Newborn Photography for Older Babies

Older Newborn Photography

If you’re an expectant parent or a brand new one, and have been doing your research on newborn photography, you might have noticed that almost all newborn photographers recommend that your newborn session be held within a very short time frame after baby’s birth.  The general recommendation is that newborns be photographed within the first 10 or so days of life.  But what about if your little one is already past that time frame, age-wise?  Is it too late for your older newborn to be posed and photographed in those sweet poses that define newborn photography?  Nope!  Let’s talk about it!

Sleeping beauty newborn photography in magical green garden in San Diego, CA

The ideal time for a newborn photography session in my professional (and mommy) opinion is between days 5-8.  This is not a magic number, but in my years of experience photographing infant babies, this is an overall good time frame.  By 5-8 days, new parents are able to have been home with their new babies for a few days to get adjusted as a new family, and for newborns that are breastfed, this gives mom and baby a few days for mommy’s milk to come in and for baby to adjust to feeding.  Earlier is fine, and later is fine, but this 5-8 day window is my personal preference.  However, there are tons of reasons why newborns might not be able to get to the studio within those first 10 days of life.
– Perhaps newborn photography was not on the radar during pregnancy and the first few days after birth, and suddenly, the realization that babies grow and change daily appears, and the need to schedule a session comes fast.
– Newborns that need to spend some time in the NICU or under UV lights in the nursery for a few days or weeks after birth might be coming home and finally ready for their session.
– Newborns through adoption might need to wait until the process is finalized before being able to come in for a photography session.
– A newborn session had been previously scheduled with another photographer and something came up where the session would no longer be possible and a new photographer needs to be found at the last minute.

5 week old newborn girl swaddled in aqua knit swaddle in San Diego, CA

So what’s the big deal between a ‘young’ newborn and an ‘older’ newborn?  What’s the difference between a 7 day old newborn and a 4 week old newborn?

First, an older newborn will likely be less sleepy.  With their new environments so fascinating and inviting, older newborns will be awake a bit more.  Is this a problem?  Not at all!  With proper preparations, such as a full feeding prior to our session, correct temperatures and other soothing techniques, an older newborn is bound to fall asleep at some point during our three hour newborn session.  However, the general expectation at this age would be for an older newborn to remain awake and alert a bit more than a younger one.  My little model for this blog post is baby girl, J, who came into the studio at 5.5 weeks new.  Baby girl, J, just like many other older newborns, was awake and alert for the first 1.5 hours.  So does this mean that this ‘awake’ time is just ‘wasted’ time?  No.  At this age, it is a bit easier to get some awesome eye contact.  That connection made between the camera and a beautiful and innocent newborn is priceless.  In fact, I have so many parents that tell me how much their ‘eye contact’ image is their favorite, as months and years down the line, parents are able to see some of their child’s personality through that connection and alertness during that shot.  Older newborns that are awake are usually swaddled and photographed in a variety of settings.  The swaddle also acts as a ‘comfort’ technique where many will feel so content that they will fall asleep.

Newborn girl is awake and wrapped in yellow swaddle next to yellow daffodils.

An older newborn might begin to have that peeling skin or cradle cap, mainly on the forehead.  Baby acne may appear after a few weeks after birth as well.  Is this an issue?  No.  It just makes editing a bit more tedious for the photographer, but that is why you are hiring a professional… they know how to work newborn magic in Photoshop.  Beautiful baby girl, J, did have a bit of cradle cap on her forehead, as she was over 5 weeks old at the time of her newborn session.  As you can see through the images below, I was able to adjust her skin to smooth out that flakey skin.

Older newborn girl posed in nature inspired outdoor newborn photography session in San Diego, CA.Cute newborn girl in a wooden box outdoor in Southern California

An older newborn will likely be larger than a younger newborn.  Newborns start to put on the ounces and pounds after birth, so it makes sense that a newborn that has been living outside of the womb for a few weeks will be a bit larger than a younger one.  What does this mean for our newborn session?  It just means that as newborns tend to fill out and get used to not being curled up inside the womb in a curly position, some of those more intricate, squishy poses may not work as well.  My #1 priority is the health, safety and comfort of your newborn, and I always ‘listen’ to what baby is comfortable with.  Posing is still absolutely achievable with an older newborn, but there is a chance that we might not get as squishy as a younger newborn would.

Magical newborn photo of a baby swaddled in a green and flowery gardenSmiling newborn girl in wooden box in blue flowers outside newborn photography Newborn holding a blue flower for her outdoor newborn photography session Older newborn holding a flower as her photographer takes her outside for some nature baby photos Outdoor photography in San Diego, CA6 week old newborn girl swaddled in purple blanket for her newborn photo sessionOlder newborn in froggy pose during an outdoor newborn photography session in San Diego, CA

In any case, it is NEVER too late to have your newborn photographed.  I always recommend setting up your newborn session during pregnancy, but in the event that baby has already made his or her debut into the world, don’t hesitate to have your newborn photographed to preserve these beautiful, tiny moments.