Brand new babies are a sight to behold; not to mention, cuddle, kiss, and snuggle. Of course, when it comes to capturing these little darlings on film, it may bring some stress or concerns to a new momma. Let me assure you; together, we’ll make your newborn photo shoot float as smoothly as that full-night of sleep you so long to have.

photo of newborn girl with pink swaddle lying on parents' bed 

In all seriousness, though, I know for a first time mom—or even just having a first time newborn session—can be worrisome when you don’t know what to expect. That’s why I’ve created some tips to help you relax and enjoy the moment with your little one, while I immortalize it for you.

If you’re looking to plan a newborn photo shoot, or have one in the books, here is my list of tips to get you prepared and in the right frame of mind:

  • Schedule in advance. Generally, the best time to schedule your newborn session is within the first 10 days of life. When it’s reasonable, contacting me when you’re in your second trimester so we can tentatively schedule you will be the best way to ensure I’ll have the availability open. I’d love to be included on your contact list when baby arrives, so I’m already in the loop and expecting to find time soon for your new arrival’s big debut. I’ve discussed the best times to schedule your newborn photo shoot in the past and gone into a bit more detail in another post. Feel free to check out the why’s and some additional tips here.
    close-up photo of yawning newborn boy in white swaddle
  • Where will you be? Newborn photo shoots are almost always held in your home. It helps keep everyone more relaxed and comfortable. When you’re a sleep deprived mommy, the last thing you need is to figure out how to bring every item needed to keep him or her comfortable, well fed, and content while in a new location.
  • Keep baby well fed. Having a full tummy (but not gassy!) will help baby sleep, allowing us to take all of those adorable sleepy-posed shots. It’s okay if we have to stop on and off during the session to refuel with sleepy-juice. It’s all part of the process.
  • Have the house warm. Babies are used to being snuggled up and toasty. Since he or she will likely be down to just diapers a good portion of the time, please make sure your home is warm enough for them to be comfortable. About a half hour before hand, turn the heat to somewhere around the 80-degree mark.
  • Loosen the clothes. If baby is going to be taking those adorable bare-skin shots, loosen up clothing and diapers a good half hour to an hour before our session. This will help any clothing or diaper lines to disappear before we get the camera out.
  • Siblings. In a perfect world, babies could sleep through absolutely anything. Sometimes they can, but now’s not the time to take the chance if we can help it. If you have other little ones who are going to be involved with the photos at some point (sibling photos, for example), help the big kiddos to find something fun to do in another room while we do the single newborn shots. This will help us get as much done as we can while baby is sleeping and before their siblings enter the scene. If they aren’t going to be in any of the shots, consider a babysitter or a trip to Grandma’s if you’re afraid they won’t be able to contain their excitement. Trust me, 2-4 hours can be a long time for little ones to wait!
  • Patience is key. Babies can be fickle. Sometimes they cooperate in just the way you have planned, and other times…not so much. The key is to go with the flow of what your baby needs or how they’re feeling. That may mean taking a break for more milk, or lulling them back to sleep a couple different times. This is perfectly normal and completely okay. We’ll take our time together and get the perfect shots of your new little one.
  • What about props? Who wouldn’t love to have great-grandma’s crocheted blanket, or an heirloom toy, brand new teddy bear, or something equally important in the photos with your new baby? This is absolutely okay! Let’s get together a week or two before our session to go over the list so I can be sure to plan accordingly.
  • What should I wear? Go for simple colors, and clothes you feel great in. Oftentimes, parents want to dress up for these special pictures. And while that’s okay, sometimes it can mean feeling awkward too. With a new baby in the house, the last thing we want is for you to feel uncomfortable. Visit my previous post with tips on dressing for your family portraits.
  • Relax and have fun! I cannot stress this enough. Taking these photos together should be a fun time and will capture the memory of your baby’s first days. Give yourself permission to enjoy the moment and most of all, let your baby be a baby. Don’t stress out over anything—trust me, I’ve seen and been through it all. There’s nothing we can’t handle.

Professional Washington DC Photographer Julie KubalAbout the 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!