Babies are adorable at any age. But newborn photo sessions are an investment and one important element of a successful photo session is scheduling it when your baby is the right age. So when is the best time to schedule newborn photos?
The goal of a photo session at this stage is to capture your first days with your brand new, will never be this small again, sleepy perfect baby. Of all the baby stages, the newborn stage goes the fastest. It is the beginning of your time together and one that you have only a couple of weeks to document.
During the first few weeks of life babies love sleeping, being curled up like they were in the womb, being swaddled and being held so newborn pictures generally capture these things.
Most newborn photographers book sessions in advance based on due date and accept a limited number of due dates per month to accommodate early and late arrivals, with dates typically reserved 3-4 months in advance.
The earlier you book, the better your chances of booking your first choice photographer so finding a newborn photographer is a great thing to check off your to-do list in your second trimester.
If you are interested in maternity photography, many newborn photographers offer discounts when booking both sessions together. A maternity session is also a great way to get to know your newborn photographer before your baby arrives and have cohesive photos from both sessions.
The ideal time to schedule newborn photos is when your baby is between 1 and 4 weeks old.
During this period babies love sleeping, being curled up like they were in the womb, being swaddled and being held. They sleep long stretches of the day. These things that newborns naturally do at this stage make for beautiful photos and a fairly stress free photo session. Are there times a baby might need some soothing or a feeding? Sure. But for the most part they love being held and if they are warm and feed they are happy.
In general newborns are sleepiest in the very early days. If you are booking a photographer that does a posed style of newborn photography requiring the baby to be in a deep sleep they may want you to bring the baby in as early as possible or prefer a specific age range.
Personally after 15 years as a newborn photographer, I have found there is not a magic number of days old that will guarantee a baby in a deep sleep. Some babies are grumpy and struggling with feeding issues at 7 days. Some babies are more alert from day one. Some sleep long stretches of the day for weeks and weeks.
My style of newborn photography is more relaxed and focused on how babies are naturally comfortable at this age so I am not as concerned about baby being in a deep sleep.
In my experience, a newborn session anytime in the first four weeks of baby’s life will result beautiful newborn style pictures. I prefer to allow my clients flexibility in terms of what works best with their baby.
For babies born early the window for newborn style photos is longer. Generally when baby is between 6 and 8 pounds is ideal.
C-sections involve more recovery time and as a c-section mama myself I recommend scheduling your newborn session when your baby is about 3 weeks old to allow yourself the necessary time to recover and feel photo ready.
At this age babies are starting to look less “newborn”. They have gained 2-3 pounds which is significant with an average birth weight of 6-8 pounds. Most full-term babies are no longer comfortable in curled up womb like positions at this point. They are more alert and more sensitive to being moved around as they sleep than younger newborns. They are not yet sleeping through the night, are still taking multiple naps a day and are not yet on a predictable enough nap schedule to plan a photo session for an awake period.
One to two months old is an in between age where baby has outgrown many newborn things but is not yet doing big baby things like holding their head up or smiling.
Babies are incredibly sweet and precious at this age. No question. But what they can do and what their schedules look like at this stage does not line up as well with being photographed as earlier or later stages. For these reasons many parents choose to wait until baby is 4-6 months old to schedule a photo session.
If your baby is already here and you suddenly had a change of heart about newborn photos, you are not alone! Please don’t hesitate to reach out about session availability. I am often able to fit in last minute sessions if other babies have arrived early or late. If at all possible I will try to get you scheduled while baby is younger than a month old.
Of all the baby stages, the newborn stage goes the fastest. If at all possible, you should find and book a newborn photographer before your baby arrives. The session itself should be scheduled when baby is between 1 and 4 weeks old.
I hope this information about when to schedule a newborn session has been helpful.
Additional information about newborn photography at my Boston studio can be found here:
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Beth, these are such helpful tips for expecting parents! And what beautiful newborn sessions! I love your work!
Beautiful photos, Beth! And all such helpful information about the best time for newborn photography–the way you’ve explained it makes so much sense.
These are great tips Beth! I remember when i was pregnant with my first i had no idea when to schedule newborn photos!