When Is The Best Time For Newborn Photography? 5 Tips You Need To Know.

Newborn in Cradle

Newborns are breathtakingly beautiful, fragile, and captivating. They represent new life in its purest form and a newborn portrait session is a great way to remember those first few weeks of life forever.

Trust me, whether you visit a professional or decide to do some shots at home you will want the memories of your tiny newborn forever.

This complete guide dives into the little details to make sure you get the most out of your newborn photo session and ensure you get the best photos of your little bundle of joy.

Let’s get started.

Decide If You Will Have A Professional Newborn Photographer Or Take Photos Yourself.

Newborn in pink

The first decision you will need to make is whether you pay professionally for a newborn photography session or whether you stage a newborn photo shoot at home. 

A professional photographer will work with you to get the most from your newborn session. You should choose someone who has a portfolio of newborn portraits for you to view.

They should be able to talk to you in detail about the entire session.

If you want family members (such as older siblings) to be included, this should be discussed beforehand. Family photos can be a great way to bond siblings and make them feel part of the newborn excitement.

Choosing A Photographer

Open communication with your photographer about what you are expecting from a newborn photoshoot can make a huge difference. If there is a specific newborn look you want to capture then let your photographer know.

If you can provide examples even better.

Expect lots of photos to be taken. Your photographer will then edit the best ones and present you with a collection of around 20-30. From here you will choose your favorite photos to print.

Most photographers offer a package that includes the shoot and a set number of photos with additional images available to purchase for a set price per image.

I recommend choosing a photographer that also allows you to take away digital copies of the image.  This means you can use the images at a later date if you wish. I found they were a great addition to personalized cards for family members.

Take Some Photos Yourself

If a professional newborn photography shoot is not financially viable for you, why not take some photos yourself?

Ideally, you or someone you know will have some photography skills but with a little bit of prep, you should be able to take some beautiful newborn photos.

This will be the ideal practice for all the family pictures and photos you will take of your baby’s first year!

Here are some simple tips to make sure you get some beautiful images:

  • Use a solid color background. White bedding works really well for this and will make editing your images after much easier. Thicker material will crease less easily.
  • Use cushions and bean bags UNDER the bedding to help position your newborn and make your finish look seamless.
  • Use white noise to help keep your baby calm. White noise mimics the noise of the womb and your baby is less likely to startle.
  • Be patient. Newborns often don’t like to be put down, so you will need to do everything slowly and gently to avoid a crying baby.
  • Research baby photography in advance to get an idea of the baby photos that appeal to you. Check out this great video on home newborn photography.
  • It’s a good idea to purchase a baby doll to practice your baby portraits with. This is important if you want shots of your baby wrapped up.

Decide On The Location Of Your Shoot.

Newborn and flowers

Now you’ve decided who’s going to be taking photos of your newborn you need to consider where those photos will be taken.

There are various options, but they fall into three broad categories: Home, Studio, Outdoors. There are pros and cons to each of these options, so we’ll consider them separately.

Home

The biggest pro of this is that you are in the comfort of your home. You don’t need to worry about getting you and your new baby to a specific location at a set time.

If this is your first baby this may be especially appealing as those first few weeks can be incredibly chaotic.

For some people being at home will be more relaxing than in an unfamiliar studio setting.

As newborn photoshoots are time-sensitive it’s likely mom will still be recovering from birth. If the birth was complicated and this has impacted recovery then she may not be ready to take a trip out.

A disadvantage of having photos taken in your home is you may feel pressure to have your home “guest ready” to welcome a photographer.

If you know you’ll be stressing and running around with a vacuum in the hour before your photographer arrives, I’d avoid doing a shoot at home.

Consider also the space you have to work with, do you have enough room for a photographer to workaround? Is your home decor suitable for the type of photos you want?

Your photographer is also working in unfamiliar surroundings, so it may take longer to set up and work out the best angles and lighting for the shoot.

Studio

A studio is purpose-designed to allow for the best lighting and positioning.

Your photographer will have had lots of practice photographing in their studio and will have all of their equipment to hand. They will also have considered hazards and may have safety protocols in place.

