5 Tips to prepare for your newborn session
Cute squishy newborns, what’s not to love? You may have known before becoming pregnant that you wanted to preserve those early days and remember all the little details that make up your unique and individual child. But maybe it’s your first baby and you have no idea what you need to do before and during your infant’s portrait session. I’m here to guide you, so no worries mama. Here are my tips to prepare for your newborn session:
1. RELAX | 5 Tips to prepare for your newborn session
“But how can I relax?? I’m so stressed over everything I need to do before the baby is born and once they’re here I’m stressed from lack of sleep and getting a newborn ready and out the door!”
I hear you! What I mean by relax is to take a deep breath and know that at Amanda Ellis Photography, we do all the work and you can just sit back and enjoy the experience. We’re moms too and we know how stressful those early days with a newborn are. Trying to figure out breastfeeding, learning to change a diaper efficiently, trying to read the label for the gripe water because your baby won’t stop crying through your bleary eyes from lack of sleep. It’s hard. It’s probably the hardest thing you’ve done in your life!
So believe me when I say no mother is thrilled to see a super long list of tips to prepare for your newborn session (aka chores) they need to do before their newborn can be photographed. Which is why my list is a little different than most you see online. Starting with, relax 🙂
2.BOOK EARLY | 5 Tips to prepare for your newborn session
There’s nothing worse than realizing after your baby is here that you forgot to schedule their first portraits and then scrambling to find someone with availability last minute. I know you have a lot to get done before the baby arrives, but this is an important step in making the shoot as seamless as possible. I recommend clients schedule when they are in their 2nd trimester.
Most newborn photographers (us included) can only take a certain number of baby’s in a given month due to the uncertainty around the actual birthday. We take up to 8 newborns per month allowing us flexibility in scheduling should babies come early or late.
Some photographers prefer to photograph infants before they are 10 days old. My sweet spot for newborns is between 7-21 days after birth. More information on why this is the case can be found in my article “Why photograph newborns under 3 weeks?”
3. MANAGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS | 5 Tips to prepare for your newborn session
Every photographer has their own style and way of doing things. Look through portfolios on their websites to get a feel for the overall look and vibe of their newborn images. Do they only photograph babies wrapped? Do the babies look comfortable? Do they also photograph awake babies or only sleeping ones? Do they include the entire family or just the infant? Do they use color or only black and white or neutrals? Do they allow outside props to be brought in or can you only use what they have available?
All these questions will help you decide which photographer is the right fit for your vision. Don’t hire a photographer who does only in-home lifestyle photography and expect them to be able to do complicated beanbag poses like a studio newborn photographer will (Check out my post “Lifestyle Newborn Photography or Studio Newborn Photography?“ if you’re wondering what the difference is). If you love color and choose a photographer who only shows images of babies on a white blanket, don’t expect them to be able to throw in hot pink to match the baby’s nursery.
If you prefer awake images of babies instead of the sleeping poses, be sure and discuss that with your photographer. I personally like to get a mix of both in a session but if you ONLY want awake shots, I recommend waiting until the baby is closer to 4-6 weeks and can start giving us more expressions and have longer awake periods.
And finally, understand that your baby is the boss of the shoot. It’s their world, we’re just living in it! If you know anything about infants, you know they can’t be reasoned with. So maybe you absolutely have your heart set on Froggy Pose or a specific prop or setup but the baby is just NOT having it. You have to be willing to let it go. An experienced newborn photographer should have tricks to be able to achieve the shots you love most, but we aren’t in the business of making babies uncomfortable. So we adjust based on each individual newborn and their comfort level.
4. IGNORE WHAT YOU’VE READ BEFORE | 5 Tips to prepare for your newborn session
Maybe this is your second baby and you’ve done a newborn shoot previously with another photographer and they have a list like this:
Keep baby awake 2 hours before the shoot
Feed baby right before you leave for the session
Bring lots of diapers and wipes
Bring entertainment for your toddler sibling
Bring snacks and drinks or lunch because sessions are long
Bring your entire wardrobe the whole family
Do you hair and makeup before you leave the house
For the most part, there’s nothing wrong with any of these tips to prepare for your newborn session. I used to have the same list that I would send to clients. But I do things a lot differently now.
Keeping your baby up 2 hours before the shoot is not only stressful for you, it can make the baby overtired and super grumpy during the shoot. This “tip” I have seen backfire many times and would much rather you just stick to whatever routine (or non routine) you’ve been doing before the session.
Same idea with feeding the baby before you arrive. If it happens to work out that way, great! But sticking to some rigid schedule for feeding is not realistic with a new baby. It’s just not. And we get that! To be honest, most babies will need to eat often during the shoot. And that’s totally fine! We expect it! We never want you to rush a feeding for our sake. We would much rather have a milk drunk and happy newborn than one who is starving and unsettled the whole shoot.
The rest of these items are all things that we provide in house at Amanda Ellis Photography.
-We have kid friendly snacks and drinks and coffee drinks for mom and dad.
-We have things to entertain your other children, including a huge TV ready with Cocomelon or Paw Patrol or whatever show they’re super into right now.
-We have a fully stocked changing table with newborn diapers and wipes and butt cream. As well as items for mom that you may forget including pads, nipple cream, boppy, nail file, nail polish remover etc.
-We have a Client Closet with beautiful and flattering dresses for mom and send a Prep Guide with simple suggestions for what siblings and dad should wear that you likely already have in your wardrobe at home.
-We provide hair and makeup services to all of our mom’s as soon as you arrive at the studio. Seriously, just show up. We’ve thought of everything else.
5. FOLLOW THESE RULES | 5 Tips to prepare for your newborn session
There are just a couple of rules that really do need to be followed in order to have a successful shoot.
-Do not schedule your baby boy’s portraits the day after their circumcision. Just don’t do it. This should be a no-brainer, but I can’t tell you how often it happens!
-Do not schedule the day after your baby has had vaccinations. Again, we want a happy and settled baby and if they’re feeling icky from a slew of vaccinations the day prior (or sore legs from the injection sites), we’ll have anything but a happy and settled baby.
-Tell us if your baby has suffered a broken collar bone during birth! We’ve worked with many babies who have had broken clavicles and we can still achieve beautiful images, but it changes our typical posing workflow and we can’t do certain poses that require the arms to lift over the head. But we need to know ahead of time if this is the case so we aren’t attempting poses that could be harmful to their healing. And always ask your pediatrician before the shoot how the baby is healing and if there are any specific instructions we need to know before photographing your infant.
And that’s about it! You can breathe a sigh of relief if you’ve booked a shoot with us because we will take great care of you and your whole family. You can just sit back and enjoy the pampering and watch behind the scenes as we look after your sweet new baby and treat them like our own as we gently pose them and photograph them in the most ridiculously adorable setups you can imagine. We’re going to create images that you’ll cherish for a lifetime and be able to look back and not remember the stress of preparing for their shoot but how fun and easy it was! Were these tips to prepare for your newborn session helpful?
Ready to chat with me about what your dream newborn photoshoot looks like and how we’re going to display it as artwork in your home?