Preparing for your newborn session is so important. I can't stress enough to share all the details with your photographer as far in advance as possible. This is why booking early in your pregnancy is vital, once baby is here you won't be thinking about sweet details, you'll be logging missed hours of sleep and snuggling a brand new tiny human.
Share with your photographer any style preferences, color preferences and any special items, heirlooms, or outfits you'd like to include in your session. If you enjoy the babies posed in or on objects [like baskets and miniature beds or if you want to include dads boots or work items], if you would love for your cloth drop [the seamless fabric you see in most newborn images] to be neutral colored or match baby's mint and coral mermaid nursery or your deep blue living room walls. If your mother, grandma or neighbor made a special knit that you would like to include, or if you want to use your childhood stuffed animal, whatever it is, it's helpful that your photographer knows these things before you arrive. This is not to say you can't decide the day before that you'd really like to bring a little something special. I'm also not implying that you need to force ideas if you don't have any. I was super laid back when I booked Evelyn's newborn pictures and wanted to leave everything completely up to the creativity of my photographer, and that's super fun for us, too!
Once you've laid out the ground work, we will wait on baby's arrival. Notify your photographer of birth as soon as possible, and your session date will be adjusted if your baby was born early or late. When your session day arrives, the hours leading up to your session play a big role in those sleepy baby poses you see. Each session will look a little different, based off of the collection you book, but for the most part there's 3 important steps to help ensure a sleepy baby:
- Keep baby awake and stimulated for a little while leading up to the next steps. I know the exhaustion is real right now, but making sure baby is not sleeping all morning before their session is so, so important. Let dad walk around the house with your little one, looking at lights and shadows in your home, showing baby windows and keeping them stimulated while you get yourself ready for the day. After that mom can have an opportunity to exercise baby's arms and legs and talk/sing together. Make it fun, because speaking from experience this is the most difficult step.
- Give your squishy newborn a quick bath! This is apart of the "staying awake process". Plus, at days old, baths are a little bit of work and baby will happily sleep when he or she is able to snuggle up in our next step. A wash and lotion will also help hide those dry skin spots and cracks that happen in the first few weeks.
- Feed your baby before your session and after the bath. This is our end game and your baby should be ready to welcome sleep following a warm bottle or cozy nursing session. This step looks a little differently for an in home session vs. a studio session, but the purpose is all the same.
If you're hosting an in-home session, the space we shoot in doesn't have to be large or wide open. You're going to want to prepare to have your session in the most well lit room of your home; I usually shoot in living spaces, but I've shot in sunrooms, nurseries and even mom and dad's bedroom to get the natural light needed for our session. If you have a dimly lit space with poor natural light, I would recommend a studio session but it's not impossible! I would just need a little more space than normal to accommodate an artificial lighting set up. For in-home sessions you'll need to turn the heat up in your home [or in the specific room] so that it's nice and toasty for a naked baby. Also, keep baby undressed in a loose diaper following the bath [this helps keep away lines on their skin, but also less disruption undressing when I arrive.]
If you've booked a studio session, you obviously have to dress your baby when you leave the house, so try for something loose fitting and easy to remove like a zippered jammy or a simple onesie in the warmer months. I also keep my studio around 80 degrees, so I always suggest parents dress in layers if they plan on staying in the studio to watch, but are welcome to step out to cool off or unwind while someone else is in charge of your child.
Other things to note are that your child may act differently during his or her session. This could mean if you have a tough sleeper they zonk right out for pictures, or if you have a quiet baby they could fuss more during their session. Baby will likely eat more often during the session, too. There is nothing uncomfortable happening for your baby, they are just experiencing something new and aren't sure how to act, some go with the flow, others put up a little fight. I assure you the my experience and skill in this craft is all about making sure your baby is safe and comfortable, always. And in my experience, following the session, you'll leave with a tired and content little babe!
Most importantly: relax, have fun and enjoy your session. I welcome you to snap photos on your phone during our session, or take a nap! Don't let any of these steps feel daunting or stressful. Our session will go best with a happy baby and a happy mommy! The first days home are the hardest to navigate, feel free to reach out with anything, even if it's not photography related!