FIRST THINGS FIRST: I AM NOT A MOTHER. I am the oldest of four, however, so I do have a particular set of mothering-ish skills. And I do like babies (when they're not in hysterics). Babies with chubby cheeks and the softest skin make for a great thing to coo at.
So when a video popped up on my Facebook feed of a baby floating with what looked like an inner tube attached around its head, it hit me right in the feels. It was weirdly adorable—if I could’ve given the video a Yelp review, it would have definitely gotten 5 stars. I had to see for myself, in real life, what this floating baby thing was all about.
I soon learned that Float Baby in Memorial is the first baby spa in the U.S. that specializes in floating and massaging techniques for infants from two weeks to six months old. The act of floating is said to benefit cognitive development and strengthen the respiratory and cardiovascular systems of a baby. People have brought their tots from as far as Aruba to try out the program. Even without a baby, I wanted to see what all the hype—and cute videos—were about.
Walking in, I found a relaxing environment, with walls covered in simple, chic subway tile decorated with black and white renderings of sea creatures. Classes are limited to three babies (four, in the case of twins) so three mothers and one grandmother have their babies lying on mats pressed up together to make a square. The babies are undressed and weighed before each is carefully outfitted with a floatation device attached around their neck by owner Kristi Ison.
There are three jet-infused tubs, so each float is a unique experience. The moms are encouraged to film, take photos and even FaceTime their child floating. Watching the babies aimlessly float around, their chubby cheeks resting on their head-floaties, they remind me of that one Cheerio you can’t seem to get on your spoon as they hit the sides of the tubs and get pushed back into the middle of the pool.
After floating for 20 minutes the babies are wrapped in a warm towel and they are taken back to the cushioned mats for an oil massage. Moms are guided on how to do the massage but also come to each other for advice. Ison shared the massage lesson live on Facebook for any interested moms at home to try, too. After the class, Ison explained to me that while the sessions help the children, she also believes they help the mothers share ideas and connect.
With talks of franchising (300 people have applied), she's hoping to get babies around the country floating in the near future. That sounds like great news for stressed-out infants, moms, and anyone who enjoys seeing giant baby heads bobbing serenely in a tub.