Recently, at a friend’s engagement party, another guest was telling me the details of her son’s birth within minutes of our meeting, and then that at first he only slept in 40-minute instalments and had to be strapped to her chest 24/7. She then whipped out her iPhone and showed me a video of her baby James gurgling gleefully, bobbing around what looked like a Jacuzzi. “He’s a completely different baby now,” she cooed, “I’ve been taking him to the Baby Spa.”
Two magic words. Baby Spa. It didn’t matter that my eight-week-old (Plum) hated bath-time, I was in.
Located off Kensington Church Street, the Baby Spa is well placed. Crucially, it has the air of a grown-up spa but with everything a new mother might need, from bottle warmers to breast-feeding cushions, on hand.
Plum’s session begins with a 15-minute float in purified water. Every measure is taken to ensure the water and the room is the perfect temperature for babies aged from four days to six months (wear a T-shirt, it’s hot), with surfaces covered in soft fluffy towelling.
Laura Sevenus, who runs the spa, has been handling newborns for more than 40 years and is an expert in infant swimming. Working with babies is her vocation and she assures me that although Plum is of a nervy disposition, once in the water, she will be able to tap into her innate swim senses and embrace the freedom that comes with weightlessness.
At first, as I feared, Plum protested about wearing the special collar designed to keep her head above water and squealed when Laura gently lowered her into the water, but by talking to Plum, holding her hand and keeping my cool, Plum’s temperament quickly changed. Within minutes she was completely at ease, in a state of almost nirvana, curiously wiggling her way around the pool. Witnessing my baby exploring her watery surroundings with such confidence was remarkable and intensely gratifying.
When her time was up, one of Laura’s assistants swiftly removed Plum’s collar and swim nappy, swept her up into a heated towel and started massaging organic grapeseed oil into her legs, arms and back. Looking on, I found the whole experience fascinating and when other babies came in for their dips, I was intrigued to see how they reacted to the pampering. After multiple visits, I’d estimate that 90 per cent of babies take to it like ducks to water, while for more sensitive babies, it is crucial to time their sessions so that they aren’t tired or hungry.
Laura has a track record of helping babies with all kinds of malaises from clicky hips and chronic colic to cerebral palsy with some incredible results, and the benefits of exercising in the water are plain to see. Following regular sessions, I’ve noticed Plum’s digestion dramatically improve (she suffered from reflux) and her coordination appears to be quite advanced for her age. Plus, call it a coincidence but after just three visits, Plum started sleeping through the night – and I don’t know many other babies who can manage 12 straight hours. But most precious of all, each week, I get to spend a few hours having real fun one-on-one with my baby, and when you’re locked into what can often feel like a life sentence of parental drudgery, that is truly priceless. Baby Spa, 6 Lancer Square Kensington Church Street, www.yourbabyspa.com