The minute you saw your baby, you fell head over heels in love. Those chipmunk cheeks, wrinkly hands, and their tiny little body have filled your heart with so much joy. You keep trying to memorize every detail before they get bigger – their sweet smell, the way they smile when they’re sleeping, the grunts, and the feel of their hands grasping your fingers. You want to remember every minute of these special days for the rest of your life.
As a new parent, you finally understand why other parents tell you to cherish these first weeks. Your child will grow so quickly. It won’t be long before they transition to a toddler, and you’ll be struggling to remember how soft their skin was, and how their sleepy head seemed to fit perfectly on your shoulder as you rocked them to sleep. That’s where newborn photo sessions come in handy – preserving these precious, fleeting days.
Your newborn’s photography session should be an exciting time for your family. But parents often find themselves worried and anxious about preparing themselves and their babies for the big occasion. With a little planning, you can relax and enjoy the session, knowing all your bases are covered. Years from now, you’ll be glad you booked a newborn photo session so you can stroll back in time to the days when you didn’t have to share your child with the rest of the world.
Follow our top five tips to make sure you and your baby have a great session that documents this special time in your lives.
SCHEDULE YOUR SESSION AHEAD OF TIME
Most photographers will only do newborn sessions when infants are between 5 to 14 days old. That’s a small window of time, so you need to be thinking ahead!
By scheduling in advance, you and your photographer will be prepared for when your baby decides to make its grand entrance.
Also, scheduling your session ahead of time will make it less likely that your photographer will be fully booked when you call. Waiting until the last minute to schedule your session might mean you won’t get your preferred photographer, and you’ll be stuck shopping based on availability instead of finding a professional who fits your preferred style.
A good time to start the booking process is around your second trimester. Reach out to the photographer you want and tell them your due date (and answer any other questions they might have). Then, once your sweet baby is born, let your photographer know the exciting news, and you’ll get an exact date for your session.
KEEP YOUR BABY AWAKE BEFORE THE SESSION
It’s no secret that infants sleep a lot. But sometimes, their sleep patterns don’t cooperate with our plans. If you want your little one sacked out during the photo session, so you can get those adorable sleepy newborn poses, keep them up for a while before your photographer arrives.
Making sure you keep your baby awake prior to a session is a great way to guarantee they will sleep through most of it. That will lead to peaceful pictures, instead of ones where they look enraged or red-faced from crying.
FEED YOUR BABY 20-30 MINUTES BEFORE YOUR SESSION
What’s cuter than a milk-drunk infant? (Hint: the answer is nothing!).
Newborns are some of the hungriest creatures on this Earth. You don’t want their photo session disrupted by their frantic cries for milk. Feeding and burping your infant right before your newborn photo session begins means less crying, better sleep, and relaxed parents (and photographer!).
Avoid giving them a full meal in the one to two hours before your session. If they seem hungry, try to give them a small snack to get them through. Then, slightly before your session, you can feed them a full meal and expect a happy, tired baby in return.
Most photo sessions last around two hours, which leaves plenty of time to refuel if your child wakes up expecting a snack. Just make sure to have an extra bottle on hand if you use formula.
UNDRESS TO IMPRESS
About 30 minutes before the session, change your baby’s diaper into a loose (but not too loose), clean diaper and swaddle them. Since most photographers prefer babies to be naked during their session, undressing them beforehand is a timesaver. It also means you won’t disrupt their sleep cycle by trying to get their onesie off. A loose diaper is best because it will avoid creating diaper marks around their waist.
A great way to do this without waking them up once they’ve fallen asleep is to change their diaper, swaddle, and then feed them. You’ll be taking care of everything at once. By breastfeeding (or bottle-feeding), they’ll be able to calm down quickly, and most likely fall asleep immediately after (if not during) their eating time.
Are you worried your newborn is going to get cold? Keep them swaddled until your photographer arrives. They’ll be able to advise you on the next steps before they start taking pictures.
SIT BACK AND WATCH
This one’s for you, Mama.
Your photographer knows what they’re doing. Let them run the show. As a mother, you may have that innate urge to pick your child up with every grunt they make, and it can be hard to see someone else handling them. This is why it’s important to find a professional newborn photographer with experience and positive reviews.
Photographers know how much your infant means to you, and they are treated accordingly. Any experienced newborn photographer will know exactly what positions will be comfortable for your child and how to move them delicately so they won’t wake up.
Your photographer should be used to working with worried parents and will know how to put you at ease. However, if at any point during the session you start to feel uncomfortable, make sure to let your photographer know. It’s just as important for you to feel comfortable as it is for your little one.
Also, try not to stress if your tot is being fussy. Babies can feel their mama’s stress or tension, so if you’re calm, your infant may relax too.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
To prepare for fussy moments, you’ll want to have a few things ready — a pacifier, a bottle of formula/breastmilk, a swaddling blanket, and a few clean diapers. If nothing seems to be working to calm your bundle of joy, ask for a break in your session while you try to get things under control.
A few other things you should keep in mind when it comes to your baby’s newborn session are:
• Most photographers include props, but if there is something in particular you want your photographer to include, let them know.
• Try to keep the volume down to maintain a calm environment. When you get overwhelmed, you and your baby can both feel it. Staying relaxed and quiet will ensure a calm atmosphere.
• Make sure you come prepared to be in a few of the photos. You may not be feeling like a supermodel quite yet, but getting in the photos with your infant will create some lasting memories you’ll both treasure.
• Wear neutral colors like creams, mild tones, and soft hues for intimate portraits.
• It’s best to avoid chunky jewelry and watches, which can be distracting elements and will look dated years from now. Strive for timeless photos that will be staples in your home for decades to come.
• If you want to capture your entire family with your newest addition, the best time to do so is toward the end of the session. Consider having the rest of your family show up at the end, so the noise level from the extra people doesn’t disturb your baby.
To read about more tips for your session, read on.
DRINK IT IN
It can be tough for moms to relinquish their caregiver role, even for an hour or two as newborn photos are being taken. However, take advantage of this time. It’s a much-needed mini-break for you. Unlike a maternity photo session, your newborn photo op is all about your baby. You can spend it watching an expert who excels at their craft, and possibly learn some photography tips while you’re at it.
Years from now, when your son towers over you, or your daughter raids your closet, your keepsake photos will remind you of those precious days when they were still little enough for you to carry in your arms.