March 23, 2022

Minneapolis Photographer’s Newborn Session Survival Guide

If you’re reading this, that likely means that you have a new baby on the way! Congrats, friend! Having personally gone through a season of loss, I am a firm believer that each & every single baby is such an absolute miracle! I’m genuinely soooo happy for you! 

As you gear up for this new season of life— I’m sure you’re thinking about alllllllll the things. I am actually currently 28 weeks pregnant with our rainbow baby as I write this, so I know from experience that the brain is all over the place in this season (or is that just me?!). One of the things a lot of people think about at some point is newborn photos. Knowing how fast it all goes, we all want that precious season of life documented to look back at for years to come. Maybe you’ve already booked a session or maybe you’re just starting your hunt. Either way, I’m here to share some helpful tips with you when it comes to all things newborn photography. Think of this as your mini “newborn session survival guide” from your local Minneapolis newborn photographer.

THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE THE SESSION

+ Book your session before your baby arrives. After baby gets here, your time & energy are going to be taken up by your new little love (as they should be). So do yourself a favor and book your session well before your due date so it’s one less thing to think about when baby gets here. 

+ Newborn sessions typically take place anytime after 10 days of age. I would say on average, my newborn clients book their newborn sessions between 10 days and 4 weeks of age. I’ve also done newborn sessions as late as 3-4 months after birth. It all depends on what you personally want. Sometimes waiting a little bit longer can be beneficial in the sense that you might have things kinda figured out (I mean we never have them fully figured out, right?). 😉 You also might be a tiny bit less sleep deprived & know more about baby’s schedule. It’s ultimately up to you, but being a lifestyle newborn photographer— know it’s not integral that the photos take place soooo close to birth like a lot of the more “posed & propped” newborn photographers will tell you. 

+ Sessions often take place in your home. More often than not, I like to shoot newborn sessions in my clients’ homes. It’s typically easiest for them as they’re navigating this new season. It gives the parents one less thing to think about (packing baby up & driving somewhere). Bonus points that newborn shoots in your home are so meaningful because there isn’t a more personal place than among your own 4 walls. 

+ Sessions can also take place in a local studio. Maybe you don’t love your home or it doesn’t have great lighting— this is when we look into renting out a natural light studio for your newborn session. I will provide a list of options if you decide to go this route. 


THINGS TO KNOW AS YOU PREP YOUR HOME FOR THE SESSION

+ Lighting. I like to shoot with all overhead lights off (and use solely natural light). Mixing natural window light + artificial light can be a bit tricky. So that means any lamps, overhead lighting, etc. Also if you have time- it’d be awesome if you could open up any curtains/blinds before the shoot starts. 

+ Music or noise! In-home shoots are made even better with some tunes to set the mood. Have a playlist or station ready of your favorite music. Trust me, having some background noise is really helpful in the home setting! If there is a type of music that seems to calm your baby (no matter if it’s classical, country, pop or baby shark..)— that’s the music you’ll want to play. If they seem to prefer white noise— that is 100% fine too!

+ Heat. You know this already, but newborn babies don’t like to be cold. Consider bumping the heat up in your home before the shoot so that the baby is as comfortable as possible (another option would be to have a portable heater going!).

+ Clean up the clutter, but don’t stress too much about a pristine house. The last thing you probably want to do is spend time cleaning your whole house. I get it. Buuuut I will say that your photos will turn out much better without all the clutter that often comes with bringing a new baby home. Do your best to get your home feeling “tidy” (even if that means throwing some things into the basement for a couple hours). Consider removing anything super bright colored that might be a distraction, trash cans, dirty laundry & any other clutter that accumulates. But do not feel the need to deep clean or spend a ton of time on this. Your session should not add a bunch of stress to your day. 


THINGS TO KNOW AS YOU PREP YOURSELVES FOR THE SESSION

+ What to wear. Not sure what to wear? Check out this blog post & this pin board for some inspiration. Some of the images might not apply exactly to a newborn session, but overall just pay attention to colors/tones, patterns, textures, etc. of the outfit combinations. I also love to offer the opportunity for an outfit change halfway through the session (Only if desired! I know that changing a newborn can add stress, so no pressure!) Also, can I just add that a baby in a diaper is one of the cuuuuutet things— so do not overthink what they wear! They could be in a paper bag & look cute. 😉 If you want nakey-baby photos— be sure to loosen their diaper up 30-ish mins before the shoot so that they don’t have diaper marks.

+ Set your outfits out ahead of time. Consider setting your outfits out the night before and maybe even have a few options so that we can choose what outfit might look best (or just in case your little one decides to blow out the first outfit.. haha). Feel free to send through photos of your outfits ahead of time if you’re having a hard time deciding. I can help guide you on what I think might look best based on my experience. We will be getting all nice and cozy at your home, so be sure you are comfortable. 

+ Feeding. I always suggest feeding your baby right before the shoot is scheduled to start. In my experience doing newborn shoots, that has worked best. If we need to take breaks during- don’t stress! It happens allll the time. We are on your baby’s schedule. 🙂 Also on the topic of feeding, I’ve had some mamas request photos of them breastfeeding their babes. I am 100% comfortable with that and have done it many times before, so just let me know if that’s something you’d want a couple shots of. These are, of course, private photos & will be treated as such.

+ Meaningful items. If you have meaningful things that your baby has received as a gift or that you got him/her that you want to make sure get included in a few shots, have that ready. (even if just for a couple detail shots!) 

+ Please don’t stress (& leave your expectations at the door). Newborn babies are truly unpredictable. They might be fussier than normal. They might not cooperate exactly as you had hoped. They might spit up all over the outfit you envisioned them wearing within the first 5 minutes. IT’S OK! Trust me when I say there will still be photos within your gallery that you love (you might be surprised by how many we can get even with a fussy baby!). Stressing out is only going to make things worse. Babies pick up on our energy, so do your best to remain calm and relaxed throughout the session. You got this, mama/daddy! 

THINGS TO HAVE ON HAND DURING YOUR SESSION

+ Change of clothes (for both you & baby just in case)

+ Diapers & wipes

+ Cute diaper or bloomers if you want diaper pics

+ Burp cloth

+ Pacifier 

+ Blanket or swaddle

+ Noise machine if desired

+ Portable heater if you’re worried about your baby being cold

+ Any other soothers that seem to work well for your baby

+ Milk (bottle or boob) 😉 

+ Water for you!


Ok, friend— I hope this little newborn session survival guide is helpful to you as you make plans for your sweet babe’s newborn session. I promise you, there is nothing to stress over. It might feel overwhelming & like there a lot of things, but by reading this— you are already more prepared & ready than most people. 😉 I’m here for you as a resource whenever you need! 

Happy baby snuggling! 

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I am a Minneapolis, Minnesota wedding, family & portrait photographer, kindness spreader and storyteller for laid-back, free-spirited souls who are looking for an adventure— no matter how big or small. Browse my site to learn more. I can’t wait to meet you!

@nicoleashleyphoto