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How to take care of a newborn
When To Take Newborn Pictures

When To Take Newborn Pictures When To Take Newborn Pictures

Some parents like to wait a little longer to capture more of their baby’s personality. 4-12 weeks old is a great age to capture a more alert baby, with open eyes and maybe a smile or two. Interactions with parents and siblings (and pets!) will be a lot different too.

“Weighting the buckets and props is a big one so a baby doesn’t tip over and get hurt. Another is the pose itself- newborn necks are very delicate so you want to be very careful with positioning. If the pose comes undone, you don’t want the baby to fall or hurt his neck. I use a very large beanbag that was designed specifically for newborn photography so if the baby does tip to one side they are very protected and are on a soft surface. Also, everything used from the blankets to the hair bows are all washed between every session to keep everything very clean and germ free.”

“Most studio newborn photography is done naked to capture the tininess of being a newborn so something that is easy to take on and off. If you’d rather have your baby clothed in the pictures something that fits them very well is important. Big clothes never look good on anyone in photos, but on babies it really looks terrible.”

3. What If Babies Don’t Arrive On Their Due Dates? Image Source: Rebecca Yale Portraits

Birth is such a powerful moment in a parent’s life. The hours and days following a birth are very special too and filled with “first times”. Imagine capturing the first time your older children meet their baby sister or brother. Or when you bring your baby home from the hospital. Maybe you’d love to capture the moment your dog (or cat!) is sniffing the head of this new little intruder. The first bath. The first time with the grandparents, or great-grandparents!

If you love the look of a sleeping newborn baby, anytime from birth to about 15 days is the best as they spend most of their time sleeping.

Newborn photography— those adorable photos of infants posed in baskets and buckets— was not on my radar when I was pregnant with my first child. And, I later found out, if you don’t book while you are pregnant, you are out of luck because the poses you see in those pictures can only happen within the first couple of weeks.

Margaret said: “I was worried that it would be stressful to have a photographer in the house with such a new baby but Johanna was totally unobtrusive, and so good at developing a rapport with us and with the children, that it wasn’t stressful at all. Our photo shoot was totally relaxed. My favourite moment has to be when we saw the slideshow and the images – it was so lovely to see all the little moments that were utterly familiar but which I hadn’t realised had been caught on film. Now, every time I walk into the sitting room, the pictures make me smile, and I love knowing that we’ll be able to look back at the album in future years and remember exactly how it was at this special (but slightly hazy) time!”

12. What’s The Worst Thing A Parent Can Do During A Session? Image Source: Rebecca Yale Portraits

10. How Do You Handle Pee And Poop When You Take Off That Diaper? Image Source: Rebecca Yale Portraits

Ellen was 5 weeks old for this session and while she still looked small and super cute, she had longer alert periods which meant I could capture her big open eyes.

6. What Else Should You Bring? Image Source: Rebecca Yale Portraits

The first few days of a new baby are very special. So soon after the birth and most likely sleep deprived, our memory quickly becomes foggy. Photographs help you remember what you felt like at that time especially if you are in the picture too.

This time in your life doesn’t have to be perfect. It will probably be different from what you have imagined. Finding your feet in your new role or as a bigger family will take time as well as getting to know this new little person.

Waiting has its advantages too. Unlike me, you might be a little more organised as the weeks go by and feel more like “yourself” again. I personally think the post-birth bellies are a beautiful reminder of what just happened, but it’s important that YOU feel good about yourself too.

“One of the most important things is to make sure the room is very warm. I keep the heat turned way up and have a space heater next to the baby. I also will play white sound or soft music depending on what the baby responds to better. This keeps babies calm and asleep (sometimes parents too— I have had many a father fall asleep on my couch). I also never force a baby into a pose he or she is uncomfortable in and let the baby indicate to me which poses he or she is most happy curled up in.”

8. How Should You Choose A Photographer? Image Source: Rebecca Yale Portraits

“For studio photography the ideal age is between 5-12 days. When babies are that tiny they spend a lot of time sleeping and still curl up into very sweet poses similar to the positions they were in when they were in the womb. After two weeks babies go through a growth spurt and will start stretching their arms and legs and will not be as amenable to curling up for a picture or sleeping as soundly, which is needed for some of the poses and photographs in props like the buckets.”

“The worst thing a parent can do is be nervous. If your baby is crying, you have to trust the photographer to be able to comfort her. Continuously swooping in and handing the baby back and forth can make an infant even more distressed. My advice is to take a deep breath and relax. I know its easy to be nervous, especially when it’s your first, but the best thing a parent can do is sit back and take a couple hours to check their email, listen to music or just enjoy watching their newborn in all these adorable poses.”

“There’s no way to sugar coat this one- newborn photographers get peed and pooped on a lot. Blankets and props get peed on frequently. That’s why everything is 100% washable and it’s no big deal. You just keep going and throw it in the wash after the session is over. Parents need to be prepared as well. If you are going to be in the pictures, I don’t recommend wearing your favorite shirt or expensive clothing.”

