In the first of a series of blog posts exploring the world of newborn photography, I’m going to explain how to prepare your baby for a successful newborn portrait session. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as just turning up with your tiny new baby who seems to do nothing but eat and sleep at home; there’s some really important preparation that parents need to do in order to make sure your new arrival is sleepy and content enough to be posed into those adorable little positions! There are two key things we need to work on (you’d never have guessed it) – sleeping and eating!
Sleep like a baby… (Who even came up with that phrase anyway?!)
Do your best to keep your baby awake in the hours prior to arrival at the studio.
Although we’ll undoubtedly be able to get a couple of cute shots of your bright-eyed awake baby, to have a really successful portrait session we need to get your little one to go into a really deep sleep. Dozing off just isn’t enough for what we need as they’ll end up stirring and potentially need comforting in between every pose (You really don’t want this to happen as it’ll slow everything right down and really limit the variety you’re going to have to choose your final prints from). But if your baby’s in a deep enough sleep, they’re barely going to bat an eyelid whilst I work my magic. By keeping your baby awake for a while before you arrive, hopefully they will well and truly zonk out when we need them to.
Plan to give a full feed on arrival
Babies don’t do a whole lot during those first few weeks; when they’re not sleeping, they’re more than likely going to be eating! What we’re aiming for is to give baby a full feed on arrival at the studio; this may mean that you’ll have to rearrange their feeding schedule so that it has been at least a couple of hours (adjust to your own baby’s feeding frequency) before you arrive. If you absolutely find that you need to feed them beforehand, ensure that you can top them up with a bit more milk on arrival.
Sorry mum, watching what you eat doesn’t end yet…
Breastfed babies can be affected by the nursing mother’s diet and certain foods can cause them to have an uncomfortable tummy. To avoid an unsettled baby, please avoid these common culprits in the 48 hours before your photoshoot:
- Gassy foods such as onions, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage or cauliflower
- Acidic foods such as citrus fruits (e.g. lemons, oranges, and grapefruit) and tomato sauces – yes this includes spaghetti, lasagne and pizza L
- Spicy foods – stay off the hot peppers and vindaloos!
- Caffeine. I’m not just talking coffee and sugary drinks here; unfortunately, this means chocolate too! OK, OK I may be asking too much here – you can limit these rather than avoid altogether! I practically lived on chocolate whilst breastfeeding. Er… I still do to be fair.
PS. It can be really obvious when this advice isn’t followed! ; – )
My newborn photography sessions generally take between two and four hours. Yes, I know it sounds like a long time but it just means that we’ll have plenty of flexibility to feed and comfort your little one as required. Bring anything you’re likely to need for that length of time away from home such as drinks or snacks (there’ll be some of these available in the studio), formula, medications etc. The studio will be kept nice and warm so that your baby doesn’t get too cold, however this might be uncomfortable for you if you wear thick clothing. I advise wearing layers so you can take some off if needs be.
I try to include family photos in all of my newborn sessions so I recommend getting your hair and make-up done if you’re feeling up to it. If not, then I have a couple of go-to photographs I can try that you’ll love, even if you aren’t feeling particularly camera-ready.
Try to dress your baby in loose clothing so that it doesn’t leave any big marks. If I can avoid having to Photoshop something, I will!
If your baby has lots of hair, it’s a good idea to give it a wash. Sometimes it can appear a little greasy in photographs.
If your baby takes a dummy at all (or even if you’re only considering using one at this stage), then please bring it along. It can be a lifesaver if baby gets a little unsettled for any reason. I will have white noise available in the studio but if you’ve got something you know works for your little one, then feel free to bring it along – I’m talking Ewan the Sheep here, not your free-standing fan or vacuum cleaner!
Finally, even if you follow these instructions to the letter, some babies just like to go against the grain and will instead take a stab at their PB for most time awake! Don’t worry, it happens. Normally, we’ll be able to capture a full gallery regardless, but if we’re struggling to get the photos you want, then we can always rebook for another time.