Newborn sessions are perfect for capturing the precious newness of your little one. Hiring a professional to document all their sweet features guarantees that as their soft new skin, tiny fingers and toes, and chubby cheeks disappear with age they won’t disappear from memory. If you’ve never observed a newborn session, you probably aren’t familiar with all the ins and outs but the more prepared you are, the more successful and enjoyable the session will be. Read on for the lowdown on what to expect…
Once you choose a newborn photographer, you’ll want to contact them as soon as possible to get on their calendar. Booking far in advance ensures that they will still have the flexibility of schedule to get you in about a week after your baby decides to make his or her appearance.
I have an in-home studio with a huge bay window that provides awesome natural light but I am also happy to come to you - I understand how intimidating it can be to get out of the house with a week-old baby! Just let me know in advance what you prefer so I can know what to plan for.
I’m a very sentimental person so I always encourage my newborn clients to bring any meaningful items with them that they want to incorporate into the session – their own baby blankets, a cute hat Great Aunt Margaret knitted for baby, or other family heirlooms. It’s fun to use these things to make the photos just that much more special for the parents.
Newborn sessions will ideally occur when baby is about 7 days old, while they are still very sleepy and flexible and before they become too alert. However, special circumstances, such as a NICU stay, may make it necessary for a session to be pushed to several weeks after birth, which is totally fine. The most important part of a newborn session is doing whatever works best for both mom and baby.
I normally schedule newborns for morning sessions since I have found that they are still pretty sleepy and content during that time of day. They haven’t had time to get good and awake yet so they are more likely to be able to settle down and get comfortable in the different poses we will try.
People are sometimes surprised to learn that newborn sessions last 2-3 hours but that time is necessary for all the feeding, soothing, posing, and repositioning that is involved. I usually try to get in 4-5 different poses and setups to provide a wide variety of shots to choose from in the end. If mom and dad want to be in some photos with baby I like to go ahead and get those out of the way at the beginning of the session because often dad may not be able to or want to stay for the entire session.
I do encourage mom to bring another support person – mother or mother-in-law, friend, or other close family member – to help her with holding and feeding baby during the session. However, in order to maintain a quiet, calm environment in the studio, it’s usually best to have no more than one extra person present other than mom and dad.
Because babies are most comfortable when they are nice and cozy, the studio will be very warm – too warm for most adults but just right to keep a naked baby happy – so I always ask my newborn clients to keep this in mind and dress appropriately.
I use the warmth of the studio and a sound machine to help baby fall asleep for the photos, but there are a few things mom and dad can do prior to the session to ensure that baby is ready to just conk out when it’s time:
If possible, keep baby awake for an hour before the session.
Give baby a bath prior to the session both to soothe baby and make his or her hair (if any) nice and fluffy.
Feed a small snack but wait until you arrive to give a full feeding so, when that belly gets full, baby will be ready to doze and we’ll be ready to get started.
Baby will usually be naked at least part of the session so I ask that mom loosens baby’s diaper and clothing at least 30 minutes prior to the session to give diaper lines time to fade.
Baby’s nose is fine-tuned to his or her own mother’s scent so it may be necessary at some point for mom to step out of the room if baby is becoming agitated at being able to smell mom but not get to her.
Finally, the most important thing I can tell you about a newborn session is: RELAX! Getting baby calm and positioned takes time and a lot of patience. If baby gets fussy, don’t freak out! Babies can sense stress and it will make it even more difficult for them to settle down if you’re not calm yourself. We will have plenty of time to work around a fussy spell. So, take a deep breath and relax, mom – I’ve gotcha covered!