As a newborn photographer, I get asked often, when is the best time to do a newborn session? How do you get them to sleep for the session?
If you are a first time parent, the whole idea/concept of even doing a newborn session is unknown to you let alone when the right time would be. In short, there isn’t a correct answer to this question. Probably every newborn photographer you ask will give you a different answer. This is because every baby is so different and every photographer has their own preference mostly from experience that has worked for them. It’s always important to ask the photographer you are thinking of hiring what their preference and recommendations are so you are sure to be comfortable with it.
I have been specializing in newborn sessions for just over 7 years and I prefer babies to be at least 1 week old but under 2 weeks. I find this can be the most perfect time to do the session since baby is mostly likely to still be sleepy and flexible from being in your belly. If mom is recovering from a c-section or baby boy will be circumcised, I do recommend closer to the 2 week mark to help mom and/or baby recover a bit more. I photograph babies in the nude so I wouldn’t want a baby boy to be uncomfortable in any way while posing him if he is still healing from a circumcision. And yes, sometimes babies do poop and pee on me, my assistant or other things during their session. You cannot work with naked babies and not expect accidents to happen. I call it a “job hazard”. But thats a blog post for another day.
Now just because I prefer babies 1-2 weeks old for their session in no way means that we cannot do a session after baby is 2 weeks old. We definitely can! I just tell my clients that usually around 2 weeks of age, babies have their first growth spurt in which they can sometimes become more alert and are bigger. This can mean baby may not sleep as well or be as flexible for the session. Getting those sleeping, curly poses that we all love may not be always achievable. Every baby is so different though, so I would always be up to try and never turn away a client who has an older baby. Sometimes if they are awake more, we can get some beautiful shots with babies eyes open and they give beautiful eye contact! I love those types of images.
I’ve had some babies 5-6 weeks old come in for a session and they slept amazingly! Sometimes even better than a newborn under 2 weeks of age! It just totally depends on baby, their temperament, size and if they like to sleep! Some babies are alert right from birth even! In those cases, I swaddle them up for the majority of their session and we get beautiful images too.
I do have a few tips and prep instructions I give to all my newborn clients beforehand that has seemed to help babies sleep better for their session. Of course, even if you follow my directions to a tee, it still does not ensure baby will sleep but I feel it does help us get MUCH closer to it!
The first and most important, I ask moms and dads to keep baby stimulated and awake for at least 60-90 minutes before leaving for the session. Getting baby naked or a bath is the best way to help keep them awake. I don’t recommend letting them cry or get terribly upset though. Obviously use your best judgment for this but I have found if baby has been awake in the morning before the session, they tend to sleep better for the session with me.
I know what you are probably thinking….. “Does this really make a difference since newborns sleep all day anyways?” The answer is YESSSSSSSS!!! Keeping baby up can make ALL the difference! Every newborn has an awake period during the day as they grow so we are trying to help them have this awake time done and out of the way before the session. Remember, we are constantly moving and posing a baby which isn’t something that’s typically done at home. If they have been sleeping all morning, I can almost guarantee they will not sleep soundly for their session and this may greatly reduce the types of poses and prop shots we will be able to achieve. So PLEASE, if you don’t do anything else…….KEEP BABY AWAKE.
I also ask to try to time feedings so you can give baby a full feeding just before putting him/her into the car seat to leave for the session. Also make sure they give a good burp so any gas doesn’t settle in their tummy. The car ride will help them into a deep sleep so they are ready to start when you arrive. Don’t worry if your ride is 30-45 mins. It’s OK to let them sleep for this.
These prep instructions along with a few others are given to all my parents right before their newborn session. Even if baby is 1 week old or 4 weeks old. The process stays the same and works well!
If you are interested in a newborn session for your little one. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me or a newborn photographer in your area. Even if your baby is older, don’t miss out on the chance while they are still so little. They grow so fast and will never be this small every again!
You can contact me for session info and pricing here. I look forward to meeting and working with you!