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How to Prepare for a Lifestyle Newborn Session


Around the end of your second trimester is a perfect time to pencil in your newborn session. This guarantees you a spot on the calendar. Three to seven days after your baby arrives is the ideal time for a portrait session, but these can be done anywhere in the first fourteen days if necessary. We’ll be moving them around and putting them in dreamy scrunch positions, so we want to make sure they’re sleepy enough to handle. After two weeks they tend to discover the joy that is stretching! Once that happens, those sleepy, curly poses aren’t happening without a fight.

Photography of dads holding their newborn babies at a photo session.


If your little one’s skin is looking red and blotchy, that’s normal and don’t sweat it – all newborn photographers are very familiar with the light retouching of sweet baby faces. If you notice something a little more unusual, like cradle cap or a larger rash starting to form, reach out to your photographer immediately to discuss options for rescheduling after the rash subsides. For this reason, I recommend booking your newborn shoot within the first week of being home with your baby, so that you have a cushion of time within the “newborn session window” in case something like this happens.

Mom + Dad, you’ll also be a big part of these photos, so don’t forget to dedicate a little time to yourself. Keeping your hands moisturized and nails trim and tidy is key; hands are great props of their own. Pretty pretty please, take off watches + funky bracelets – simplicity is beautiful. I’m happy to give wardrobe suggestions, but a good rule of thumb is to wear something that’s nice, yet comfy – in no world would you wear an evening gown to feed your newborn, so don’t start for this shoot!

As for your little one’s wardrobe selection, I’m always a big fan of the simple swaddle, or if you’re comfortable with it, the naked baby slightly covered by a blanket. They’re so pure and sweet, I feel like sometimes too much costuming can take away from the natural beauty of a new baby. While diaper shots may seem a little “eh” I actually really love those as well – just try to have a really simple diaper on hand, and cloth diapers are even better (as long as you have a few!). I have a few clients who have made some truly adorable little monogrammed onesies and matching outfits, and absolutely love those as well – just keep it simple, and also be mindful of the coloring of your house if you’re planning on doing a colored or pattered outfit! I would advise against trying to plan for multiple outfits – maybe just a simple swaddle and then a cute onesie, but having too many outfit changes for a newborn tends to make them cold and fussy and then we get a lot less photos!


Newborn sessions will primarily take place in your home… so even though you’re going through the craziness of just having brought a new little baby home, try to carve out a few spaces that are free of clutter and minimal. I always recommend trying to find a spot near a big window, since natural light is a crucial element of soft, beautiful newborn photos. Typically, we’ll try to get the solo photos of your little one on the master bed, so if possible, have clean white sheets on the bed, and some pillows to lean on for family photos as well!

I personally am a sucker for natural light, so opening all the blinds and curtains in your home prior to the shoot will help make your photos bright + beautiful, and go ahead and turn off the overhead lights/any lamps as well.  If you have questions about where to shoot, or don’t have a super well-lit nursery or master bedroom, I always suggest texting home photos to your photographer. They’re trained to look for the best light, and will easily be able to tell you where the ideal session spots are going to be! About thirty minutes before the session starts, crank up the heat to 70+ – babies have been bundled up and cozy for nine months, so yanking all their clothes off in an air conditioned house tends to make them not so happy. You’ll get bonus points for making a few trips to the dryer to have warm snuggly blankets to pose them with.

pro tip : loosen their diapers and clothing at least thirty minutes before the session begins to give those little imprint marks enough time to disappear if you’re hoping for sweet little naked baby photos. 

The best solo images of your little one will be when your baby is in a deep sleep. I know keeping them awake and alert when you’re already exhausted seems like a feat, but its so worth it – try to keep them from sleeping as much as possible before your session, and definitely keep them awake for the entire hour before your session, so that as soon as the session starts, they’re nice and ready to pass out! Getting them milk drunk will also encourage sleepiness, so hold out on feeding as much as you can the morning of the session, and then 15 minutes before your photographer is about to arrive, give your little one as much milk as they’d like. I like to try to get the solo sleepy photos knocked out at the very beginning of the session, so as your little one starts to wake up slowly throughout the session, we know we have those images already finished up.

While this is a lifestyle session and the main goal is to capture the authentic moments you have with your new little baby, I always love to get a few posed shots of newborns being naturally adorable as well. Grab blankets with texture and neutral colors for this portion of the shoot, as well as a plain white sheet. If you have any props that you’d love to style with (old suitcases, favorite toys, and letter boards tend to be favorites!), have those ready in advance. I like to have an abundance of pillows for this section of the shoot, so that your baby is super comfortable (we’ll often shoot these on the nursery or master bedroom floor, close to a window).

A few more of my favorite shots to grab at a newborn shoot – a sweet family photo in the nursery, or if the nursery isn’t totally finished yet, cuddled up in the master bed – so to prep for these shots make the bed (even if its just this once) and try to keep the nursery as tidy as possible! Light-colored bed covers with little to no pattern work best as they keep the photos looking airy and bright.

Remember, we’re photographing a little human so accidents happen. This is completely natural and nothing to panic or get embarrassed about. Having things like wipes and towels at the ready is super helpful. The most important thing is to RELAX and have fun!

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Lindley Battle is a fine art film wedding photographer, serving the East Coast and beyond with modern and timeless wedding photos to capture the moments that matter most.


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