The amount of time that a fresh darling baby is considered a newborn is relative, it depends on the person you’re asking. So, that being said, what is the best age to do a newborn photoshoot? This blog post will go into the details, both technical and practical of planning a newborn photo session, and cover the most common questions that new parents often have in regards to scheduling their newborn photo session. Get ready for cuteness overload!
There’s a really important caveat in booking a newborn photo session. The caveat is this: The best time to book your newborn photo shoot is well before your baby’s due date, ideally in your second trimester.
Of course it’s next to impossible to know the exact date of your baby’s arrival, however looking ahead to your anticipated due date is the best way to ensure that your professional photographer has some availability open for you around the time of your baby’s birth.
Waiting until after your baby is born to schedule a newborn shoot is not an ideal time for these reasons:
-Good photographers tend to not have a ton of availability. If you wait until after your new baby has arrived, you are at the mercy of the schedule of your professional photographer.
-New parents tend to be very busy, phoning to schedule a newborn baby photoshoot shortly after a birth will likely be an unwanted and added hassle.
-Filling out a contact form does not guarantee that a photographer will get back to you right away, so, again, you’ll have to wait for that individual to get back to you, which could affect your photos, depending on how long you had to wait for a session date.
In my own experience of having 6 children, only 1 of them was born on their due date (because I went running the night before, which I highly do NOT recommend), the others came 3-7 days before their due dates.
As a mom, you may know that you tend to have your babies earlier than or later than your “due date”, however there are no guarantees and so planning ahead will make it so that you have certainty that you are able to capture gorgeous photos of your new babe with whoever you decide is the right photographer for you.
If you are planning to go the DIY newborn photography session route (which I have!), it is also important to plan ahead. Ideally, you would have spent a lot of time taking practice photos and getting acquainted with your camera so that you know how to use all of the settings and features.
If there is a professional newborn photographer whose photos you like or feel drawn to, during pregnancy is a great time to study some of the work they do, and figure out what types of props and set ups you can acquire to get a similar look in your own photos.
There is absolutely a bit of a learning curve, but if you give yourself enough time to learn and get comfortable, you can absolutely have amazing images of your child’s life (especially newborn life!) at a fraction of the cost of hiring a photographer!
If purchasing a new camera is out of budget for you, consider even borrowing one from a friend sometime in your 2nd trimester to practice with, and then again once your babe has arrived.
Choosing Your Photographer
Choosing the person who will take your newborn family portraits or photograph your fresh new baby is a very important decision! Not only is it an important time for newborn clients, but it is also a sacred time for a woman, who has become a new mom (no matter how many prior children she’s birthed).
Being given the privy of getting close to a family who is going through this transition is an honour, and as such, your photographer should come into your space with a deep understanding of that truth.
When selecting your professional newborn photographer, you want to make sure that you are knowledgeable about the policies (especially regarding cancellations or date changes), because things are often uncertain when it comes to birth, healing and the postpartum and newborn period.
The second trimester of pregnancy (or the very beginning of the third trimester) is the perfect time to start looking for an experienced newborn photographer who takes gorgeous photos, and has a style that you resonate with.
There are a lot of people out there who photograph babies for work, but not all of them are going to be in the style that you envision.
Depending on the availability of photographers in your region, you may have to interview and look into working with more than 1 photography company, so while it’s good to know who your first choice photographer is (and get in touch with them early!) it’s also super smart to have a 2nd and 3rd choice to look into just in case!
The postpartum period is no joke! Sometimes this time is referred to as the 4th trimester, when the new baby is getting used to being outside the womb and the body of the new mom is regaining its pre-pregnancy balance.
It is a special time of bonding and creating beautiful new family memories, and it is also is an intensely stressful time when a lot of things are new or different.
If you are wanting to have your newborn baby photoshoot done in those very first few days postpartum, it is a good idea to think ahead to make sure that there is a comfortable place for the mama to sit and rest, or take breaks as necessary while the baby photoshoot is happening.
The last thing that anyone would want is to interfere with the monumentous healing that the mother’s body is in the process of doing post child birth.
Early newborn phase baby photoshoot
This type of newborn shoot is typically done within the first couple of weeks of the baby being born. It is during these early weeks that a baby would have what is referred to as the “newborn look”. So this refers to that period of time when a tiny newborn baby still has the downy hair, they spend most of their time in deep sleep, and are still quite flexible.
Babies have smaller bones that are fused with cartilage, and more bones than an adult. In addition, their bodies need to be able to be moveable in order to fit through the birth canal, so it is for these reasons that newborn babies are so malleable and posable.
During the first 14 days of the newborn stage, a baby is able to be positioned into specific poses that require the extreme flexibility of a newborn.
