By Danielle Vivian Photography
New parents, family members, and friends are always so surprised when they learn just how young a baby has to be to star in their newborn photos, you know, the ones where they're all curled up and look so tiny. Most people would say that newborn stage lasts up to two to three months, I mean they call it the fourth trimester for a reason, right?! However, in the photography world ideally a baby is somewhere in the range of 6-14 days old! Yep, that means that, in most cases, the newborn photography experience is only their first or second trip out of the house once coming home from the hospital.
Why so young? Well, the answer is pretty simple. Babies fresh from the womb are very sleepy and pretty malleable which is important for newborn photos. When babies are first born their bones are still soft from being cooped up in the womb and then undergoing the experience of labor and delivery. This means they’re the most flexible as they're gonna get which is why they can comfortably be curled up in those adorable poses. Not only do these positions allow for easy swaddling for all those precious wrapped up all snug portraits you see, but their natural tendencies, like keeping their hands close to their face with their legs tightly crossed in the most precious way, are most optimal in this stage. You can see many examples of sweet babies like this on my website.
Another reason why newborn photos should be scheduled within those first two weeks of life is because week three is when most babies go through their first growth spurt, waking up and wanting nothing more than to fill their bellies with milk. They tend to be more alert and fussier during this stage not only because they’re ravenous, but because they still don't have control of those finicky limbs, startle easily, and can't really see too far. Other less-than-lovely perks of week three and beyond include baby acne, peeling/flakey skin and, worse, colic, that gas-induced fussiness. Thanks to all of that, those first couple weeks really are the gold standard for newborn photography, plus they are as small as they'll ever be and you want to capture you little one in all their adorable glory.
Like all rules, however, this one does come with exceptions. Babies born prematurely, which is often the case with twins, can be photographed past the two- week point. Preemies tend to stay sleepy longer than full term babies since they're technically still in the last trimester before their due date. Their bellies are still developing and their desire for more milk is less intense in those first few weeks. In these cases, we can be much more flexible in scheduling their session. Its recommended that newborn photos are scheduled for within 5 days of their actual due date, however this always will depend on your baby's health as well.
Does this mean that if you're past these windows, you can't have beautiful portraits of you baby? Absolutely not, we all know that life doesn't always go quite to plan, but an older newborn is still just as sweet and can definitely still be photographed. You may just have to adjust your expectations a little. Older babies may not sleep their entire session, but those awake photos can be darling! They also might not want to curl up in some of those poses or may prefer being swaddled up. Whatever their preferences turn out to be, we can still get some lovely photos that you will cherish forever.
So, when should I book?
With all these unknown facts, I recommend booking your newborn photos well before you little one makes the grand debut. It’s one less thing to have to think about when all you really want to do in those first few days is snuggle your baby and catch up on some sleep. Ideally, we can start discussing dates for newborn photos towards the end of your second trimester. Of course, you don’t know exactly when they will make their entrance . Not to worry—I’ve created a system that works pretty well to reserve a slot: We simply book two tentative dates based off of your actual due date and keep in touch after each doctor’s appointment from 36 weeks on. This way, I’ll know what your doctor is thinking, so we can make any necessary adjustments if need be. And, of course, once your baby arrives, make sure I’m in the know. While it’s a lot of keeping in touch in those last few weeks of your pregnancy, it will ensure that just like your baby, your session will be timed perfectly. Plus, I love keeping up with my expecting mommas as they near this momentous and exciting new chapter.
If you’re interested learning more about newborn photography or would like to reserve your own session be sure to fill out the contact form below and I will be in touch soon to chat!