In-home Lifestyle Newborn Sessions with Captured Austin

How to prepare for your newborn session:

Let’s be honest, you can’t ever be FULLY prepared for a newborn baby, or any of the events surrounding the arrival of your new family member. For this reason, I try to keep my newborn sessions super flexible and revolve them around the comfort of you and your new baby- and especially any toddler-age older siblings that might be involved! As a mother of two, I remember how foggy and disorganized those first few weeks can feel, and I want my families to know I have nothing but complete understanding and compassion for that.

mom and dad snuggling with newborn

That said, I do know it helps to know a little bit about what’s in store for your newborn session once you’ve got it booked. A lot of parents are worried about what to wear. My advice is always that comfort comes first. My sessions are all about the connections and the reality of a new baby, so it doesn’t make a ton of sense to worry about perfect formal outfits. Many of my moms wear jeans (which always impresses me!) or leggings with bare feet and a comfy flowy top. A soft casual dress is also a great option. Something you’d normally wear at home with your baby will look most natural in the photos.

newborn lifestyle family shot in nursery
mom and babies in nursery

So what about dad? My answer to this is always the same- jeans, bare feet, and a sold tee. A collared shirt is fine too, if that’s a more natural look for him. I don’t usually suggest dressy slacks or shoes. But again, this is your session and if you are more formal daily dressers, I am all for it! I do love the look of a dad in comfy clothes snuggling his new baby, though.

dad and newborn

Should I dress the baby??

The baby doesn’t need any clothes! They’re so so tiny when they’re new that outfits often swallow them up. I think they look best in just a diaper or swaddled in a cute blanket. If a onesie is small enough and doesn’t cover their legs and feet, I think that looks super cute too- as long as it’s tight enough on their little body to not distract from the details.

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How do I prepare the baby for the session?

It’s a common perception that newborns need to be asleep for their photo sessions. This is true for a posed session- but not a lifestyle session! I love to get a good mix of awake and asleep photos of the baby. So good news- you don’t have to worry about keeping baby awake or trying to be on any sort of schedule for your session! I aim to arrive just as you are finishing a feeding, so that the baby can get changed and burped and settled just as we are ready to start. Usually, they will then be awake for a few minutes and then either fall asleep or get fussy (at which point we can pause to soothe them to sleep). The only reason I like to put a baby to sleep during the session is so that s/he doesn’t get overtired. A bath earlier in the day before the session can be a good idea to clean up oily hair or crusty skin- but it is not necessary. I do like to wipe their eyes and face so it is good to have handy whatever you like to use for that. A damp washcloth or water wipe works well.

Prior to the session, I recommend undressing the baby for their feeding, and then just wrapping them in a blanket after- this prevents any red marks on their skin from wrinkles or elastic in their clothes and makes it easier to transition to the photo session after the feeding.

Will you pose the baby?

Short answer: not really.

Long answer: I used to pose babies but realized I was trying to fit a style of newborn photography into my sessions that didn’t really fit with my philosophy or style. However, I do still think it is important to get that beautiful, detailed “birth announcement” shot for parents if they want it. I now use a style of newborn posing which I call “baby-led posing”, meaning I will place the baby in good lighting and let him/her settle into a comfortable position, then I might guide their hands or feet into place if they let me. If the baby is awake and happy, that is totally fine! I don’t require the babies to sleep. I just wrap them up in a cute swaddle and capture as many cute expressions as I can. Sometimes babies do start to get over-tired, though, and at that point I may suggest soothing them to sleep just so we aren’t keeping him awake longer than we should. I find that the portraits I take using this strategy are much more true to lifestyle newborn photography and that babies look most content and peaceful in natural positions.

What about my house???

Please do NOT worry about making your house look perfect! I have no problem moving clutter just out of the way for a shot. I would much prefer relaxed parents to a perfectly tidy house! Additionally, I don’t always know which room we will be in most of the time since it’s completely dependent upon lighting, so I hate for tired new parents to use their energy cleaning an area that we will not use!

The only suggestion I make as far as your home is to set your thermostat a little warmer so that the baby will be more likely to settle and be calm and comfortable since s/he won’t be wearing clothes.

I’m worried about my toddler cooperating!

This is the number one concern I get from parents of newborns with older siblings. And I will be the first to admit it CAN be challenging to get a toddler to cooperate during such a huge transition in their life. Rest assured that is COMPLETELY normal. I see it every time, and I do everything I can to keep the toddler feeling comfortable. Sometimes (almost always) this includes letting them take breaks and go play while we carry on with the photo session as if it’s no big deal. Often, they will get curious and eventually participate. I can get a lot more great shots of a happy toddler in three minutes than an unhappy one in three hours! The most important thing is for everyone to stay relaxed and flexible with the new big brother/big sister. It’s great to talk it up before hand- you can tell them another mommy is coming over with her camera to take some pictures of the family. Use bribery with caution- sometimes this just indicates we are asking them to do something terrible and puts even more pressure on them and can lead to a meltdown! But you know your child and I will generally follow your lead on what you think will work best. It’s best to not have a certain sibling/family image in your mind and instead just see what they give us when they’re genuinely interested in participating- often it’s sweeter than we could have imagined ourselves.

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Emily Hines