When Should Newborn Pictures Be Taken?
When should newborn pictures be taken is one of the most common questions you’ll get as a newborn photographer is “When is the best time for newborn pictures?”. Those warm and happy feelings parents get when they see photos of babies snuggly posed in baskets, charming costumes, with the most adorable newborn props, can be achieved with a just a little bit of planning.
Behind these gorgeous photos and heart-warming reactions is a lot of preparation from your newborn photography skill training as well as clear communication with the parents before a session happens. To make sure expectations are met properly, it pays to prepare and inform your clients for their upcoming newborn shoot.
But, before we begin and talk about the main topic, it is necessary for you to have basic understanding of newborn photography. For that, you can check out my previous post that includes all newborn photography tips for parents.
A Few Months Before Due Date
Most expecting parents would contact a professional photographer two months prior to delivery day. Some would even plan way ahead once they discover they’re pregnant. It is, after all, an exciting time to make sure to schedule a session with them within the first two weeks after birth. It’s good to leave a little flexibility in your schedule since babies come out at their own pace but once they say hello to the world, a good rule of thumb would be to photograph between five to ten days.
Less Than Five Days
Oftentimes it takes mother’s milk to increase in volume in the first five days. Babies also learn to get a good latch for breastfeeding moms during this time. With this in mind, scheduling a newborn shoot when the baby is less than five days might mean you’ll have to deal with a fidgety one. Getting a small amount of milk makes them hungrier often and feedings will be frequent. Well-fed babies on the other hand usually feed every two hours and that should give you a good window to photograph them like a breeze.
We need to take into consideration too that the mother just went through this beautiful ordeal of giving birth, and these first five days are for her to allow her body to rest and build a feeding rhythm with her new child. Consider this as a time of adjustment for both mother and baby. Once they’ve properly tuned into each other, they will all be ready and prepared for the upcoming shoot.
Five To Ten Days
This is the perfect time to schedule a newborn baby session. By five to ten days, babies’ bones are still soft enough to pose them in curled or womb-like positions they have been so used to for the past nine months. The same soft bone cartilage that helped navigate the baby out in the world is the same that will help photographers shape them during a newborn session. It’s simply the babies’ natural flexibility at this stage that makes it comfortable for them to be molded into such precious positions.
A posed newborn session is a different kind of photography art form. It not only requires technical skills in terms of lighting, camera adjustments, styling, and props but patience and proper handling of these tiny cherished human beings. I've shared all details about camera settings and lens combinations for newborn photography.
Here are some popular newborn poses that can be achieved at this stage. These focus on the babies’ flexibility and facial features, along with other cute little details like baby fat and wrinkles.
Tushy Up - Also called the bum up (who wouldn’t agree babies’ bums are thecutest?! This pose shows is also able to show the beautiful curvature of a baby’sback)
Lazy Lean – similar to bum up.
Womb Pose – resembles how they were in the mother’s tummy.
Side Pose – a pose that babies naturally love to do.
Huck Finn - baby on their back with their cute legs curled up over their bodies.
Frog Pose – is a favorite because of the squishy cheeks and cute little feet sticking out!
Potato Sack – baby is wrapped like a potato and placed on props.
There’s more than a handful of lovely poses that can be done during this stage, and this is where newborn photography has been made popular for. You can also check out our other article for more tips on posing your newborn.
Wrapping your baby is a delight when you see them so still and sleeping all snug in fabric. Having them wrapped not only soothes them but definitely makes for better photos too. Here are some samples of wraps that can be done with a five to ten-day-old baby:
The Simple Tuck
Babies also don’t mind being naked at five to ten days as long as the temperature is warm enough for them to keep cozy.
By The simple tuck this time a feeding schedule of every two hours would have already been established so you can time the newborn shoot in between feeds. Since babies are also asleep most of the time, you will be able to breeze through varying poses and props. This is a great opportunity to show how tiny they are in different ways. You can literally show what little bundles of joy they are with different wraps and textured fabric.
More Than Two Weeks
Sometimes life just happens or parents decide a little late in the game that they do want to remember their newborn babies by in a shoot. Is it too late for a newborn shoot at this stage? Does age really matter? The answer is nothing is too late when it comes to capturing memories of your children.
You do have to consider one thing though, with babies, that time flies the fastest with newborns. They grow at an outstanding rate. A five-day-old baby is very different from a fourteen-day old baby and even more so with a twenty-four day old one. The newborn stage is up to two months only; after that, they are considered as infants. That is why we scramble so much to hold on to these tiny moments that pass by so fleetingly.
Older babies are more awake and have more developed bones, therefore certain types of poses will apply for this stage. At two to five weeks, babies may also start to develop digestive reflux. As such, heads are posed higher than their tummies and lying flat on the back is avoided to deal with this.
The curled up sleepy poses may not happen, but you can get a different flavor in your photographs out of a more personable baby. You can also say hello to more smiles and interaction in babies nearing four weeks. Great interaction shots with parents and siblings can also happen at this stage still.
Still Want Sleeping Poses?
If the parents still wish to push for sleeping shots for older babies, it is recommended to have the babies awake two hours before a session. Babies at two months are usually only awake for 90 minutes, so two hours would be a long time to be awake. By the time a session starts, the baby will be tired and napping. Other tactics like lullabies & baths may also work but keeping them awake before a session is still the best trick. Moreover, you can also try some of the most appealing newborn photography poses given in my post.
Babies at this stage may not like having clothes off so you may have to go with shots of the baby dressed, handheld or nicely snuggled in a gorgeous basket. As young and little as they may be, they already come in with personalities of their own which can be brought out in photographs. Sometimes parents also come in with a vision of what their babies may be like and can make good use of props to bring that out.
No Hard Rules:
There are no hard rules when it comes to the best time for newborn photography. Although we can only provide a guide, babies come out at their own pace and every baby is different. Pre-session instructions are very important to go through with parents to set expectations. Clients may come in expecting a sleeping pose but have not properly prepared the baby to sleep and you end up with a totally awake baby - which is still totally adorable anyway.
Sleeping or Wide-Awake?
Photographers can also give the the parents an idea of what the photographs will look like based on the baby’s age. Some few days old babies can sleep like a champ and you’ll be able to complete poses and throw in a little backdrop or two. Older babies, on the other hand, can give you the most charming wide-awake expressions which can also make for compelling photographs.
Like the way newborns are curled up in a session, flexibility is key for newborn baby photographers in terms of capturing moments and accepting clients. It would be rather difficult to turn down a parent just because they’re past the ten-day age window. Just let them know what to expect and you’re good to go creating amazing images for them.
Photograph away at any age and make good use of the magical and meaningful costumes, props and varying backdrops from the tiny prop shop to achieve the precious little moments both parents and child would one day remember. Our job is to beautifully capture the all mini sweetness in the initial weeks of life that will forever be treasured.