share this post:
There is just something extra sweet about the authenticity of in-home newborn sessions. They are beautifully imperfect and filled with genuine snuggles, laughter, and the occasional craziness (we are being authentic here, after all). I know it can feel overwhelming to think about preparing your home and family for a photographer to come over–especially while you’re still operating in postpartum survival mode! But I promise it will be painless and the memories captured will be some of your most cherished possessions. In order to set your family up for the smoothest experience possible, I’ve put together a few ideas for you to consider as you are preparing for your in-home newborn session!
I honestly do not need baby to be in a deep sleep for the session, like you would need to accomplish for a posed studio session. But we DO want a warm, content baby with a nice full belly! Do what you can to keep the morning leading up to my arrival as chill and un-stimulating as possible. Give baby a full feed as close to my arrival as fits in with baby’s routine. Keep a sound machine handy if you have one, as well as baby’s favorite pacifiers (I try not to photograph pacifiers, but they can be useful to pop in/out of baby’s mouth between shots if needed).
We will be taking natural-looking shots of baby both alone and with family members. Most of the time baby will be swaddled, with just a diaper underneath. Especially if babe is awake, they tend to do what I call the velociraptor pose whenever they’re lying down unwrapped! I bring several stretchy knit swaddles and a couple solid muslin swaddle options with me to choose from, though you are welcome to use your own favorite swaddle. I adore the soft stretchy Lou Lou and Copper Pearl swaddles (bonus – they are the best at keeping baby from escaping, so they are just practical to have for every day as well, in my personal opinion!).
If you would like some un-swaddled shots of baby wearing clothes, I LOVE a good soft neutral gown, footed sleeper with snaps, or fitted romper for photos. Overall you can’t go wrong with snug-fitting, soft, stretchy fabrics in neutral tones. Please resist the urge to put baby in two-piece outfits! Little baby jeans and sweaters are dang cute on a hanger, but they just never fit a newborn right and get bunched up around their faces.
Siblings can sometimes be THE most challenging part of the shoot…but those sweet shots of them snuggling baby are always my favorite!
When preparing for your newborn session, please don’t forget to also prepare baby’s siblings by simply taking a minute to talk with them about what to expect. Do this preferably before I walk into your home. Often siblings need a minute or two (or several) to warm up to me, and I always allow them to do that in their own time. Some siblings will be ready and eager to jump into the action right away, and others aren’t ready to participate until the very end. For those that truly do not want to have anything to do with photos, this is one instance where bribery is perfectly acceptable and effective for a photo session! I will NOT judge! Hand out those non-messy little treats as we go, or have a snack and/or movie ready for big siblings to enjoy after their part in the session is done. A fun trick I have used myself with a particularly strong-willed 4-year-old of my own……have a small, WRAPPED gift ready for them to open as their reward for participating. Something about getting to unwrap the prize seems to work wonders on even the most resistant of kiddos. 😉
Preparing Your Home
This is kind of an oxymoron in the weeks you’re attempting to parent a newborn, amiright?? But trust me when I tell you that a perfectly styled design aesthetic is never necessary, and I am definitely not expecting you to have a sparkling clean and clutter-free home. If you get a chance before I arrive, just try to shove any extra clutter hanging out near windows/counters/end tables over to the side of the room OPPOSITE of the windows (or into a closet) and also away from the head of the master bed. I have no problem doing this myself once I arrive, so do not sweat it if you don’t get to it before I show up!
Try to make sure the thermostat is set to ~75-76 degrees about 30 minutes prior to my arrival. This just helps baby stay comfy and warm during clothing changes and diaper-only shots. If you think of it, go ahead and open up all the blinds and curtains, as I will be using only natural light for our session.
If you don’t already, it’s nice to have a centrally-located diaper change station ready for baby. You can lay out any clothing, swaddles, and accessories you might want to incorporate into the session in that spot so we don’t lose track of anything. The dining room table works just as well for this too!
Weather permitting, we might get some shots outside as well. The front porch, backyard, and any shaded areas can sometimes create beautiful backdrop and lighting!
When planning your outfit, focus first on comfort. Soft, stretchy, flowy maxi dresses always look amazing, but sometimes leggings and a comfy lounge top can look just as perfect, to be quite honest! If you’re breastfeeding, there’s a good chance you’ll need quick access for that at points throughout our session, so also keep that in mind.
I know postpartum can be a tricky time when it comes to putting real clothes on your body! I am always extra intentional when it comes to the angles I shoot from, and I promise you will look beautiful in your photos regardless of what you’re wearing.
Dad should prioritize comfort, too! A solid cotton tee paired with jeans/long pants is perfect for photos.
Above all, r-e-l-a-x and savor the moment. Remember that our goal is to capture your precious family just as they are, at this very temporary moment in time. Sometimes that means ornery older siblings and hyperactive dogs and less than perfect home decor. And that’s OK! When I’m taking your photos, I am often thinking about the emotions they will convey and the memories they will spark when you look at these images years down the road. It’s my hope that they genuinely represent the depth and fullness of your love for your babies and the joy that’s present in your home, even amidst the sleeplessness and chaos. That’s the good stuff, friends!
Ready to document those sweet, sleepless newborn days in your home through photos? I’d love to talk with you more about booking a lifestyle newborn session!