Consider requesting to visit the studio prior to making your booking. Most studios are designed with the customer experience in mind and so will be cozy and comfortable.

If you want naked or minimally clothed newborn photos bear in mind the environment will need to be warm enough to accommodate this safely for your newborn.

All of this planning and preparation should be arranged for you in a studio meaning you can just arrive and relax.

Outside

Outside shoots are weather-dependent. The time of year your baby is born will have a large impact on if this is possible. Consider the use of fresh-cut flowers in an indoor setting if rain ruins your plans.

Outdoor photos can be absolutely stunning, but be realistic about your goals. They can be a bit of a race against time as loud noises or wind can cause your baby to startle. You may have to compromise on getting that perfect shot.

If you are happy to be in the photo as well this can give more outdoor options. Candid shots are really well suited to outdoor shoots and they can provide more natural family portraits

Newborn babies are very sensitive to the sun so make sure your little one is appropriately shaded. The last thing you want is sunburn on that precious skin for the sake of a few pictures

If possible try to settle your baby indoors first, and then move them outside. It can be very difficult to settle a baby outside as it’s such a stimulating environment.

Arrange A Shoot On The Ideal Date To Capture Your Newborn Baby

Newborn feet

The ideal age for a newborn shoot is before 10 days old.

Newborns are born with around 300 bones in their body whereas adults have 206. This is what allows them to crunch up so small in the womb and be molded into those adorable curly poses. After about 2 weeks those additional bones start to fuse and this progressively becomes less possible.

As only 4% of babies are born on their due date, it’s difficult to pin down an exact photo session date. As a general rule booking a date approximately 2 weeks after your due date is standard. 

Discuss with your photographer their perfect time to capture the newborn stage as they may have a preferred date.

That isn’t to say babies can’t be photographed outside of this ideal time. See below for more information on photographing older babies.  

Other things to consider are baby acne which can set in from around 2 weeks of age, and cradle cap which can occur from a month of age. A skilled photographer should be able to smooth over minor flare-ups. If your baby is more affected you may want to delay the shoot further. 

It’s recommended to photograph premature babies around their due date for their adjusted age. Premature babies spend less time in deep sleep than full-term babies and maybe more alert.

I would also recommend asking for extra time as preemies often have reflux which can make them a little more unsettled.

Arrange A Shoot At The Best Time Of Day For A Newborn

Newborn in blue

Although your baby won’t have a fixed schedule at this point, you will be starting to get familiar with loose patterns that you can use to your advantage.

Ideally, for your shoot, you want your newborn relaxed and calm. Posed photos are easier to obtain while sleeping, but it’s also nice to have a few open-eyed awake shots if possible.

If possible try to keep your baby awake the hour before the shoot. Nursery rhymes and bathing are methods you can use to achieve this. Then your baby will be ready for nap time when you arrive for the shoot.

A hungry baby will be much more difficult to deal with. Don’t be embarrassed to communicate with your photographer. They know you don’t have a feeding schedule yet and most newborns will require a feed at some point during the shoot. 

Most babies are more settled in the morning and tend to be grumpier from late afternoon onwards. Take advantage of this and try and secure a morning booking.



Consider Having A Photoshoot With An Older Newborn

Unfortunately life, and especially birth, doesn’t always go to plan. 

Perhaps your baby’s birth was traumatic, or you had a prolonged hospital stay before coming home.

Life with a newborn in the early days can be a bit overwhelming and chaotic especially for new parents. 

As discussed above you won’t be able to get those curled up like a frog tiny newborn photos with an older newborn. But that isn’t to say there aren’t advantages.

Older newborns tend to be more awake and alert. You may have a better chance of catching one of those adorable windy smiles. 

Babies tend to lose weight immediately post-birth. Although most have regained this by two weeks, waiting that little bit longer for photos gives time for them to lay down a bit of extra chub.

Whichever options you choose the most important thing is you and your baby have a great time and get some lovely baby pictures for you both to look back on in years to come.

What will you plan for your newborn shoot? Let me know in the comments below.