The Hands that Soothe the Cradle: Baby Spas

ByABC News

Dec. 2, 2006 — -- No wonder babies cry: Long, hard days filled with the stress of sleeping, eating and answering nature's call can wear down even the most mild-mannered of infants -- so even babies need time to relax every now and again.

There's good news for parents looking for ways to help their little ones unwind. Moms and dads across the country can now take their babies to spas specializing in infant care.

These spas baby babies and pamper those who wear Pampers. There are now hundreds of baby spas across the country fueling an $11 billion a year industry.

Some of them offer services as lavish and decadent as adult spas, but they maintain an atmosphere that is all about the babies.

"We offer over 25 different services, ranging from baby massage, baby yoga, baby sign language, brain awakening through classical music [and] baby chakra chi," said Jonathan Baker, the owner of Skin Spa Baby in Encino, Calif., a suburb of Los Angeles. "It's aligning the baby's chakras through warm towels. We play a trance-type of music. We take warm towels. We place them on the chakras and we bring them to a calmness."

At the Play 2 Grow spa in Atlanta, mothers rub canola oil into their babies' skin, while a string quartet's music plays under a canopy of tiny blinking lights.

These infant nirvanas aren't just geared towards rest and relaxation. Many offer services designed to stimulate babies, and to enhance their physical, mental and emotional development.

Play 2 Grow offers a variety of sensory activates, like rolling around in warm spaghetti, dry rice or a bunch of loofahs. The sessions, which run around $20 a pop, also include sessions specifically structured to improve babies' balance, like a workout that involves rolling around on an exercise ball.

The new services may be expensive, but parents say the benefits far outweigh the costs, as do those who are running the spas. Mark Castelo of Play 2 Grow sees tangible developmental progress in his tiny clients.

"Our brains develop like the branches of a tree," Castelo said. "And experiences that are repeated, those branches become stronger and that becomes the base of how our brain is organized."

Combine those cognitive benefits with the sheer bliss of a relaxing day at the spa for baby and the result is a booming business, guaranteed to keep parents sending their children to get pampered.

Of course, there is an added benefit: Mom and dad get some time off as well.

ABC News' Hari Sreenivasan reported this story for "Nightline," and Jared Wiener also contributed.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events