Preparing for your Newborn Photography Session
A handy guide to help parents prepare for their newborn studio session!
How exciting! You’re either expecting the arrival of your brand new baby or you’re already holding your sweet newborn in your arms! Either way, you’re reading this blog post because of your interest in a newborn photography session! I am so excited to meet your little one. No, seriously… it sounds generic and corny, but I really DO get super excited about each and every newborn that comes into the studio for their photo session! I know that every infant that I work with is beautiful and perfect, and I love being able to focus 100% on getting your newborn cozy, comfy and posed perfectly! In order for our session to run smoothly, I do a variety of things to prepare for our session, and below, I outline a few tips I suggest to all parents to prepare for our time together. So here we go!
Let’s get you on the calendar!
So, newborns have a mind of their own, and of course, rarely ever arrive on their due date. However, booking your session during your pregnancy will ensure that I will have an open spot on my calendar reserved just for you when baby arrives. I keep a window open for one month (two weeks before and two weeks after your due date) to guarantee that we can have your little one come in for his or her session as early as possible after birth. Ideally, we want to shoot for our newborn session to take place around day 6-ish. It’s definitely not a magic number, but I find that by around one week old, you will be home from the hospital or birthing center, if nursing, your milk production should be ‘up and running’, and in general, you are getting into the swing of things as new parents with a newborn! Did you come home on day 2 and you are feeling up to a session the next day? Totally not a problem! The younger your newborn is during our session, the more likely he or she is to stay sleepy and curled into those sweet, sleepy newborn poses. Generally, a session within the first two weeks of life is idea, as baby acne begins to develop around week two, and baby might be a bit more awake, making intricate posing just a tad more time consuming as we wait for the sleepies to move your little one back into nap-mode.
If your baby has already arrived and you didn’t have time to book during your pregnancy, that is not a problem at all! I keep all of my weekday mornings open JUST for my newborn clients, so more than likely, I can fit you in!
Get a timeline prepared for the morning of our session.
I get it – you have a new baby and now it’s a circus act to get the family piled into the car in a timely manner. However, as I’ll explain below, there are a few steps I ask that you take in order to prepare for our session.
Map out directions to the studio the day before our session, and pull up the address on your GPS or phone ‘Maps’ app the day before our session, around the time you ‘think’ you should take off from your house to travel to the studio. This will help you get a better idea of how long your commute will be the following day.
Get ready, pack the diaper bag, then set aside a good 45 minutes immediately prior to departure to feed baby as much as baby wants to eat. Newborns are content when they are fully fed, and typically, a good feeding sends them into a lovely snooze. We want your baby to begin our session with a full and happy belly. This means that baby must eat right before departing for your session to ensure that your little one will not be starving by the time you arrive for your scheduled newborn session. This is super duper especially important if opting for a mini newborn session, as our time will be limited to only one hour, and we want to spend all of that time focusing on posing and photographing. Full, three hour sessions allow us a bit more time due to the nature of these longer sessions.
I will give you an ‘arrival time’, which is fifteen minutes prior to your scheduled session time. Please arrive at your ‘arrival time’ to make use of those extra fifteen minutes to get baby acclimated to the studio temperature and new surroundings, and especially to change baby’s possibly soiled diaper, and most of all, to feed baby one last time before we begin. We want your baby to be ‘Thanksgiving Day Full’ for our session! Your baby will have eaten fully right before you left for the studio, but with travel time, your baby might be interested in ‘topping off’ with just a bit more milk to keep satisfied, sleepy and content. Remember, especially for those mini newborn sessions – we only have one hour, so fully preparing for our session with these arrival and feeding times are super important
Bring a pacifier.
