My Top 10 Tips For Newborn Sessions
After 5 years as a newborn photographer, I’ve learned a few important tricks to ensure a happy, sleepy baby. Follow these simple steps to a more beautiful newborn portrait experience. You won't regret it! Let's Count down this time around....
Wake the sleeping baby! Babies need food! If your newborn sleeps longer through the night, the next morning is spent making up for lost calories. We get it. You would trade your left arm for a good night’s rest that first week. However, the night before your first newborn photography session is not the night. So forgo the zzz’s, set an alarm, and keep your sweet babe fed through the night.
9. Speaking of food… Provide a full feeding before the session that sends your baby straight into dreamland. Make sure baby arrives to your session with a full belly! We always mention to mom not to rush through this feeding. Some babies need a full 45 minutes, and that’s OK. If you are pumping or bottle feeding at all, supplement the day of your session. Some of our moms visit us so soon after their baby is born, they are still waiting for their milk to fully come in. The average time is 7 days for a full milk supply. But I’ve known many to take as long as 12. We encourage all sources of food right before the session.
8. No immunizations within 48 hours. Be sure to schedule your session at least two days AFTER immunizations. Many babies have a reaction to shots that can cause grumpy behavior for up to 48 hours afterwards.
7. Get ready at the studio. Pack yourself a bag the night before of everything you will need for yourself to get picture ready. In my newborn photography studio, we always start the session with baby, which gives mom plenty of time to rest and then prep to be camera ready.
6. Pack the baby bag. Make sure you have all the essentials in your baby bag packed up the night before and ready to grab-and-go. I can’t speak for all newborn photographers, but in my studio, you’ll just need the basics. We have all the swaddles, blankets, headbands, hats and more, that you’ll ever need. We also keep our studio stocked with newborn diapers, wipes, a changing table, and hot & warm water (for bottles). Regardless of who photograph’s your baby, you’ll want all of the above, plus:
Extra food (formula or pumped milk)
A cozy change of clothes for the ride home
When possible, leave mother’s little helper at home until it’s time for their part of the session. For our studio, we always photograph family and siblings in the last 45 minutes of a 3-hour session.
5. A mother’s helper. When possible, have a grandparent, nanny or even your spouse bring siblings later during the session. I always start with our star subject and finish the session with siblings and family portraits. While my studio is very child friendly, there is about a 2-hour gap. That’s a lot of entertaining! Many of our moms take advantage of this much-needed quiet time while we photograph her baby and someone else has the older kids.
4. Your morning routine matters. The morning of your session sets the stage for a smooth newborn portrait experience. There are really just a few important pieces:
Be sure baby is well fed before arriving to your session.
Mom, we’re sorry, but skip the caffeine. In fact, forgoing most caffeine a day or two before the session is ideal. We get it. Just do your best. If you just can’t, try adding extra hot water to your morning cup to dilute it.
Pack everything and shower the night before. It goes without saying that having less to do just helps.
Morning shoots only, please. I always photograph newborns in the morning. In my experience, afternoon sessions are always more stressful. A newborn in the afternoon is less likely to fall into a deep slumber, they tend to be more hungry, often fall into an inconsolable witching hour, and want to be held for longer stretches. But oh the morning. Such delightful little people in the early hour.
2. Two weeks and under. Newborns don’t keep! So be sure to photograph your new baby between 7-16 days old (up to a little over two weeks). A true newborn still behaves as though they are in the womb. They sleep, wish to be bundled up nice and tight, and prefer to be warm. Most importantly, they still have womb-like flexibility, which only lasts the first couple of weeks after birth. After this point, they lose flexibility and digestion begins to mature causing a slightly more alert and wakeful baby, not to mention stomach discomfort. You might not notice this at home. But photographers must position and reposition the baby many times during a session. And older babies don’t take to this as kindly.
1. Preparing yourself for your session There are a few things I do to help your little one out and set the stage for a peaceful session:
I Warm the studio to around 80 degrees or use a safe space heater in the areas I will be shooting. So be sure to arrive in comfortable clothing to allow for this temperature.
I pull all items being used prior to the session to allow for them to be fully sanitized and organized prior to your arrival, if there is something specific you'd like to have or use that you've seen me use in the past, be sure to mention this to me prior to our session.
Bring a snack for yourself, these sessions can be lengthy, why get uncomfortable and hungry, relax and snack while you wait. I do have water and a few snacks just in case you forget. (wink)
Prep young siblings about the new, fun photographer you are visiting to take pretty photos. We recommend keeping the conversation focused on them and not the new baby.
Get ready for your newborn photography session with our printable prep guide delivered straight to your inbox a few days prior to your session!