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

I'm so excited to finally share photos from Harry'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 after doing it 4 times now!

I'm including some of Millie's too because I still love them so much and it's fun to see boy and girl newborn photos. And because there can never be too many pictures of brand new babies, right?!

baby boy newborn photos
Hello world.
baby boy newborn photoshoot

Tip #1: When to take newborn photos

Okay really ideally, 5-10 days after birth is the best time. 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…

baby boy newborns
If you're wondering whether growing up in the 90s and having every word of Newsies memorized influenced this shoot, you would be right.
newborn photoshoot tips
It's a fine life – carrying the banner through it allllllllll.

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.

baby photos
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 mine usually are, 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.

baby boy
baby boy outfits

When we shot Anabelle's photos we did them in our house that was nice and cool because I was hot (ha). We also 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 below hahaha.

newborn photos

Tip #4: Plan for the worst

Babies are walking bodily function disasters. They just are. Babies love to pee and poop and spit up on everything. So just plan on that! Extra blankets, burp cloths, outfits, whatever you need – ESPECIALLY if you want to do any nakey pics or just in a wrap without a diaper. I did a few of these with Millie and none with Harry since he seems to be even more prone to pee on everything ha. But still, I had multiple outfits just in case anything happened to any of them. You'll always be glad to have more than not enough options.

baby nursery
Insert the Lion King singing “Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba Sithi uhm ingonyama” here.
baby photoshoot
newborn photo outfit

Tip #5: Research 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, Millie, and Harry 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 for Millie and Harry) and rest easy the day of the shoot because you're prepared.

baby boy
newborn photos
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. SO soft and comfy, literally my favorite bedding we've ever owned. We bought this brand new bedding for Harry's shoot and as a side note, it's a really nice treat when you're spending so much time in bed suddenly with recovery!

I really like white bedding for a newborn shoot, but anything that's a solid color I think is a really nice blank canvas.

2022 update: Harry's bedding is currently sold-out but we're loving this super cozy, similar option!

white anthropologie bedding
baby in swaddle
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!

mom and baby
baby and mom
newborn photo outfit for mom

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. Side-note: 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 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 and Harry'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.

photoshoot at home

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.

parents and baby

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 for Millie's, and this dress with this slip for Harry's.

2022 update: This dress is so pretty and similar to the now sold-out dress I wore for Millie's photos (plus its's perfect if you're a nursing mama!).

family photoshoot at home
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.

For Millie's newborn shoot, I kept everyone in creams/whites/neutrals and I loved 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

For Harry's newborn photos, we added a little bit more color. My girls wore this dress in 3 coordinating prints, and I wore this dress as I mentioned, and then Neil and Harry wore more neutral colors. I'll be honest, I didn't follow my own advice and kind of just slapped these outfits together at the last second. Not a huge deal! But you can definitely see that in Millie's photos our outfits coordinated a lot better and I wish I would've maybe worn a different color dress.

In the pics below you can see that my girls and Harry all coordinate much better. Maybe they're just cuter too haha.

2022 update: check out these in stock dresses here, here, and here for perfectly coordinating prints!

at home family photos
sibling photos
family pictures

Tip #11: Snap in shifts

We took several photos with just the baby, and then baby 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
big sister
baby yawn

Tip #12: Bribery

I'm not above it, and neither is Neil. We totally bribe the girls 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.

family photo tips with kids and newborn
family photos at home
Pretty sure if Millie could caption this it would say, “I'm still the baby right?!”
newborn photography

Good luck, Mama!

I hope these tips help you get some newborn photos that I KNOW you'll cherish forever. Not everything will go perfectly, most likely. But you'll be SO GLAD you took these because that magical time where your baby is teeny tiny and sleeps through everything goes by so very fast. Every time I look at my babies' newborn photos I'm transported right back to that magical time when they're fresh from heaven just a few days old.

baby boy
Millie's newborn shoot:
Ruffled bedding
Millie's headband was gifted, similar
Millie's head wrap
Millie's wrap sold out, similar
Ani's dress sold out, similar
Lyla's dress
Neil's shirt sold out, similar
Neil's Pants
My Midi Dress sold out, similar
Belly Bandit

Harry's newborn shoot:
Ruched Quilt sold out, similar
Harry's Plaid Suspender Pants and Peaked Cap Set
Natural Footie pajamas
Green Knotted Gown
Taupe stripe swaddle & hat
Faux Fur Knitted bonnet
Neil's shirt sold out, similar
Neils jeans sold out, similar
Mint Maxi Dress
Nude Slip
Millie's dress sold out, similar
Ani's dress sold out, similar
Lyla's dress sold out, similar
Mother Embrace Wall Art
Lula Wall Art
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 baby boy, she runs her blog and business with 7 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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Hi, I’m Corrine and it’s pretty simple. I think you deserve to buy the things you want at a price you can afford. Here you can find the best deals and steals on high end fashion, as well as beauty and wellness tutorials.


  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. Love all the tips! My newborns were a disaster! Ugh next baby will be better I hope! You look gorgeous!

  3. 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!

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

  5. 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 😉

  6. 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!

  7. 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!

  8. 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!

  9. Baby photography is really awesome. Actually capturing new born baby photos a tough job. In your post you have showed all the pose of new born baby photoshoting step by step. All the beginners and experts photographer can learn a lot of things from your post. I also learn a lot of things from this post.
    Thanks for a nice post.

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