Newborn Session Tips


It’s an overwhelming, emotional, and completely euphoric time for you!  A brand new little life who just turned your world completely upside down.  In the most wonderful way!  Sometimes uncharted territory can be a little scary and with a newborn portrait session coming up, you may be feeling confused about what you need to do to get ready.  Here are some helpful tips to make sure our time together goes smoothly.  Please be sure to follow the tips as closely as you can and I am always here to answer any questions you may have!

What should I expect?

My portrait sessions are very low-key, relaxed, and not jarring to young children {or parents!}.  I am adept at guiding children through simple poses or activities that are appropriate for every stage of infancy.  I am also prepared for surprises that always come along when working with naked babies, so please don’t be embarrassed!  It happens ALL the time!  The newborn session is really all about the new little one, your relationship together, and the love in your home.  I shoot primarily lifestyle images when working in client’s homes, which means that we will use your furniture, your belongings, and the natural light found in your home to capture the sweet moments between your family and your baby.

We have grandparents / friends / other family members visiting.  Can they stay and watch?

Getting organized for a portrait session can be stressful, especially with a new baby.  I would love for your guests to help you with this process.  However, when I are working with your child, we will be creating a unique bond during your session.  It’s important that additional guests be respectful of that relationship and refrain from helping to direct pose choices or standing over me during the portrait session.  I may ask for Mom or Dad’s help, but other than that, your guests may relax and enjoy your company in another area.

What should we wear?

For parents I suggest colors that coordinate but not match.  With your sweet little baby being the focus of the session, neutral colors tend to work best, steering away from logo’d t-shirts or bold patterns.  Casual clothing is perfect and bare feet look most natural in a home setting.  Mom’s, consider a beautiful maxi dress or a pretty cotton gown that will be both comfortable and oh-so-sweet while you are cuddling with your new baby.  I will photograph baby with no clothing if they are comfortable, if not I have several wraps to swaddle them.  When we do some of the snuggling parent images, you may wish to have a tight fitting onesie or a cute diaper cover for baby.  Newborns are so small it is often very difficult to photograph them in cute outfits as they are usually swimming in them, and just tend to look silly.  Hang on to those cute little outfits for sessions when they are a bit older!  See links below for suggestions on where to order a special item of clothing for your session.  Please be sure to take a look at this helpful wardrobe post for more tips!

What else do we need to have prepared for an in-home session?

  • Please do not worry about the state of your house! You just had a baby. I do not care if dishes are piled up in the sink and clothes baskets runneth over!
  • Undress baby and loosen baby’s diaper completely about 30 minutes before the session. This allows time for the diaper’s imprint marks to disappear from their skin. Swaddle baby in a warm blanket until I arrive.  If baby’s skin is a little dry or flaky, try applying a small bit of baby lotion to those spots the day before our session. But don’t worry if it doesn’t go away completely…Photoshop does wonders on red, flaky, bumpy newborn skin!
  • Have your house warmer than normal. Ideally, you’ll want the thermostat set around 80. For the adults it will be a bit hot and uncomfortable, but the baby will be toasty and happy.
  • Collect any items you want used in the session beforehand – family heirlooms, toys, monogrammed blankets, hats, etc. We’ll go through these together to determine what will look best in the pictures. I love to use your own furniture and home accents in your session. It makes it much more personal. So, while I will bring a few items of my own, be prepared for me to poke around your house to find great things, too!
  • Since I will be photographing baby in the nursery for a portion of the session, be sure all the curtains and shades are fully open to let in lots of natural light. I also love to photograph baby with mom and dad in their bed, on the couch, anywhere comfy and snuggly. No need to clean, but just try and make sure the clutter has found its way to a closet in these particular rooms.
  • During the morning prior to our session, try and keep baby awake and stimulated as much as possible. Give baby a bath, play for awhile, and try to feed him/her about 2 hours before our scheduled session. This is VERY IMPORTANT!!  Once I arrive, I will ask that you feed baby at that time, so I have about 15 minutes to get ready and also photograph you nursing (if you are comfortable) or feeding. Let them eat until they don’t want another drop. If you are bottle/formula feeding, don’t worry about measuring this time. You won’t spoil baby and they will be so full and happy, they’ll be out in no time. Aren’t we all happier with a full belly?
  • After the baby is full, make sure they are burped really well. Gas can take a sleepy, happy baby to an uncomfortable and irritable one in seconds.
  • A mother’s smell is so recognizable (and sometimes distracting) to a baby, that it may be necessary for the mom to leave the room for portions of the session. This is not meant to hurt your feelings, but only to allow me to get the baby thinking sweet sleepy dreams, instead of hungry “Where’s my milk?” dreams.
  • Be prepared for a longer visit.  Newborn sessions are the most challenging, usually lasting about two hours but occasionally lasting longer.  The more tips you can follow, the faster I am able to work!
  • Be patient. If the baby gets fussy or alert, don’t worry. A baby can sense your anxiety and we want to keep the environment as mellow as possible. I will try and get the baby comfortable again, but if that just doesn’t seem possible, we’ll take a break or we’ll work with what he’s giving us. Sometimes the best pictures are ones when baby isn’t necessarily doing what we want.
  • Have music or the television on for white noise for baby or, if he is accustomed to being in a very quiet house, no noise is fine, too!  Whatever environment is “normal” for baby, that is when he will be most comfortable and resting peacefully.

And MOST importantly, the only job you have while we are together is to RELAX.  I don’t need you to wait on me or even stay with me while I work with your baby.  As a mother, I know it’s hard to not be right beside them when they are so new and little, but I am very careful and will take good care of your baby.  In fact, it is usually best when Mom and Dad aren’t in the room while we are working with the baby, especially while they are sleeping.  They tend to get into a deeper sleep faster when mom is not nearby.  Go sit on the couch, put your feet up, take a nap, answer some emails, whatever you want to do to take a little break!

There are so many ways to personalize the session, not only using your personal items (furniture, hand-me-down items, special gifts) but also by purchasing a few very special items just for our time together.  Just to help you get your creative ideas flowing, here are a few of our favorite vendors for newborn props:

Neisha’s Blue

Ashley’s Posh Tots

Lexi Couture

No. 2 Willow Lane

Gorgeous & Co.

Pooks & Lulu


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