If you’re a new mum with a crying baby I’ll bet you’d do almost anything for a good night’s sleep? Then you’ll be pleased to hear that Laura Sevenus, founder of Kensington’s The Baby Spa, may have the answer, as Jemima Boost finds out
Just off Kensington Church Street tucked away in a cobbled courtyard is The Baby Spa, a place where tots go to chill. On paper it might sound like any luxurious spa: plinky plonky music; fluffy white towels; a dimly-lit relaxation room and masseuses gliding around in crisp uniforms. But here the towels are the size of handkerchiefs, the relaxation room is decked out in tiny Stokke cots and the masseuses are busy changing their clients into waterproof nappies.
Laura Sevenus, 68, set up The Baby Spa five years ago following a career as a children’s swimming instructor. Knowing the benefits of water for children and realising that the sooner they could feel confident in it unaided by a parent the better, Laura and her husband – an engineer – invented the Bubby a doughnut-like flotation ring that gives babies the freedom to swim on their own by holding them up by their head and chin, keeping their mouth free of water.
Whispers of the magic of The Baby Spa had circulated around my NCT and mum and baby groups for several weeks. New mums flicked their freshly washed hair as they told me how their babies had slept through the night the first time they visited, others punched the air as they described how their colicky baby was calm again and almost best of all were the pictures they produced of their babes as they bobbed around nothing but a pair of cheeks floating on the water. So after 12 weeks of interrupted sleep and unwashed hair I’m ready to try anything
As physiotherapist Christina clipped the Bubby around my daughter Ottilie’s neck I can’t help but laugh, she looks hilarious but seems totally unphased by the contraption and as she’s as she’s lowered into the heated pool – filled with purified water and warmed to exactly 35.6 degrees – immediately starts kicking her legs as if swimming was the most natural thing in the world to her. Of course it is. Having spent nine months tumbling around in water while in the womb, this toasty pool can remind babies of their old homes. And even those who are only a few days old can benefit from a trip to The Baby Spa. For these babies and those who haven’t had their injections there are individual pools no bigger than a kitchen sink.
After calmly swimming around for several minutes, it’s off to the massage table for Ottilie. Using pure grapeseed oil, Christina’s firm strokes work out any tension and wind from her head to toe before flipping her over for tummy time and to work on her back. All the while Ottilie squeaks with happiness, although it’s difficult to know if that’s due to Christina’s smiley face or the actual massage itself – both perhaps.
The benefits of an hour session at The Baby Spa is two-fold. The hydrotherapy encourages mental and physical development of babies’ brains and muscles as they explore in the water with complete freedom. This can improve their balance and coordination, and in time help with the skills needed to swim, crawl and walk. The massage helps your baby’s muscles to relax and can also relieve colic, constipation and trapped wind, and of course the experience can help babies to sleep beautifully.
So did it live up to the hype? True to the rumours, the moment I pushed back Ottilie out onto Kensington Church Street her eyes surrendered and even if they hadn’t the picture of her in the Bubby is worth a visit alone.