Take baby to a spa at your own risk

Take baby to a spa at your own risk
Do-it-yourself: Ms Hetu conducts an infant massage class at Orchard Grand Court Hotel. She warned that allowing a baby to be massaged by a stranger will teach the child that he can be touched by anyone in an intimate way.

SINGAPORE - To pamper their infants, some parents send them to baby spas.

Others show up for baby massage classes, with their maids in tow.

To such parents, a vastly experienced trainer with the International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM) has a stark message: No one should massage the baby other than a parent. Otherwise, the experience can be "very, very damaging" for the infant, said Sylvie Hetu, who has been teaching parents how to massage their infants for 31 years.

Baby spas have popped up in Singapore in the recent years offering massage services by trained staff, but Ms Hetu warned that this could actually harm a baby in the long term.

"When we take the baby to be massaged by a stranger, we are teaching the baby that he can be touched by anyone he doesn't know in an intimate way, and that is bad imprinting," she said during an interview with My Paper.

She emphasised that this will have an effect on the baby for the rest of his life.

At IAIM, parents and instructors are taught that the parents should be the ones touching their child.

"This is the modern culture of getting a service. However, the baby is not a car... Massage is very intimate so they must have that activity with people they have a trusting relationship with," said Ms Hetu, 59.

Designed for infants under the age of one, IAIM's class teaches parents the steps to gently stroke their child in five sessions and encourages them to massage the baby for 15 to 20 minutes daily.

Trained IAIM instructor Catherine Chua, who conducts baby massage classes at KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH), noted that some of the participants initially show up with relatives or maids, unaware of the guideline.

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