Newborn photography sessions differ in many ways from other types of sessions. Having a large selection of props and backdrops, the right equipment and a beautiful new baby do not guarantee a successful newborn session. Luckily, there are several things you can do that can improve your chances of getting beautiful portraits of your little one. Prepare for your newborn photography session by doing the as many of the following as possible:
1. Schedule Your Session Early
I recommend that you schedule your newborn session PRIOR to your baby’s birth to ensure a spot on my calendar. Newborn babies are best photographed in the first 2 weeks of life. They sleep better, don’t have colic yet, and usually haven’t started developing baby acne or cradle cap. Contact me during your second trimester and we will set a tentative session date based on your due date. I understand that babies rarely come when predicted and I will accommodate their actual arrival date, but a due date will give us a base line. Once your baby is born, please get in touch with me and we will firm up our date and time. I always feel super special when dads put me on the official “baby is here” call list!
If you are considering circumcising your baby, please schedule the procedure right after birth or after their photo session. It takes five to seven days for a circumcision to heal. Don’t try to schedule your session until at least five days after a circumcision because it can be too uncomfortable for the baby.
2. Watch What You Eat
If you are nursing, be sure you’re careful with what you eat for about a day leading up to the session. Any sort of spicy foods can make the baby uncomfortable or upset his/her tummy. And an upset tummy will always mean lots of tears and little sleep! So avoid spicy foods, or any foods the baby may have allergies to, at all costs! If baby happens to be gassy the day of your session, Oval or Gripe Water can be used to help ease baby’s discomfort.
3. Keep Your Baby Awake
Try to keep your baby awake in the couple hours leading up to the session to ensure he/she is good and sleepy for the session. If the baby has slept all morning and then arrives to the session, he/she just might be ready for a long awake period, which makes the job of getting them sleepy all that much harder. Parents always think it won’t be a problem because their baby sleeps all the time, but I cannot stress enough that once they are naked and being moved around unswaddled, they NEVER stay that way. But, if you follow these instructions, it will help tremendously! To keep your baby awake, talk and play with him/her, let him/her kick in just a diaper, and give him/her a bath – whatever it takes to keep him/her alert for an hour or two. Then, when you arrive in my studio, he/she will be ready for a long nap!
4. Feed Your Baby
Make sure your baby has a nice, full tummy before you leave the house to come to your session. Make sure you get a good burp in too! A baby with gas is not a happy baby and can result in lots of crying. Assuming your drive isn’t too long, the baby will probably fall asleep in the car and will be ready to go when he/she gets here. Make sure you do a spotless vacuum job inside the car as dust and hair can upset a baby. I can immediately get started on the session when you arrive and hopefully get an hour or two of photos done before baby needs a feeding break. In fact, feed the baby as often as you can for about 10-12 hours before your session to ensure that baby is really full and they will be more likely to have a long, sleepy stretch. You can also top baby up with a quick feed when you get here if necessary.
5. Bring a Pacifier and Bottles
Bring a pacifier and bottles! If your baby takes a pacifier, it will be very helpful for soothing your baby during the session. If you’re breastfeeding and are open to bringing bottles with breast milk, great! I can feed baby with a bottle more quickly and it prevents the baby from smelling you and wanting to feed more than necessary. Of course if you are exclusively breastfeeding, then I will ask you to feed baby when required. Babies always eat way more than usual during their newborn session.
6. Dress Baby in Loose-Fitting Clothing
Bring baby in a button-up or zip-up sleeper – preferably a loose fitting one. If the baby arrives nice and sleepy in his/her car seat and then we have to remove shoes and socks, pants, and take a shirt off over his/her head – it almost always wakes them up. It’s much simpler to zip down and slip off pajamas while the baby remains asleep! And if the pajamas are loose-fitting, then ideally there won’t be many lines left behind on the baby’s skin.
7. Wear Simple, Comfortable Clothing
Wear something comfortable. Keep in mind that I rarely show anything below the waist in the family portraits, so you can wear shorts, jeans, or whatever else you choose. For mom, a simple black or white tank, short-sleeved shirt or tube top is perfect. Simple is best, so avoid patterns. It can also be lovely to photograph the mom wearing a cream-coloured wrap (which I have at the studio) around her torso and photograph the baby skin to skin next to the mother’s body. If this interests you, bring a bandeau top or a cream coloured strapless bra. For dad, a black or white t-shirt works best. Siblings can wear a white or black top as well, or a light coloured shirt. Pinks, blues, greys, and browns work well. See some ideas on this Pinterest board.
8. Dress in Layers
My studio will be HOT (28 degrees Celsius), so I always suggest you dress lightly or in layers and take advantage of my cold drinks in the fridge. You can always change into another outfit when it is time for you to be photographed.
9. Bring Something to Do
During the session, sit back and relax. I won’t need much assistance, so take advantage of this time to rest in my sitting area (I’m sure you need it!). Parents will often watch a movie, answer emails or read in my sitting area while I work with your new little one. I’ve even had some parents take a nap!
10. Bring Snacks
I will have drinks here for you and granola bars, but I recommend bringing a lunch or some snacks because I expect that our day will be several hours long. There is a Tim Horton’s and a Subway and some other places nearby on 16th Avenue. If one of you would rather slip out part way through, there will be plenty of opportunity to do so
11. Leave Siblings for Last
To maximize our chance of sleepy baby photos, we will leave the family and sibling photos for the end. Please arrange childcare for your other children and have them dropped off here for the last hour of the shoot if you would like them to be involved in some photos. If it works better for you, one parent can stay home and come with the sibling(s) at the end.
12. Be Prepared for Messes
This is a full service studio meaning that I will be changing baby’s diapers, cleaning up any messes, and feeding baby when required during the session (unless Mom is breastfeeding). I usually ask that moms stay outside of hearing and smelling range. And just to warn you, when being photographed with your baby, you may get peed or pooped on! This happens daily in my studio (usually on me or on my blankets), but some parents are surprised by and unprepared for it.