Congratulations! Chances are, if you’re here reading this article, it’s because you’re expecting or have recently had your baby. You’re probably curious as to how the newborn session works, and what you should do to prepare for a successful one. You’ve come to the right place, here are 8 tips to help you prepare for your newborn photos.
Tip #1: Pack Your Diaper Bag accordingly
This may very well be one of the first trips you make out of your home with a new baby. You may be at a loss as to what and how much you should back. While I can make specific recommendations to my clients, you should always pack enough of the following:
- Wipes & Diaper creams (if needed)
- Formula or Pumped Milk (or bring your pump if you are pumping)
- A spare change of clothes in case of accidents
- A pacifier – this can be a touchy subject based on parents’ own preferences. If your baby takes one great, if they’re unsure of whether they like one, that’s ok too. It’s good to have a spare in case they need just a few seconds of additional soothing in between poses. I promise, this short amount of time won’t create a dependency.
- A hairbrush if baby has hair.
- Burp cloths for feeding and small messes
Tip #2: Prepare your own outfits (& siblings if applicable) and pack on hangers
Having your own clothing (and any siblings’) prepared beforehand will eliminate stress the day of with trying to locate any missing outfit pieces. Take these with you on hangers to avoid wrinkles, especially for mens’ shirts as they can get creased while driving. While most newborn photographers will provide the necessary outfits for baby (and depending the photographer, mom and siblings), dads and older siblings will need to be prepared with their own.
Tip #3: Eat breakfast
This is an important one. As new parents tending to a baby’s needs, it can be easy to forget our own. For newborn sessions with parents, it is important that you have eaten and feel well. Holding a baby in certain positions, with close body heat and fluctuating hormones can cause moms especially, who haven’t eaten to feel faint. Your body needs nourishment, and the last thing anyone needs is for mom to pass out. Most photographers will provide light refreshments and snacks, but breakfast is important. If we need to stop for food breaks that is absolutely fine as well.
Tip #4: Dress comfortably – and that applies to everyone
- Aside from the clothes you are being photographed in, for parents and siblings, this means wearing comfortable clothes that allow you to relax when your portion of the session is done.
- For baby, this means uncomplicated garments that won’t leave any distinct marks on their bodies. A zip or snap onesie is fine, you can avoid things with snug waistbands. Prior to the session start, you can also loosen their diaper a bit and just swaddle as you prepare so baby is less disturbed when being changed and posed into their final outfits.
Tip #5: Feed your baby before the session starts
Babies are happiest (and sleepiest) with full, milk-drunk tummies. If your travel time to your photographer is short, sometimes it is easiest to feed them prior to leaving the home. If your session is at a studio a bit farther away, sometimes it is best to arrive and feed baby there so there is no big gap in their feeding schedule.
I don’t ask parents to change their feeding schedule for the baby’s session, we just feed baby when baby wants or needs to eat! Many times this happens to be right at session start time, and that is ok. Otherwise during the session, the baby’s needs are always a priority and we break as needed for baby to eat.
I also find that feeding time is the best time for a quick diaper change and a “loosening” of any garments baby is in and a swaddle to pave the way for a more undisturbed sleep when they are done eating.
A note for moms who are nursing:
- If you are breastfeeding your baby, you may want to avoid certain foods that can cause baby gas and make them fussy the day before their session.
Bonus Tip: Baby Baths
- If baby’s cord has fallen off already and baby can have a bath, this can be very soothing for them as far as prepping them for sleep. Just don’t try out any new soaps or lotions before your session in case baby’s skin has an adverse reaction.
Tip #6: Prepare older siblings if they are participating
If you are doing family newborn photos with older siblings, try your best to prepare them for this idea. Toddlers may not yet be used to this newcomer, so it is best to have snacks and something to keep them entertained at the ready while your photographer works through their unease. Newborn sessions can be long, so if you are in a studio setting, most photographers will recommend that the older siblings be “released” from this otherwise boring setting and find something fun to do. This can be a great opportunity for some parent/child bonding time while the rest of the newborn session is complete. Check with your photographer to see if they have recommendations for nearby age-appropriate activities for your older little one.
Tip #7: Discuss the details of your session beforehand
It is important to discuss the style, color, theme, and any important props and poses with your photographer beforehand. Communication is important beforehand to allow for adequate preparation on the photographer’s part, and make sure that we aren’t missing anything that is important for you. If there is a specific prop, an heirloom, a color you want to incorporate, this is important to discuss beforehand so the session runs smoothly.
Tip #8: Relax
Babies feed off their parents’ energy. They can feel our moods, and can react accordingly. I know a newborn session can feel chaotic at times, or you may be nervous if baby is a bit unsettled or fussy that day. Do not worry, your photographer knows what they’re doing, and will employ their best methods to make sure baby’s needs are accounted for. We try our best to take any stress away from you that day so you can just enjoy what is happening in front of you (and maybe sneak in a nap or two!).
How DO we soothe those fussy babies anyway?
Soothing during your session can come in many different forms. Sometimes a baby just has a trapped burp, sometimes they just need a booby cuddle on mom. Other times, a light butt pat will just help them settle in to whatever position they are in. Babies can only communicate with us by crying, so don’t be alarmed. If it’s not hunger, it is gas and we will help them as best we can. We will also employ paci’s, soothing noise machines, wraps, and vibrating pads if necessary to get your baby settled and feeling good.
Hopefully these tips help you feel more at ease when preparing for your newborn session. In addition to these tips above, my clients receive a thorough prep guide as well as a session planning and design questionnaire to ensure that we are addressing any and all specific needs.
Do check in with your photographer to see if any additional resources are provided during your session. Typically most will have extra diapers, wipes, pacifiers, etc on hand just in case you forgot something important!
Ready to book? Contact me below to see how I can help you plan your own newborn session to perfection!
Sofia Ribeiro is a New Jersey Newborn Photographer serving Union, Morris, Sussex, Bergen, Monmouth, Middlesex, Essex, and Hudson counties. We also serve NYC and Long Island. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram & Facebook!