Newborn photos: How to get the best (and avoid the worst)

I'm so excited to finally share photos from Millie's newborn photoshoot! I've learned so much about newborn photography with each new baby. 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!

baby swaddled for newborn photos

Tip #1: When to take newborn photos

Okay really ideally, 5-10 days after. I think this is the magic number, when you've been (hopefully) home from the hospital for at least a few days. 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 . . .

newborn photography

Tip #2: 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.

newborn photoshoot

Tip #3: Make your house warm for the newborn photoshoot

If you shoot in a studio, they'll most likely know this tip for newborn photography 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.” Instead we have this picture hahaha:

newborn photos

Tip #4: Plan on poop during newborn photos

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! Extra blankets, burp cloths, outfits, whatever you need. I bought a few wraps for Millie (knowing she'd probably poop/pee in some of them, which she did!) and I was so glad I had extras on hand.

newborn photo outfit
newborn

Tip #5: Plan for the newborn photos

When I had Anabelle I was delirious by day 10 when we had her newborn photoshoot. Don't worry, I was delirious with Lyla and Millie 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 or Amazon and buy a few props (I listed the ones we used below) and rest easy the day of the shoot because you're prepared.

newborn photoshoot
pictures of newborn baby

Tip #6: Pretty bedding

It's so nice to have beautiful bedding for a shoot that also creates a pretty, clean-canvas type of backdrop to lay baby on, not only for newborn photos but also for everyday photos you'll want to take as baby grows. We bought this bedding for Lyla's newborns and I'm still so obsessed with it that we used it again for Millie's newborns too. 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.

newborn photos
newborn photography

Tip #7: 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!

newborn photo outfit

Tip #8: 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 use Spanx if you already have them. Normally I just wear one or the other, but I wore both my belly bandit and Spanx for Millie's newborn photos. 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. You can read about my favorite self tanners for face here and best self tanners for body here.

newborn photoshoot
newborn photos

Tip #9: Dress smart

For Anabelle's newborn photos 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 pretty, flowy (not fitted!) dress. I wore this ivory midi dress.

newborn photo outfit

Tip #10: 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. This time I kept everyone in creams/whites/neutrals and I LOVE how they turned out and love that we kept Millie in a swaddle for her newborn photo outfit. You can also see how my girls and I dressed for some snaps in Millie's nursery reveal here.

newborn photos

Tip #11: Snap in shifts

We took several photos with just Millie, and then Millie and me, and we only brought the older girls in for the few photos we needed them in. 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.

newborn photo props
newborn photoshoot
newborn photo outfit

Tip #12: Bribery

I'm not above it, and neither is Neil. We totally bribe Anabelle and Lyla with marshmallows to cooperate during most photo shoots, and it totally works. Marshmallows are great for bribing young kids during photoshoots because they're not messy! You're welcome, haha.

newborn photography
newborn photoshoot
newborn
newborn

I hope these tips help you get the newborn photos you've always dreamed of and get that smooth sailing newborn photoshoot you hoped for! Those first pictures of your new family are absolutely priceless. Every time I look at my girl's newborn photos I'm transported right back to that magical time when they're fresh from heaven just a few days old.

Our bedding
Millie's headband was gifted, similar
Millie's headwrap
Millie's wrap
Ani's dress
Lyla's dress
Neil's shirt
Neil's Pants
My Midi Dress
Belly Bandit
Spanx
Body Tanner
Face Tanner
Applicator Mitt
Photos: Arielle Levy

Corrine Stokoe

Corrine Stokoe is a blogger, podcaster and content creator behind the brand Mint Arrow. She and her husband Neil live in South Orange County with their 3 little girls (and soon to be baby boy!) and run a blog and business with 8 total team members, where they find the best daily deals and share favorite finds in fashion and beauty. They also run a podcast called Mint Arrow Messages. Mint Arrow has been featured in Forbes, Women's Wear Daily, Business Insider, The Wall Street Journal, AdWeek and Allure. Corrine is passionate about sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ as often as she can and teaching others to use social media for good.

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Comments

  1. you look beautiful! and that dress has been in my shopping cart FOREVER. i should just pull the plug and buy it already. p.s. the link to the self tanner isnt there!

  2. Your pictures turned out wonderful!!
    And the floral wrap- LOVE it!
    You bring up a really great point to make sure that the photographer you go with is on YOUR schedule and gives you the time you need for the job you are essentially paying them for. With my first, I made the same mistake and I was so worried about the photographers schedule, that I ended up with none of the pictures I hoped to have. Lesson learned. Take your time, get the shots you want, and it really is okay to nurse baby to sleep for these pics!
    xoxo

  3. Love, love, love everything about this post! Beautiful photos and I agree with all of your tips. Second time moms got it figured out! 😉

  4. Wow, these photos are breathtakingly beautiful! They make me miss those precious and very special moments around birth! There is something magical about welcoming a new little member in the family! You look beyond stunning by the way! Did you have a makeup artist do your makeup or did you do it all by yourself? I would love to know what products you used – other than the taupe Brow Wiz and the Maskcara IIID foundation 😉

  5. Wonderful and informative post! Thank you for all the tips. Your newborn shoot is lovely, too. I am very interested in how you used the Belly Bandit after delivery to help with your hips and get them smaller again. Do you have any tips or methods that you used to be successful with the Bandit?

    1. hi bree! my only tip is to just use it every day for the first 6 weeks, as much as you can! i really only take it off when i leave the house, and even then, a lot of times i still wear it under a loose top. 🙂

      1. Hello! I realize this post is old now, but I too am curious about your success with the belly bandit. This may sound dumb, but you must wear it pretty low, right? So it’s getting the bottom of your belly and then your hips? Do you sleep in it? Also any loose tops you’ve seen lately for newborn shoots? Thanks!

  6. Hi ! I’m about to have a baby and am trying to plan outfits for our pics. I am wondering what size u order in your dress- I met u at jen and blakes wedding in Utah and we r similar size. U can email me if that helps. Thank you!

  7. As a new mom, I am researching a lot of information about relative topics. Your post is so useful for me. Thanks for sharing it!

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