Monday, May 4, 2009

The Tummy Tub


It was bath time for more than a half dozen babies, and not one of them was crying or complaining. That’s because they were too busy discovering the joys of the Tummy Tub, a bathtub for infants that has made a big splash in Europe and has finally found its way to America.
“It’s designed to mimic the mother’s womb,” Janis McKellar told TODAY’s Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira and Ann Curry Friday in New York. As she spoke, her 14-month old son, John, sat serenely in his Tummy Tub, flanked by other parents and their babies, who seemed delighted to be bathing in warm water while curled up in fetal position.
Tale of a tub McKellar — who was joined in Studio 1A by her husband, Brent — was expecting her fourth child in November 2007 when she first set about finding a better way to bathe a baby than the standard tubs she had been using. What she discovered not only filled her requirements — it filled up her basement, too.
She found the Tummy Tub, an infant’s bath that looks like a see-through cross between a bucket and a flowerpot. Invented in the Netherlands, it holds an infant in the fetal position, just like in mommy’s tummy. Strangely enough, she found that this trendy infant-care product was not sold in the United States. “They’ve been used in Europe since 1996,” McKellar told TODAY.“They’re used in most countries around the world. The United States is one of the last countries to hear about the Tummy Tub.”

McKellar found the product by doing an online search for baby bathtubs. She bought hers from a dealer in Canada. She liked it so much, she decided to get more to give to friends with infants and as gifts at baby showers. But the Canadian source went out of business and she found herself forced to buy 20 at a time from the manufacturer in Germany.
If she was going to have to buy that many, she decided, she’d buy a lot and become the sole distributor in the United States. That’s how her basement came to be filled with Tummy Tubs and other infant-care products. She sells them through her Web site,
“I was looking for a washtub that would keep my baby warm,” McKellar said. “I did an online search and the Tummy Tub popped up. But I couldn’t find anyone who sells them in the United States.”
The tub is made of nontoxic materials and has a low center of gravity, so it doesn’t tip over. It requires much less water than traditional infant tubs, she said, and because it has a small surface area, the water stays warm longer.
Unfortunately I did not get to interview this entrepreneur because I have a few questions. If anyone out there has the answers, please let me know!
I really like the concept of this tub, but do you have to wait until the baby is 5-6 months and close to sitting up to use it? If it was a new born that couldn't keep his head up it looks like it would be a drowning hazard. And how in the world do you clean the cracks between baby fat in the lower thighs and buttocks when the child is all squashed like that?
I love that the tub stays warmer longer and it's more comfortable for baby. I am just wondering how long the baby would fit in it and whether you would really be getting the baby clean. What do you think?
-NewsAnchorMom Jen
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