People always ask me, “How do you get those babies to sleep like that?”. The answer is – good preparation! I make sure that my clients are fully prepared for the morning of their session. I send specific instructions on how to help ensure a sleepy baby. Granted there are other uncontrollable factors (tummy issues, general fussiness, nasal congestion/stuffiness, etc.) that can cause a baby to fight sleep during their session, generally all of my babies fall asleep…at some point! Brennan pictured above was a fighter…but he was getting over being sick and at 20 days old he did quite well (as evidenced by this sweet image!). Here are 7 tips for preparing for your session:
- Do not let your baby nap immediately before the session. I have had some clients come in and say “Oh they were sleeping so well this morning, I wonder what’s wrong? They aren’t normally like this.” You should try and keep your baby up at least an hour before the session (if not longer) so that when they arrive, they are ready for their nap. Most will fall asleep in the car on the way over to the studio and stay asleep through most of the rest of the session.
- Dress your baby lightly in clothing that is easy to take off without waking. As soon as you arrive, I’ll ask you a few questions about your baby’s routine and if there are any concerns about reflux, etc. I will take your baby out of the car seat and slowly undress them and gently rock them back to sleep if they’ve stirred from being moved. I immediately begin posing if they are asleep. Once you arrive, I assume the care of your baby until they need mom for a feeding. I do all of the soothing and have mom and relax in the studio so she can watch and dad’s usually are in the living room with either a sibling or my remote control in hand. ;)
- Before you leave for the studio, give your baby a nice big full feeding. However you choose to feed your baby, make sure their bellies are full when they arrive so that we can begin immediately. Should your baby arrive awake and hungry, you will need to feed them to sleep before we begin. We will have 3 hours together and there is plenty of time for feedings and soothing. However, getting that nice big feeding in the beginning is crucial to having the rest of the session go well. Some babies will require another feeding in about 2-2.5 hours (right before parent/sibling shots they love to wake up!) and we will feed your baby again to get them nice and calm for the rest of your portraits. Some babies want to feed the entire session (may be a sign that they are not getting enough, especially if breastfeeding). Keep in mind that your baby may need an extra feeding during the session because we are asking a lot of them and frequently minorly disturbing them in their sleep. Make sure if you are bottle feeding, that you bring extra formula with you just in case. If you are breastfeeding and ok with giving a bottle of breast milk, please bring that as well.
- Don’t forget about yourselves!!! I know it will only be about 6-12 days after the birth of your baby but I will force you to get in front of the camera!! (Don’t even try to refuse! haha). You will highly regret not being in the images with your baby at this stage. I’ve never had anyone refuse (or even had to convince anyone yet) but there is always a first. Light makeup, decent hair and a black shirt and jeans is just fine. I’ll take care of the angles and photoshop can do the rest. ;)
- Things to bring: burp cloths, 2 receiving blankets, formula/breast milk, pacifier (even if they don’t take one, we’ll only use it for a few minutes to soothe them should they need it), nursing pillow (if needed) and a hat/headband keepsake (I give my clients a list of vendors that I love!).
- Things to not bring: additional people to the session who are not being photographed – my studio is small and extremely WARM, plus it’s my policy ;), excessive props – props are an addition to the session and not the main focus (and some props that parents bring might not work with a newborn), firearms (I get it, we’re in NC/the south, but I want to put it out there that I do not permit firearms or weapons in my home studio) – I’ve heard of other photographers in the area being asked to photograph them with their newborn among other odd items! If you have something specific in mind as far as a setup, please discuss this with me before the session. I will be happy to give my input on whether or not it’s safe or will work for your portrait session.
- Finally, let the photographer (that’s me!) know of any medical conditions or birthing complications before the session. During birth, things happen that I will need to know about (ie dislocated shoulder) in order to pose baby safely. If your baby is sick or has recently required oxygen, I will need to know that as well. We may opt to reschedule the session at a later date outside of the 12 day window. Health issues always trump my age requirement. Remember that I am here to provide you will beautiful quality images of your newborn baby and your family and as a nurse, safety is my top priority. I want you to feel confident in your decision to hire me as Raleigh’s trusted newborn photographer.