It’s a question that never really occurred to me as a photographer until a client emailed to ask if it was normal to schedule a newborn session when her baby was just a week old. She was a first time mom and I could tell she was nervous. My initial reaction was to rattle off a handful of reasons why newborns are photographed at a such a young age, but then I took a minute to put myself in her shoes. As a first time mom, I remember being overwhelmed with emotions – fear and anxiety being right at the top. I had no idea what I was doing! I can remember my pediatrician telling me to limit the amount of visitors that came by and to get plenty of rest. So as a client it makes total sense to be nervous and apprehensive before a newborn session. The day of our session is likely the first time that we will meet. I may have been referred to you by a friend or maybe you follow me on Facebook, but I am pretty much a stranger coming into your home. You’re tired, you’re stressed and you’re not sure what to expect. I totally get that! With more than 5 years of experience photographing newborns, I feel completely comfortable and confident handling your baby, but I still understand the hesitation. So I wanted to tell you the reasons why newborns are photographed so young.
Newborns are sleepier in the first two weeks. Why does it matter whether a newborn sleeps? Well, if you’ve spent any time with a newborn you know their movements can be a bit awkward when they are awake. Their arms and legs are usually moving all around. Their eyes tend to wander and even cross. They may be fussy or just want to feed all day. When a newborn is in a deep sleep or ‘milk drunk’ it is easier to position them for pictures and those sleepy shots are usually what clients are looking for.
Newborns are more easily posed when they are asleep. In the first two weeks, babies are naturally scrunched up so it makes it easier to curl them up into a pose. As they get older, they stretch out more and resist being put into certain positions.
Older newborns can develop baby acne. It can be a mild or more severe case and sometimes takes as long as 6 weeks to clear up.
Newborn photography is meant to capture babies while they are still fresh and new. A newborn at 4 weeks is already one month old. They have grown leaps and bounds in just a few short weeks. At a month old, they are beginning to raise their head and focus on objects other than your face. Their hands begin to unclench and before you know it, they’re grabbing toys. Setting up a newborn session in the first two weeks of life allows parents to freeze time forever. Your baby will never be that little again. Every day they are growing and changing.
So what happens if my baby will not sleep during a newborn session? First, I always send an email at least 24 to 48 hours before a session with tips on how you can prepare. Things like stimulating the baby an hour or so before the session or cranking up the heat in your house. I also wrote a blog post with do’s and don’ts for a newborn session that you can check out. If you do all these things and the baby is still awake, we’ll just do our best to capture those wide eyed moments. I will try to swaddle the baby to keep them calm. We’ll put on some music or white noise and just go with the flow. Having the session at your home allows for more lifestyle shots so this is a great opportunity for mom and dad to get in some shots too.
As a photographer, there are things I do to prepare for a newborn session as well. I always make sure my family and I are healthy before I will photograph a newborn. I wash my wraps and blankets before each session in case there were any accidents. I always ask to wash my hands before touching a baby and will use hand sanitizer throughout the session as well. I know how precious this new little person is to you so I make sure I make every effort to put parents at ease when I’m photographing newborns.
I hope this helps to ease some of the fears you may have about photographing your brand new baby. When it’s all said and done, you’ll end up with some amazing images!!
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