Though I was so sad I wasn’t able to photograph those sessions, it was especially disappointing for the new parents who had their hearts set on documenting the very fleeting newborn stage of their baby’s life. These clients planned far in advance—they had contacted me months ago to book their sessions, we had already been exchanging regular emails, and had met in person for planning consultations—all before business closures were imminent. We were just awaiting the birth of their babies when the stay-at-home orders were issued, forcing us to postpone their photo sessions.
If you are a new parent or parent-to-be considering having your newborn photographed, but need to wait or postpone for any reason, read on. Find out all the details I shared with my own clients about other developmental milestones that we could plan their photo sessions around and why my personal favorite time to photograph babies is around 6 to 8 months old.
Milestones by age that also make great images after the newborn stage:
• By the 3 month mark, babies become much more responsive to interactions with their parents and other external stimulation.
• They can engage in back-and-forth play, such as imitating facial expressions and mimicking sounds to make “conversation.”
• They can make eye contact and smile, which is especially gratifying after the intense early days of caring for an infant.
• A baby’s personality begins to emerge. They will display some characteristics now that will still be recognizable in years to come as their own distinct traits.
• Younger babies need to have their heads supported, but by 3 months they have likely gained enough neck strength to support and lift up their own heads. This makes it possible to photograph a 3-month-old baby lifting and holding up his or her own chest and head while doing tummy time.
6 Month Milestones
• At around 6-months old, babies are learning to sit on their own.They are still a bit unstable and may need some propping, but they can usually sit unsupported for short periods of time without tipping over, especially while leaning forward on their hands.
• This is a great age to photograph a new baby with young siblings who may not be able to hold or support an infant securely.
• They are social, will smile easily, and can even laugh and squeal with delight.
• Their parents—who now have a good sense of their baby’s new likes and dislikes—can elicit big smiles when they engage and play games like peek-a-boo.
• Six-month-old babies are very curious, exploring through touch by reaching, grasping, and mouthing anything they can get their hands on.
• Though they can’t yet crawl, they may be able to get up on their hands and knees.
9 Month Milestones
• At 9 months or so, babies start exploring independently by trying to crawl, pulling themselves up to standing, and eventually cruising.
• They can understand and follow easy commands, like “get the ball” while a parent points to a ball.
• They can play peek-a-boo in return
12 Month Milestones
• At around 12 months, they are at the cruising stage and some may even have started walking. By now they can usually stand up and sit back down on their own.
• They can likely turn pages of a book, throw a ball or roll a ball back and forth.
• They may enjoy dancing and moving to their favorite music.
• They can wave goodbye.
- Babies and Toddlers: Developmental Milestones (from Johns Hopkins Medicine)
- Stages of Play from 6-12 Months: Discovering Connections (from Zero to Three, and early childhood advocacy organization)
- A Visual Guide to Baby’s First-Year Milestones (good infograhic from The Bump)
About the Photographer and Author:
Julie Kubal is a child and family portrait artist and photographer serving Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. She is passionate about creating warm and meaningful artwork through modern portraits and lifestyle photography at a location of your choice!