Here is a newborn picture below that was taken within the first weeks of life of my 3rd son. You can see the different positions that his body was able to very easily move through, that were not possible once he had reached 2.5 weeks and further.
Older Newborns Baby Portraits
Older babies, that is 3 weeks and up, tend to have more awake time. They are getting more and more accustomed to life “on the outside”, and often it is around this time that their skin starts to respond to the outside environment with baby acne.
On the other side of that, it is around this time with older newborn babies that we typically begin to see more facial expressions.
So while there is less bodily flexibility, and less of that deep sleep that occurs right after birth, from the 3rd week of life up until a few months after birth is still a great time to do a newborn baby photoshoot.
As a mom, I know it is easy to feel like the opportunity has been missed if the photos were not done within those first (busy!) 2 weeks. In hindsight, my own and that of my fellow mom friends, photos of your child, whether it was an older baby or a freshly birthed one always become treasures once that person has grown out of the baby phase.
In the phot below, you can see a close up shot of the baby acne that my first son developed in his 3rd week of life. Seeing those tiny spots (I chose not to edit them out) brings back so many memories!
Newborn Baby Photo Shoot Location
This is an important detail that often gets missed when discussing when is the best time to take a newborn’s photos. Depending on where you live, taking a newborn outside can be more or less difficult. In situations where there is snow, there is warmth, car seats, packing bags, bottles, breast pumps, breast pads, diapers…and on and on…to worry about. If it is summer time, there is the issue, again, of heat, specifically overheating.
When planning your newborn photoshoot, take ample time to consider what will need to be organized in order for the postpartum mom and her new baby to travel comfortably, if it has been decided to go to the photographer’s studio for the photos.
A lot of women have sore perineums or cesarean wounds that need to be tended to, in addition to postpartum bleeding, lack of energy and milk coming in. For this reason, it is important to ask ahead of time if the necessary amenities will be available at the photography studio.
In addition to the location for this type of session, you will want to make sure to chat with your family photographer before hand about the best time of day to be doing your photos, no matter where the location.
Most photographers have a preferred time of day to do photos (based on the sun’s positioning). In situations where the preferred time of day isn’t available for a baby photoshoot, lights can always be brought in to make up for the lack of sunlight.
Special considerations in planning the date for your newborn photoshoot
If the newborn baby is not the first baby of the parents, it is important to also consider the ages and needs of the older siblings. Even if they, themselves are not babies, it can still be tricky to get a toddler or even an older child to cooperate for family photos.
In situations where a newborn session is happening for premature babies (this was my case when I delivered identical twins), there is a bit of extra time to capture those “very newborn” photos, where the downy hair and deep sleep is still present.
In these situations, there is also often extra concern about germs and underdeveloped immune systems, so this is one of those times to consider if an in-studio session (where lots of other people have been in and out of), is the best choice.
Typically when we think of “newborn photos” we jump immediately to shortly after birth. There are some other important milestones in a baby’s first year to capture photos of your baby. These times are just a good an age as right after birth to capture your newborn photos!
Here are some ideas:
*Starting to smile (2-3 months)
*Tummy time specifically when the baby becomes strong enough to lift up their head and look up
*Meeting family members for the first time (often times we don’t remember the first time we met someone. These are great pictures to tuck away and show to children as they grow older)
*Learning to crawl (9 months) When you sense that your baby is getting close to being able to crawl, you can call your photographer and plan your session within the next week or 2 if possible
*First time eating (4-6 months)
*Sitting up by themselves (6 months)
*First time swimming (even in the bathtub!)
*First birthday (cake smash photos are always fun!)
There are many options when it comes to planning your newborn photoshoot!
If you want Anne-Geddes style photos, where your baby is neatly folded and still has the agility they had in the womb, within the first 2 weeks of life is the best age for a newborn photoshoot.
As mentioned, there are many more opportunities following those first 14 days as well to capture beautiful newborn photos.
The most important thing is just that you take the photos, professional or not, first 14 days or not. Being able to look back on those first days is a beautiful gift that you will be able to give to yourself, your child and future generations.
There is a teacher who talks about babies as being like acorns. In their tiny, concise little bodies is all the DNA and potential needed for them to grow into a giant oak tree.
I am always SO amazed when I grow a flower or a spaghetti squash. But a human? A HUMAN!!?
Aja Celeste is a mom to 6 beautiful children and a twin mom! She is also creator and writer of That Zoi Life and a professionally trained Evolutionary Astrologer who has been doing astrology for 7 years. She is also a health care assistant, has a Bachelor of Ministry Degree, and is passionate about supporting people in conscious parenting. She also does Psychosomatics using Recall Healing.
Please contact her at [info@ThatZoiLife.com] if you would like to find out more about working with her.