This photograph was taken when Tove was only 3 days old and home for less than 24 hours. The great thing about doing the session that early is that siblings are usually still excited about the baby and taking turns to hold her. It is also a time that parents find hard to remember which makes it all the more precious.

Sophie was ten days old and spent 90% of a 4-hours session sleeping and the rest nursing, with one nappy change in the middle. The session shows how tiny she was and the wonder in her parents’ eyes that they were able to create another little being.

7. What Do You Do To Make Sure The Baby Is Comfortable? Image Source: Rebecca Yale Portraits

“Studio sessions typically last 3-4 hours which includes portraits of the baby on his or her own and then with each parent and then the whole family together. That may seem like a long time, but usually about half of that time is spent feeding and comforting the baby to get him or her as sleepy and happy as possible for the portraits.”

5. What Should Your Baby Wear To A Newborn Session? Image Source: Rebecca Yale Portraits

Willemein said: “If you want photographs that represent you in your own environment (where you feel relaxed) and you like a documentary style photography then don’t think twice. A beautifully captured moment in your life that you will forever cherish. If you like studio style staged photographs than she isn’t your thing. She’s talented, non-invasive and very good with kids as well as adults.”

4. How Long Does A Session Take? Image Source: Rebecca Yale Portraits

“I always love the photos of a baby in a bucket sleeping soundly with her head resting on her hands, it’s very sweet and makes for a cute birth announcement shot. I also love a baby curled up on his belly with his hands tucked under the side of his head and feet tucked under his butt. Most babies love to be in that pose because it reminds them of the womb. My favorite though is a baby curled up in his parents’ arms with his head resting on one of his parents hands. There is something so wonderful about the scale of seeing a tiny newborn in a huge hand that just makes for a magical and very special image.”

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11. Which Poses Are Your Favorite? Image Source: Rebecca Yale Portraits

For my style of photography, there isn’t actually a time that suits everyone. I personally would want all of those times captured and I encourage you to take a lot of photographs yourself as well as hiring a professional photographer. It passes so quickly and we often feel like we can’t take it all in.

2. How Far In Advance Should You Book Your Session? Image Source: Rebecca Yale Portraits

If you can’t choose, why not do an early newborn session then a session when your baby is around 6-8 months and finally a last one around his/her first birthday? First-year baby plans might be the perfect option for you.

“I hold time before and after so the parents are guaranteed a space no matter when their baby arrives.”

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All photos were created by Rebecca Yale, who gave me permission to use them here.

“There are a lot of photographers out there with different levels of experience and different styles so first I would see if you like the photographers style- their props, poses, lighting, positions, etc. Then I would make sure they have done a good number of newborn sessions. I have heard horror stories of inexperienced photographers or moms picking up a camera thinking it looks easy and then having a bucket tip over or a baby topple off a pillow. Always ask for a reference.”

It will be harder for first-time parents to know when the time is right. I would suggest contacting a photographer early (at least two months before your due date) and plan a session in the first two weeks after the birth. Unless you know you would prefer to wait, do it early. You cannot go back in time, while you can ask a photographer to come back later.

I found the whole experience fascinating so I asked our photographer, the wonderfully talented Rebecca Yale, if she could answer some questions about how she works with new parents to get them the photos they will no doubt treasure forever.

Below are 12 questions and answers accompanied by Rebecca’s newborn portraits all taken in her NYC-based studio.

1. What’s The Ideal Age For A Newborn Studio Session? Image Source: Rebecca Yale Portraits

With my second child, I booked a newborn session in the middle of my second trimester, I called the photographer right after Harlow was born along with my friends and family, and then had our photo session when my baby was just ten days old. (You can see my photos here.)

“You should book your session as far out as possible, as early as your second trimester. I usually book sessions 3-4 months in advance and for busy photography seasons, it can even be 5-6 months out. I’ve received hundreds of phone calls from parents who have just given birth who want to book an appointment and I have no availability left. Then they get very sad because its such a short window of time to take those special portraits and they missed it.”

To me, the focus of Fresh 48 sessions isn’t on your baby. Don’t get me wrong, there will be a lot of photographs of your baby, but what I am looking to capture is what it was like to welcome a new baby in your life.

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9. What Are The Safety Precautions Used During A Session? Image Source: Rebecca Yale Portraits

“Some good things to bring are pacifiers, a change of clothes for yourself (if you’re going to be in the photos holding a naked baby you might get pooped on), some extra diapers and wipes, extra formula or bottles if you are not breastfeeding, and any special blankets or toys that you want included in the photos.”

Expecting parents ask me when is the best time to do a newborn photo session. My answer to that question might be very different from photographers who do posed newborn photos.

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