Newborn Sessions: What to Expect

Preparing for a Newborn Session

LET’S PENCIL YOU IN!
I recommend that you schedule your newborn session PRIOR to your baby’s birth to ensure a spot on the calendar. Contact me during your second trimester and I’ll pencil you in. Then, shoot us me an email (stephanieparkerphotography@gmail.com) soon after you deliver so we can arrange a time for the session.

NEWBORN AGE
A newborn is just that – a newly born baby. It is used to being in a womb that is close to one hundred degrees, and is used to being squished up. Newborns are very bendable and posable, and they will let you work with them as long as you keep them warm and fed and dry. Try to schedule newborn sessions within the first two weeks of life to make it easier.

However, the I prefer to photograph babies around 8-12 days after their arrival. The main reason is to ensure the baby is eating well, as a hungry baby will not cooperate for a session. We’ll be moving them around and scrunching them into those sweet sleepy newborn images, so we want to make sure they’re sleepy enough to allow us to handle them.

LOCATION
Newborn sessions are typically taken at my home studio in Christiansburg, VA. All the props are easily assessable, I can keep the room warm enough for our session, and everything is set up and ready to go! However, in-home sessions can be scheduled too.

SLEEPY BABY
We want a sleepy baby to get those cute newborn poses. We’ll want to do everything possible to help the baby sleep. Below are some suggestions:

Interact with your baby to try to keep him/her awake 1-2 hours before our session. It’s ideal to schedule the baby’s feeding about 2-3 hours before arriving so they can feed again just before the session starts. A tired baby with a full tummy is a very sleepy, cooperative baby! Feed as much as possible 12 hours before the session, that way baby will be really full and sleepier. Remember to burp the baby as well, because gas will make them uncomfortable and they can get fussy. If baby is bottle feeding, please bring extra bottles and milk (formula or breast milk).

For nursing Moms, be careful with what you eat for about a day leading up to the session. Spicy foods can make the baby uncomfortable or upset their tummy.  And an upset tummy will always mean lots of tears and little sleep!

The studio will be very warm. Babies are very sensitive and because most poses will be in the nude, it’s best to keep them comfortable. Typically we keep the room 80+ degrees to keep the baby happy. I suggest that parents come to the session dressed in layers so that they can comfortably remove some clothing if they feel the room is too warm.

OTHER TIPS
Newborns know what their parents and siblings smell like. Often this smell can keep them from falling into that deep sleep, so sometimes it is best to step back so the baby isn’t disturbed for the individual shots.

Baby should have on loose clothing that won’t leave marks in the skin, and their diaper should also be on loosely so it doesn’t leave wrinkles in the skin.

PATIENCE
Newborn sessions can last anywhere from 2-4 hours. It all depends on baby’s mood and willingness to sleep. Unfortunately… this isn’t something we can predict! Stay calm should he/she not want to sleep, since your baby will pick up on any frustration in the room. If sleep doesn’t happen, that’s okay! Wide-eyed newborn photos are beautiful too.


WHAT TO EXPECT

A newborn session is nothing like a regular session. It can take you up to twenty minutes or more to pose a newborn into a certain position. They need to be in a deep sleep so they don’t move, so often you will have to move them the way you want them, and then sit there and hold and coo them until they are fast asleep. This takes time, and for that reason, a newborn session can last you up to 4 hours or more depending on the child. I average anywhere from 5-10 photos an hour per session, and you shouldn’t expect to get much more if you are handling the baby safely and working carefully and slowly.

POOP HAPPENS!
Your baby is going to be in the nude for the majority of this shoot. Please don’t panic if your baby decides to use our blankets (or me) as his/her own personal potty. This is natural and expected! Please don’t feel embarrassed or worry when this happens, because they all do it. I wash all baby props and blankets between each session with non-scented detergent. I suggest bringing extra pair of cloths if you plan on pictures with the baby, just in case!

PROPS
I have a collection of bowls, baskets, blankets, knit hats and headbands that we can use for our session. You are also, of course, welcome to use any of your own props. Looks for items with texture and color to help make your images unique.

If you have any family heirlooms, toys, hats, props, etc. that you would like me to use in your session, please gather them before we arrive. We may not get the chance to use ALL of the items, but we’ll look through them with you to determine what will work best.

WHAT TO WEAR
Solid, neutral colors photograph best. For parent pictures, a neutral bone color backdrop, gray, or black is typically used. Skin-on-skin portraits with you holding the baby against you are always simple and timeless. Consider a strapless or tank top for these. Moms- go have your hair & makeup done, schedule a massage or have your nails done. Looking super relaxed and at your best will make you feel more comfortable during the session. This is an exciting time in your life and we want to capture all of that, so take care of yourself first!

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