’s fairly obvious that a baby’s head isn’t going to fit through the opening!