Karalee Katsambanis: Baby spas the latest craze in marketing baby products

Even babies born a second before midnight must be included in the census.
Even babies born a second before midnight must be included in the census. 

A trip to a baby spa at four days old? Give me a break. Surely it must be more a case of laughing all the way to the bank for the spa owners who have come up with this idea?

First of all, if a new mum can actually mobilise herself and be thinking straight enough to take her four day old to a baby spa good luck to her.

However, I like to think that my reaction - and that of so many of my mum friends across Perth - to the latest craze to hit Perth is completely normal.

A baby Spa? What? What on earth do you need it for?

Four days after having a baby, even without any complications, most women are still trying to get their baby feeding right and recover from the trauma of the birth. There would be very few people thinking about a visit to a baby Spa - let alone for $85.

There's a well-worn saying that when it comes to weddings, 'just add a zero' to the end of each item to be purchased. That nicely arranged bunch of $25 roses suddenly becomes a 'wedding bouquet' worth up to $250.

It is exactly the same when it comes to having a baby. People seemed to be prepared to pay a much higher price or buy unnecessary things just to be seen to be 'doing the right thing'. It is like a baby version of keeping up with the Joneses.

And so Australia's first baby spa will open in Perth exclusively for infants aged from two days to six months.

One of the spa owners says "it helps digestion, colic, muscle development and cardiovascular…and it reminds them of being in the womb".


As a mum of three younger kids, I hope I can put the minds of new mums at ease.

Small business is terrific and this is a very cute idea but it is evidently targeted to a niche market. So do not beat yourself up if you never ever go, or can't afford to go. Believe me, your child will not be missing out.

Most women I have talked to don't even want to get out of bed four days after giving birth, let along trudge out to a spa.

If you do get to visit the baby spa you will have an option of a small neonatal pod or a large filtered spa depending on the age of the baby. There are also hydrotherapy sessions followed by a gentle massage.

While the warm waters of the baby spa are meant to mimic life in the womb according to the owner, I seem to remember that a warm bath with a squirt of bubbles and some chatter to baby also stopped any crying too.

Like most babies, my kids suffered some colic and reflux. Concerned parents often visit and revisit doctors who reassure us that these things are completely normal and in almost all cases just resolve themselves.  As for muscle or cardiovascular development, give me a break. These things happen naturally as kids grow. Just ask any GP - a polite smile should give you the hint that this is, like many baby products, just terrific marketing.

Think of generations before who DIDN'T have padded supermarket trolley seats, toys in cars, BPA-free water bottles, organic cotton this and organically grown that.

Most of these labels are designed to exert subtle pressure on the new parent to do more for your new bundle of joy because if you don't, you might deprive your child of something.

Clever marketing of anything 'baby' to new parents is literally money for jam for the marketers.

Having been through it, I should know. A few years ago, amber teething necklaces were billed by many new parents as the best thing since sliced bread.

Despite no scientific evidence to back up any claims, the necklaces promise to offer teething relief to parents who may be at their wits end with the tears that come with the normal teething process.

But what the marketing doesn't tell you is that in 2011 the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission and Product Safety Australia issued a statement that the necklace can pose serious potential hazards from strangulation and choking.

University of Auckland Professor Allan Blackman who has assessed the necklaces clearly states that "amber does contain succinic acid but … you would have to heat it to at least 200C to get it out of the amber and into your baby's blood stream which is not going to happen when baby's temperature is 36.9C. In layman's terms it's extraordinarily unlikely, it's snake oil".

Now, people are free to believe what they want. There will always be a cohort of people who will believe whatever they want to, despite evidence to the contrary.

But as one mum to another, if you are still in your pyjamas two weeks after the birth of your baby, you are normal. Like the rest of us, as a new mum you will still be wondering what has hit you in the first weeks after childbirth where you do not know what time it is, what day it is or where time has gone.

If anyone needs a spa treatment, it's not the baby – it is the mum!

If you, the mum, received a voucher for Mother's Day be sure to take advantage of that for yourself when you can.

But reality probably means that with the constant juggle of parenthood you are probably wondering how on earth you will ever get the time to go. That is the reality of being a Mum.

Karalee Katsambanis is a mother-of-three and a journalist for more than 20 years. Listen to her on 6PR's PerthTonight with Chris Ilsley between 9pm-10pm on Mondays.