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Relaxing or damaging? The pros and cons of baby spas

Spa treatments aren't just for frazzled parents — now your babies can be pampered too! But is going to a baby spa really a good idea?

All moms love to pamper our little ones. What better way to do so than with a mini-me version of spa treatments, our own favourite way to be pampered? Introducing the baby spa!

Baby spa treatments are trendy right now, and we've seen a boom in baby spa outlets all over Singapore. From floating in a warm bath to gentle massages, these spas offer all your baby needs to zen out.

baby spa

Advocates say that baby spa treatments offer a whole range of amazing benefits for bubs. On its website, Baby Spa Perth claims that hydrotherapy can develop babies' muscular and skeletal system, while baby massages stimulate their digestive systems to reduce constipation.

However, baby spa treatments also have their fair share of detractors. Your bubs may look adorable bopping about in the water. But some experts say, hydrotherapy may actually create emotional and physical stress for them.

The jury's still out on whether you should give your baby spa treatments. If you're thinking of getting this pampering treat for your little ones, we've put together some expert-backed pros and cons for you.

Baby spa treatments: Yes or no?

Pros:

Water therapy accelerates growth

A clinical study of neonatal swimming, or water therapy, showed that swimming accelerated babies' development in their earliest stages. Paddling about in a spa bath isn't just fun — your little one may be getting a growth boost.

Baby swimmers have better coordination

Not only do baby swimmers have better balance, they are better at grasping things, according to research.

Though hydrotherapy baths in baby spas don't involve swimming per se, bobbing about in the water is age-appropriate for very young tots. It can help prepare your little ones for future exercises!

Massaged babies fuss less

baby spa

A soothing massage with warm oil or moisturizer can help fussy babies cry less and sleep better. If your bub is keeping you up at night with wailing, a pampering session may do the trick!

Swimming boosts cognitive development

Swimmers have more advanced cognitive abilities than non-swimmers, demonstrated a groundbreaking swim study of children aged five and below. The little swimmers studied were "anywhere from 6-15 months ahead" for maths problem-solving, language, and following instructions.

They say it's never too early to get a headstart. Hydrotherapy can be a great way to introduce your bubs to the pool.

Baby massages relief colic

baby spa

Many studies have shown that massage treatments help ease the symptoms of colic. Colic results from trapped gas in the stomach, and massages can stimulate the digestive system to reduce pain for your little one.

Massages may reduce jaundice

Research indicates possible links between baby massages and reduction of jaundice symptoms. However, phototherapy is still essential — massages simply speed up your infant's recovery.

Cons:

Massages damage babies' sense of boundaries

baby spa

At a baby spa massage, your baby is essentially being touched intimately by strangers. This can be "very, very damaging" for tots, according to Sylvie Hetu, an experienced trainer with the International Association of Infant Massage.

"When we take the baby to be massaged by a stranger, we are teaching the baby that he can be touched by anyone he doesn't know in an intimate way, and that is bad imprinting," she states. This early lesson can impact babies for the rest of their lives.

Instead, she says, parents should learn to give their bubs massages at home. Your little one may also feel more relaxed at home than in a strange environment. 

Floating feels isolating

We previously talked about an important report released by swimming expert bodies STA and Birthlight, detailing the harmful effects of baby spas. According to the report, those neck rings that keep your bubs afloat in the hydro-bath also create a troubling "vacuum" for them.

Author of the report and child swimming tutor Shawn Tomlinson explains, “A neck ring creates a vacuum where the baby is incapacitated and cannot connect with anyone or anything... Self-expression through body language, which the water ideally facilitates, is lost because movements are restricted.”

Though being in our little bubble away from the world sounds relaxing for us, it can be terrifying for bubs. Instead, what swimming babies need is the touch and support of mom and dad.

Neck rings affect head and neck control

baby spa

In the same report, the researchers also pointed out the problem of neck support for babies in the bath. Development of head and neck control may be delayed for babies who experience hydrotherapy too often. This is because the neck ring may put strain on their ligaments and muscles.

For babies over 3 months, the experts warn, the neck ring may even interfere with the head reflex that helps babies sit up and support their head.

Parents, what do you think? There's no final verdict yet on whether a baby spa can do more to help or harm babies. As with everything we give our little ones, moderation is best! Whether or not you plan to pamper your bubs with this,

ALSO READ: Baby spas are cute and trendy, but could they be hurting your baby?

Republished with permission from: theAsianParent Singapore