I’m so excited to finally share our photos from Lyla’s newborn shoot, that went infinitely better than our first attempt at newborn photos with my older daughter Anabelle! I did almost everything textbook wrong with Ani’s newborns, which is so funny because in my mind I had this picture painted of blissfully beautiful newborn photos with my first baby (doesn’t everyone?) and they turned out pretty much exactly NOT like I planned, thanks to my first-time-mom naivety. So I figured I’d share with you all some tips on getting the best (and avoiding the worst) newborn photos!
FIVE DAYS AFTER BIRTH: I think this is the magic number, when you’ve been (hopefully) home from the hospital for at least a day if you had a c-section, or a few days if you had a vaginal birth. Your baby is still in that super sleepy state and is more likely to sleep like a rock through the shoot. Also, your milk has probably come in, which leads me to my next tip . . .
FEED YOUR BABY: right before the shoot starts, feed your baby! And if he/she starts fussing during the shoot, feed them then too. Normally I try super hard to not nurse my babies to sleep but in this case, totally nurse your baby to sleep (or give them a bottle). When we took Anabelle’s newborn photos she was hungry, and I just tried to push through it because I didn’t want to inconvenience our photographer. Make sure you ask your photographer ahead of time if he/she is okay with you taking a small break in the middle of the shoot to feed if you need to.
MAKE YOUR HOUSE WARM: if you shoot in a studio they’ll most likely know this and be prepared, but if you’re shooting in your house and your postpartum hormones are off the charts and you’re sweating like I was, DON’T crank your air conditioning! Sweat it out as best you can and keep your house nice and warm. That baby is not going to like being naked for pictures if he/she is cold and newborns get cold super easily! If your house is toasty warm though, baby won’t care at all. When we shot Anabelle’s photos we did them in our house that was nice and cool because I was hot (ha) and used a studio that my photographer had access to, but it wasn’t set up for newborn photos so it was cold and drafty. The one picture I had envisioned for Anabelle’s photos was of her peacefully sleeping so that we could make a Christmas card that year that said, “sleep in heavenly peace,” or “silent night.” This is how that went:
Ha. I still die laughing when I see this picture.
PLAN ON POOP: Everything is going to be peed, spit up, and pooped on if you’re doing any newborn nakey pics. So just plan on that.
BUY NEW BEDDING: I know this kind of totally goes against my last tip, and this totally isn’t necessary, but it’s so nice to have brand new bedding to come home to from the hospital (a treat for YOU!) and it’s fun to have new beautiful bedding for a shoot that looks perfect. I’ve mentioned this before but we bought this bedding and I’m obsessed with it! Soooooo soft and comfy, literally my favorite bedding we’ve ever owned. I really like white bedding for a newborn shoot but anything that’s a solid color I think is a really nice blank canvas.
GIVE YOURSELF AN EXTRA HOUR TO GET READY: Trust me when I say that there are just way too many things that can (and will) come up when you have a needy newborn, and even more so when you have more kids! Get ready with an hour to spare, so that if someone has a desperate emergency crying screaming tantrum throwing need, you still have time to put some makeup on or curl your hair. You’ll be so sad if you don’t give yourself this time!
CHEAT: Everyone (okay almost everyone) still looks 4-6 months pregnant a few days after they’ve given birth. Cheat with a wrap like the belly bandit (sidenote: I swear by this for moving your hips back into place while the relaxin is still in your system and they’ll go back the way they were, sometimes even smaller, with a little help!) or spanx if you already have them or I actually prefer yummie tummie for post baby over spanx. Normally I just wear one or the other, but I wore both my belly bandit and yummie tummie for Lyla’s newborns. They’ll make you feel more pulled in and I actually feel more comfortable when I’m wearing one or the other for at least the first 4-6 weeks post baby. Also, help yourself out and put a little self tanner on so you don’t look pale and ghostly! In my opinion, everyone looks better with a little bronzing, especially when you’re sleep deprived and feel half dead, ha. This is my favorite body tanner and face tanner and I apply it with this mitt.
DRESS SMART: For Anabelle’s newborns I wore all black because that’s what I’d seen around the internet (thanks pinterest!) and I thought that would be the most flattering. Turns out it made me look even more pasty, half-dead and was not flattering in the least bit. Get a blousey top and wear it with some maternity skinny jeans (these will be most comfortable – don’t even try wearing your pre-pregnancy jeans!) or a dress. I wore this peach dress but I also got this top and this top as back-ups and I’ve worn them tons since having Lyla.
PIN LOTS & PIN EARLY: When I had Anabelle I was delirious by day 10 when we had her newborn shoot. Don’t worry, I was delirious with Lyla at day 5 too, but I had pinned a bunch of newborn shoot ideas beforehand so that I wasn’t trying to frantically research a day or two before her shoot (or the day of, in the case of Anabelle’s shoot) and then beg my husband to dig through our basement for possible newborn props. Not a great plan. Figure out what look you’re going for before baby comes, get on etsy and buy a few props (I listed the ones we used below) and rest easy the day of the shoot because you’re prepared.
COORDINATE OUTFITS: I already basically mentioned this, but get your own clothes and everyone else’s bought and ready before baby comes, so they’re laid out, planned, and ready to go. Keep everything fresh and brand new in the back of your closet (or whatever it takes) so that they don’t get worn and stained by Dad and other kids while you’re in the hospital.
SNAP IN SHIFTS: We started Lyla’s pictures during Anabelle’s nap, so that she’d be well rested when it was her turn. We took pictures of just Lyla first, then pictures with just baby and me, then Daddy and baby, and lastly we brought Anabelle in to do pictures with just her and baby and all 4 of us. It’s way easier on little people when they only have to cooperate for a few minutes than stand around waiting for their turn! They have way fewer opportunities to get into trouble and frustrate Mom & Dad too.
BRIBERY: I’m not above it, and neither is my husband. We totally bribed Anabelle with marshmallows to cooperate, and it totally worked. Also, marshmallows are great for bribing young kids during photo shoots because they’re not messy! You’re welcome haha.