I recommend the Soothie brand for ages 0-3 months. These are the pacifiers that are used in hospitals for newborn use, and I find these to be a favorite among my newborn clients – even for those taking a pacifier for the very first time during our session. I will never pressure you into using a pacifier if you do not wish to, but I absolutely recommend bringing one along, as they really, really, really, really help in soothing a newborn and helping baby get comfortable for posing. Newborns have a natural reflex to suck. It’s a comfort thing, and an important one in my opinion. We will never replace feeding with a pacifier if baby is hungry, but for a baby that has eaten quite a bit, is full but needs to continue sucking for comfort, a pacifier is key. I find that most of my newborns that might be a bit fussy benefit greatly from the use of a pacifier during our newborn session. I have extra Soothie pacifiers on hand if you forget to bring yours in, so don’t worry if you hadn’t considered bringing one
Get ready for the heat!
I will have the heaters running in the cooler months (and a fan going in the hot, summer months). Your baby will be photographed in a variety of poses, both swaddled, in cutely knit rompers or bare skin. We want baby to be warm and comfortable during their entire session, and that means keeping the heat cranked up. Your baby has been living in a 98.6 degree swimming pool for the past 9 months, so to help keep your baby warm while they’re unclothed, the temperature is set to 85 degrees. It might be a bit too warm for us, but we have clothes on and can better regulate our temperatures. For baby, it’s important to have just the right temperature consistently going throughout. So, dress in layers, so that you can be comfy too!
Yes, there will be poop!
Parents are often concerned that their baby will poop or pee on my blankets, outfits and swaddles. Yes, they will, and that’s ok! Everything is gently and thoroughly washed after use, and most poop stains can be removed if washed in time, so don’t worry about it! It’s common, it happens and it’s totally a totally normal occurrence for any newborn photographer! In fact, in the rare instance that a newborn leaves the studio totally mess-free, I always comment on how rare it is, and give baby a tiny high-five for the cooperation!
Many parents don’t know how involved they are ‘supposed’ to be during the newborn session. This is YOUR baby, and very likely the first time you will be handing off your baby to a ‘stranger’. It’s totally normal to want to be by your baby’s side at all times during the session. I want you to feel comfortable in trusting me with handling your newborn. I have a small seating area in the shooting space that you can use to sit back and relax, or you can sit next to me to be closer to baby if you prefer. I might ask you to scoot over to a spot that might not block my light for the shot, but you are welcome to be as close or as far from baby as you need to. Know that I am experienced, and as a professional, I will be handling your baby with the most attention and care. I often have parents ask ‘can I do anything’ while I am posing or calming a fussy baby. I might ask for assistance for a couple of poses, but generally, I handle posing and comforting using the skills and techniques that I have learned to adapt throughout my years of experience.
Every single newborn is different. Some will sleep the entire three hours you are here. Some will be awake for the entirety of their one hour mini newborn session, some will be awake for an hour, then sleep for ten minutes, then wake for 20, then back for five… there is generally no timeline as each baby has their own thoughts on how much they want to sleep. Some are so alert that they just don’t want to miss a beat, and are so curious about what’s going on around them. I specialize in posed newborn photography. Many of the poses I am known for achieving must be done with a sleeping baby, for his or her own safety. If I feel a pose cannot be safely achieved if a newborn is awake, I will not attempt it, and will focus on poses that will keep baby comfortable and soothed, with the goal of sending baby off into a comfy slumber. Despite all of our preparations and little tricks to get baby to sleep, your baby might not sleep. This is a possibility, especially during a one hour mini newborn session. For full sessions, we have three hours to work with, and baby will almost always fall asleep at some point during that extended session time. Be understanding that your baby didn’t do anything wrong or isn’t being a ‘pain’ for not wanting to sleep for posing. Some newborns are just in training to be the life of the party later in life! I mean, that’s a pretty cool trait to have! Embrace your baby’s personality and just go with the flow during our newborn session. You might find that months and years down the line, once you get to know your baby a bit more, that the newborn session was a perfect example of your baby’s developing personality!
I hope that these tips will come in handy as you prepare for the most awesome photography session ever… your newborn session!