Some photographers have strict rules for when they choose to photograph newborns. Others will photograph an eight-week-old and consider it under the banner of a "newborn sessions." Some photographers will even photograph the birth or come to your hospital as soon as your baby arrives. So what are newborn photos exactly, when should you schedule them, and when's the ideal time to take them?
What is a Newborn Session?
A newborn session is different from birth photography and photos taken in the hospital (commonly referred to as a Fresh 48 Session, i.e. photos taken within the first 48 hours of baby's life). The majority of newborn photos are taken between 6-12 days old. Some newborn photos are taken as old as 3-4 weeks. I'd consider anything taken within the first month of baby's life to be true newborn photos.
NOTE: If you're wanting photos taken while you're still in the hospital, then you'll want to hire a birth photographer or a photographer who offers Fresh 48 sessions.
Choose a Flexible Photographer
I recommend first choosing a photographer who is willing to be flexible on timing. Choose someone who isn't overbooked and can roll with whatever happens. Maybe you end up having an unplanned c-section and need an extra week to recover. Or maybe you're an emotional wreck and would rather wait a couple extra weeks so you can enjoy having the photos taken. Choose a photographer who will prioritize your physical and mental health over her ideal time window.
Scheduling Your Session
Your photographer will want to know when you baby is expected to make his debut. Typically when hiring a Newborn Photographer, she will mark your due date on her calendar. But since only something like 5% of babies are actually born on their due dates (me being one of them), you'll let her know as soon as your baby arrives (this can be as simple as a one-word text from the hospital). Your newborn photographer will then let you know availability and you can choose your date and time.
Understand the Pros & Cons of Early Newborn Photos
When I say early, I mean in the 6-10 days old range.
PROS: Babies this age sleep a lot, so getting those sweet slumber photos will be easy. They are at their tiniest, so cuteness levels will be off the charts.
CONS: You will likely not be sleeping at all, so there's a good chance you'll be overwhelmed and crazy tired. You'll likely still be recovering and might be sore. Your uterus will be shrinking a crazy amount each day, and it will likely not be shrunk all the way at this point.
Understand the Pros & Cons of Older Newborn Photos
Here I'm talking about photos in the range of 3-4+ weeks.
PROS: You'll have had longer to recover. Your uterus will be smaller. (Because let's be real here, these photos are about your new love, but they're also about you. And you deserve to not feel so frumpy.) Baby will likely give you some eye contact, meaning you can get those wide-eyed wonder shots.
CONS: It may be harder to get baby to sleep (but a good photographer will be patient and will still be able to capture some sleeping shots). Baby might have some acne. Your photographer should let you know if this is something she is willing to touch up. My policy is I will remove anything that won't be present in two weeks.
So When is the Best Time for Newborn Photos?
Here's the kicker: Ideal timing for newborn photos will depend on the mom & baby. If it were me, for a single child birth and a smooth delivery, I'd plan to have my newborn photos taken at about two weeks old. This would give me slightly more time to recover while still getting photos of my new sweet babe in her tiniest state.
My disclaimer on this: Timing does matter...but only so much! There's really no wrong answer when it comes to photographing your baby. Listen to your body. Don't fret if you find you're not up for it right away. It's okay to wait. Photos taken when your baby is 3-4 weeks old may be slightly different, but they will be just as incredible.
A Note about Premies & Twins
These timelines talked about in this post will be different for premature babies and multiple births. For premature babies and twins, newborn photos can be taken when they are older. These babies will look like a typical newborn much later.
A Note about C-Sections
If you're planning to have a c-section or are concerned about what will happen if you need to have one, communicate with your photographer about your concerns. Be sure to hire one who runs her sessions in a parent-led and baby-led manner. This type of photographer will roll with the baby's mood and will photograph you in whatever position is most comfortable. A baby-led photographer will not rely on specific, predetermined poses, but will prioritize your baby's safety and your comfort when capturing those heart-melting shots.
Start Planning Your Newborn Photo Shoot
I recommend booking your newborn photographer at least a month before your due date. If you're jiving with me and would like to work together, here's how you can book with me:
Contact Minneapolis Newborn Photographer
I provide newborn photography all over the Twin Cities metro. I'm a baby-led newborn photographer. I focus on lifestyle and documentary-style photography, and I would describe my style as bright, natural, creamy, warm, candid, and detail-oriented. Click here to view some of my work.
Click "Connect" in the menu or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call me at 612.599.8349.