Wondering when is the best time to have a newborn photoshoot?
If you are new parents or a new mom, this question has undoubtedly come to your mind. It’s probably why you are here right now!
Or perhaps this is NOT your first one but your first time doing a newborn shoot? Whatever the reason may be, as an experienced newborn photographer, my goals are to give you all the information you need to make the perfect decision for when to have your newborn photo session done.
Here are the TOP things to keep in mind when preparing for a newborn photography session.
We’ll break this down in 3 general broad categories of before birth, during birth and after birth to help make this easier to grasp and hopefully retain!
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Let’s talk before birth.
Expected Timeline of Events
After you know you’re pregnant, (by the way, congratulations for that!) confirm and note your expected due date.
This will be important when it comes to scheduling your newborn photoshoot. For professional newborn photographers, many will recommend going ahead and scheduling the newborn shoot within 2 weeks of the anticipated delivery date.
Even if you don’t, knowing your due date will be key in your communication to your professional photographers. Especially if you’re planning on a studio session, having a date and time locked in will be crucial to ensure you have an appointment.
Waiting last minute puts you at risk with losing an opportunity with your photographer of choice since their scheduling may be full up to weeks, months or more in advance.
The general rule of thumb for the best age for your new baby is within 14 days after birth.
Yes, that means no more than 2 weeks of age.
However, many newborn professional photographers may even say the latest would be 12 days. No later than 10-12 days would be an ideal time to ensure those fresh moments of sleepy, pliable, chill baby disposition is captured before the quick and almost immediate transition to an alert and active temperament.
The first couple of weeks of life will fly by.
That cuddly state of sweet drowsiness, adorable fuzzy gaze and extremely flexible agility begins to transform quickly. Not to mention, the growth of new babies is lightning speed fast.
Capturing him or her in their smallest phase of all developmental stages is vital to creating beautiful new family memories to look back on, even within just a few weeks and months after birth.
The Best Time of Day to Schedule Your Session
So what is the best time of day to schedule your newborn session?
The perfect time for newborn babies will vary from baby to baby. This obviously does not help when it comes to scheduling studio time but keep these tips in mind that will help.
The earlier can be the better, depending on your sleep/wake patterns.
While yes, this will likely adjust with the birth of your newborn, you already know yourself best right now. BEFORE the baby has arrived. There are parents who are night owls versus morning birds. Some feel best when it’s mid-morning or late afternoon. Keep this in mind when you’re scheduling your newborn baby photo shoot so you know you will likely be at your best as far as energy, enthusiasm and mood even after the baby arrives.
This actually goes with after the baby’s birth BUT…
Keep in mind you will need to pay attention to your newborn baby’s feeding schedules and moods associated with his or her feeding schedule. Typically, predictable sleeping schedules will follow after a baby feeds, which can be helpful in several ways.
You’ll be able to plan a feeding time around your scheduled appointment time or vice versa but only if you have photographer that has the ability to be flexible with scheduling.
For example, if your baby photoshoot is at a photography studio, you will likely have your appointment booked well in advance before the baby arrives. When your baby is born, keep track of how he or she behaves before and after feeding as well as how frequent those feeding times are.
Note your newborn’s sleeping schedules.
Are they feisty before they feed, but sleepy after? This typically is the case.
But knowing YOUR baby is key so you have a general idea of what is best for them can prepare adequately as the actual session date approaches.
I’ve had mothers wait to feed their babies a few minutes before I arrive for in-home lifestyle newborn sessions because they’ve had enough time to know their newborn will be sweet, sleepy and cuddly for the next 30-45 minutes after. This helps tremendously in getting plenty of shots in before the next feeding is needed.
With this thought, the next step is to consider your photoshoot goals.
Plan Ahead | Type of Photoshoot
Think about the goals of your photoshoot.
Do you want a studio session? Perhaps in-home, family, lifestyle type of session? Or even a hospital session? Do you want photos of baby feeding or not? Do you want newborn newborn photos or older baby photos?
Consider all these details before the baby’s birth. With all the adjusting to life immediately after the baby is born, you likely will not have the luxury to plan appropriately or efficiently for newborn pictures. So do it now, before your little miracle gets here and takes over your world!
A studio session will likely need to be scheduled well in advance, which means you need to know what studio newborn professional photographer you plan to book, their stipulations for booking and how their sessions are structured. Trying to do a studio session as a last thing following the birth of your baby will leave you with undue stress and disappointment if things end up not working out due to lack of availability and planning.
In-home sessions, lifestyle sessions are more relaxed but still. You’ll need to think of your photographer of choice and how busy their schedule may be. Communication with them early puts you and your newborn on their radar so a later newborn photo session may be more feasible than a studio session.
Unusual newborn photoshoots like at the hospital immediately following birth or even an outside photoshoot will need to be discussed and planned with your newborn photographer as early as possible.
Restrictions, especially because of COVID-19 repercussions, will have to be considered and confirmed with hospitals or any other birthing facilities to ensure you can have your photographer come in and certain settings outside the home will have to be researched to ensure it is possible to schedule and shoot a session.
Outfits and Poses
Then there’s outfits. You need to think about you, your significant other, any siblings, and of course, your newborn.
Planning for the color scheme and outfit coordination before birth will give you a lot of time to prepare. I always suggest to my clients to look on Pinterest and even create a Pinterest board of newborn photoshoots that they like. This helps with getting their input on specific poses in addition to giving them an idea of how to style themselves and their baby for the shoot.
