Newborn sessions aren't as easy as they look! People see the images and might think "Oh that can't be too hard" Trust me, it's not as easy as it looks... What you don't realize is all the little things we have in place to make sure these sessions go smoothly! We certainly don't wing it, we are always prepared.
You don't see us post images of newborns with open eyes that often. Why? Because they just look so peaceful when they are sleeping and when they are awake, they tend to make some pretty funny faces. Upon request we will take open eye images but for the majority of the time, we need them sound asleep! VERY sound asleep. They just look so squishy and innocent when they're asleep! They also hold poses a lot better when we've waited for them to fall asleep. This is why it's so important to schedule your newborn photos ahead of time. Once they reach 3-4 weeks it becomes a lot more challenging to pose them as they are transitioning out of that sleepy newborn phase.
So, what do we do to ensure that the baby sleeps while they are here? Oh the tips and trick we have up our sleeves! First off, babies love the warmth. I mean who doesn't, but babies LOOOVE the warmth. They are used to being in their mama's warm belly and warming up the newborn shooting area gives them that comfort they love. The "bean bag" we shoot on is layered with blankets. At the bottom of those layers, we have a heating pad. As soon as we are ready to shoot, that bag is already warm for the baby. We also blow heat in the direction of the newborn so they are surrounded by that comforting feeling which typically keeps them pretty sleepy!
Please note that you should NOT use these tricks at home where your baby will be left unsupervised. We never leave the baby unattended and we know when to give them a break from the heat. We also make sure that mama doesn't overheat in that area either as that can be dangerous so soon after having a baby.
Another easy trick we use is our shusher! If you don't have one already, we HIGHLY recommend getting one. Especially if shushing puts your baby to sleep fast. It will save you a lot of breath! They are sold on Amazon and seriously, they work wonders! Some babies really depend on that shushing noise to fall asleep here.
If we still can't get the little one to sleep and it's been awhile, we swaddle them up and take some pictures in props until they fall asleep. We always swaddle for prop shots anyway! Newborns love that tight feeling of knowing they are secure.
If you think you're a master swaddler, wait until you watch Marggie do it! If there were experts on swaddling, she would definitely be one! This is also the trick we use for older newborns that are outside of our typical newborn window (within 3 weeks of birth). If they are grown out of that sleepy newborn phase already, we can still capture them at this milestone, they just might be swaddled in all images. We always try to do posed shots first though. This is a last resort method and it's definitely still adorable! We do all that we can to deliver the most beautiful images.
Well that covers our tips and tricks used during the actual session, but that's certainly not where the prep starts! Preparation instructions are sent out to all newborn clients a few days before the session. These instructions request that they keep the baby up until they arrive (all newborn sessions are done in the A.M.) and that you feed 2-3 hours before you get here. Of course we would never ask clients to starve their little one, we just ask that they try to space out feeding time so that the next time they need to feed lines up with the clients arrival at the studio. That way we can get them all fed up and take advantage of that milk drunk sleepy phase right away! Most of the time, a fresh feed combined with the heat keeps the baby asleep through the whole session. Even through our moving and posing!
Another thing we can use is a pacifier. We ask that clients bring the soothie pacifiers from the hospital as they won't leave marks on their little ones face. Even if at the baby doesn't normally use a paci, we might only need it for an hour or two and that is not long enough to turn this into a habit for them. If clients are not comfortable with that, it's not a problem at all! This is also a last resort as once we give it to them, they sure notice when we pull it away for a shot.
See?! I told you! It's not as simple as it looks! Especially with easily startled babies. We put a lot of prep into making sure this session goes as smoothly as possible for all of us. You'd be surprised how much it effects the session if we don't do these things. Even just one! It's always worth it and we always win the fight ;) We know all the ways to make those little eyelids heavy.
See you next time!