January 25, 2021
Newborn sessions have my heart. Truly. I love the feel of them. I love the slow, perfectly imperfect, basically primal moments, and being around the itty bitty baby who needs nothing more and no one other than Mama.
I’ve done countless newborn sessions in the past 12 years, and have compiled some of my best tips to ensure that our session together is a success. If you have a newborn session coming up, I hope you find this helpful.
Mama, first and foremost, don’t feel like you need to rush into this session. I want for you to feel like a human (granted, a tired human) who can reasonably function for your session. My ideal time to do newborn sessions is between 5-14 days after baby is born, but if you need more time, please take it. I do not do “posed baby” newborn sessions, so it isn’t required that baby be under 2 weeks old. You are a tremendous part of this lifestyle newborn session, so please take the time you need to recover from baby’s birth and whatever that looked like for you.
2. Schedule for When the Light is Best in Your Home
I would encourage you to schedule our session together for when the light is best in your home. As a film photographer, I depend solely on natural light, and need an abundance of it to do my job really well. I can and often do work in darker homes, but the more light I have, the better. As we approach your session date, keep in mind that even though sessions are mostly indoors, I usually encourage a reschedule on those darker, overcast days.
3. Feed Baby Beforehand
As a general rule of thumb, baby is going to be most content for pictures when he has a full belly. This has been the case for the vast majority of my newborn sessions, the other small percentage being babies who dealt with reflux and needed a little time after eating to settle back down. So, if it works for baby’s belly, try to feed him right before or as I’m arriving for your session.
4. Spoil the Older Siblings
Depending on their age and the situation, older siblings may need a little extra love and encouragement around session time. Toddlers are wild cards when it comes to newborn sessions, and it makes sense: their whole world has been completely rocked. Set yourself up for success as much as possible. Let them know what to expect in the session. Involve them in caring for the new baby. Reward great behavior. Don’t push them to participate in the whole session. And finally, perhaps most importantly, be ready to bribe them (zero judgment here, trust me).
5. Crank Up the Temps
This is one that I hate bringing up because it’s such a pain – mostly for poor hot-natured Dad who’s often already sweating when I get there. Here it is: when baby is fussing – try setting your thermostat to at least 75 degrees. I know, I know. Don’t yell at me. But it’s like magic. Your little one just came from a toasty 98.6 degree oven, and though you like to keep your nest at a cool 68 degrees, he’s much more comfortable when the air resembles the oven he came from.
6. White Noise
It’s always a good idea to have some white noise accessible for when baby does his solo shots. White noise resembles what he heard in Mama’s belly, and should settle him right down if he’s feeling a little out of sorts laying by himself for pictures.
7. Keep it Simple, and Trust Me
I would encourage you to hold onto any agenda for pictures loosely, because ultimately the pictures you treasure will be the ones without the frills and where the light is best (even if that’s wedged in a beautiful window lit corner). I’m after precious moments that unfold naturally. And baby feet. His little head in your hand. Those wrinkly legs in a little white onesie. Having your own lineup of outfits and expectations of where you want the baby’s picture taken often distracts from the laid back, easy-going feel and heart behind my sessions, and potentially forces less than ideal light.
I don’t say this in the same way that someone may tell you to “relax” when you’re clearly upset (the worst), and I get that having a brand new baby doesn’t usually lend itself to relaxing. So hear me out.
While I’m there, DO something to relax. Take a load off. Have a cup of coffee. Or a mimosa. Or a big fat doughnut. I’m going with your flow, and there will definitely be some down-time while I’m there. Please use the lulls and downtime you’ll experience as an opportunity to do something for yourself. Two reasons for this: 1. Your baby will be more at ease if you are more at ease. I say that as a Mama of twin toddlers who felt that for myself in their newborn stages, and as a photographer who’s seen it a million times. 2. This is the way I work and naturally approach sessions and life in general – it’s really just who I am by nature. When the whole experience is said and done, you should feel more relaxed than before I got there.
So that’s it! I hope this helps you as you prepare for your newborn session. Most of all, please try to enjoy this time and soak in every detail in this precious newborn season.