Uncomfortable situations like not knowing if they want photos of baby feeding versus not, can be avoided by assessing this at the same time.
Keep in mind too many outfit changes can be taxing on both mama and the baby. A great plan for newborn pictures is to plan for naked skin photos and one outfit change.
Professional newborn photographers can position themselves and the newborn in a way where that beautiful soft, newborn skin is highlighted but diaper footage is minimized.
Furthermore, by planning one outfit change, it will help structure the baby photoshoot so say, the first part of the session consists of naked skin shots of baby and the latter half with the specific outfit that has a particular meaning to mom, dad or both.
Newborn clients have a way of letting everyone know what they are ready or not ready for. This is usually why newborn sessions are bound to take longer than an hour. So on a sidenote, be prepared for the length of the session to be at least 2 or more!
And they usually dictate when certain shots will happen. Moving the newborn into different newborn poses can be coordinated well by keeping the baby’s comfort level a top priority especially with distressing movements during clothing changes (like clothes going over their face, arms being raised over their heads).
You are probably thinking, “what does the actual birth have to do with a newborn photoshoot?”
Simple. In one word, communication.
Let your photographer know when you start going into labor and the delivery is about to commence!
As a client, you may not be aware of all the other sessions your newborn photographer may have booked. Keeping that line of communication current will put them on high alert should adjustments in your photo session date or other modifications be needed due to unforeseen circumstances that may develop.
According to the CDC about 1 out of every 10 infants in the United States is born in preterm birth, and that was in 2020. Premature babies can have different complications depending on how early they are delivered which could affect your pre-planned newborn photoshoot session.
Some newborn professional photographers, especially who specialize in studio photography, will still feel it best to complete the newborn photo session as soon as possible after the preemie has been cleared to discharge home from the hospital. Others prefer to wait several weeks after the birth of a premature baby, even as far as 4 weeks depending on how premature the baby is.
The bottom line is that each baby is different and by having a close relationship with your photographer, adjusting to the needs of the newborn no matter how early, late or complicated their arrival may be can be done best with open lines of communication.
To summarize, let them know when you go into labor and let them know the good news when the delivery of your newborn is complete!
Ahhh, after birth is when the fun truly begins!
If you have not already by this time, you should have that newborn photo session locked in. Additionally, you are learning your baby’s feeding and sleeping patterns, and learning when they are most cuddly and sweet versus demanding and fussy.
Here are some final pointers to keep in mind, especially if this is your first baby or your first time as parents.
Baby blemishes can be present at birth or develop in the few weeks after birth.
Baby acne are little red or white bumps that usually appear on the forehead, nose and cheeks. Milia is another term that can develop on the nose and chin and also can appear within a few weeks after birth.
These can appear in 2-4 weeks after delivery and resolve in about 3-4 months.
Another common condition in newborns is called cradle cap. These usually manifest as patchy scaling, thick crusty flakes of white or yellow on the baby’s scalp. It is actually the baby term for seborrheic dermatitis.
This too can develop within a few weeks after birth and take up to months to resolve. Have no fear though, because most cases usually do not require medical treatment.
Many newborns will have soft, downy hair all over or in patches. This is normal and will wear off with time. But there is also the issue of dry skin and it can even give the appearance of peeling. While this is totally normal, it can show up in photographs no matter how good of an editor your photographer is.
Moisturizing with a lotion that is not oil based will be helpful, specifically the oil can cause a sheen in newborn photos. However, depending on your provider, many have found Aquaphor products to be helpful for this besides just a soft cloth wet with warm water.
For many of these conditions, they will resolve.
But, simple remedies like keeping your baby’s face clean with warm water and mild baby soap and gently patting your baby’s skin dry will help as well.
For baby acne, avoid using lotions or oils on the newborn’s face. For cradle cap, washing with warm soap and water or a mild baby shampoo will help. Do NOT scratch the scales off! If it seems more severe, then talk to your medical provider for a low-potency antifungal shampoo or steroidal cream. Anything more than that, you will need to defer to your provider on. For dry skin, having a warm wet cloth to wipe the exposed parts of the baby’s skin, including their face, eyes, nose and mouth, arms, torso and feet right before the newborn photographs are taken can do wonders for beautiful newborn photos!
To summarize, the best time for newborn photos is early in the first few weeks of life!
So many changes happen in the weeks following birth and all parents note there can be a huge difference within just days as their newborn begins to develop. While the right time can vary from newborn to newborn, the sweet spot for most is within the first 10-14 days of life.
As you prepare for your newborn photography session, my hope and prayer is that this blog post has given you information to help you best prepare and schedule your photoshoot.
And definitely DO schedule a newborn photoshoot! If you want gorgeous photos of your baby, book a newborn photographer. Those iPhone photos taken by a friend or family member so you can avoid the cost is not the same as a professional newborn photography session! You will never have those first few days of life back with your baby.
The only way to best commemorate the beauty of him or her is by expending the finances to capture those moments by a professional!
This article on perhaps the most famous baby photographer, Anne Geddes is a testament on how unique this niche of photography is. It is worth investing in regardless if it is newborn or older babies you are photographing.
Should you have any questions, feedback or input on any of them above, let me know! I would love to hear about your experience. And check back soon to see the next upcoming blog post giving you all the things regarding the best time to take maternity photos!
Til’ next time, cheers!