newborn photoshoot with swaddle

It’s hard to believe Naiya is now 3.5 months old!  At today’s pediatrician appointment, she clocked in at 13.6 pounds and 24 1/4 inches long (she has officially almost doubled in weight since she was born!). We’ve had so much fun watching her grow by the minute and we’re so thankful to be able to capture so many memories of her on camera. I’m already looking back at her newborn photos in awe that she was so tiny a few weeks ago! Over the past couple of months, I’ve received a bunch of messages asking for tips on how to nail the perfect newborn photos so today, I’m excited to share my favorite newborn photoshoot hacks with you.

newborn photoshoot baby bow

1) Pin-Point The Style You’re Going For:  

Before Naiya was born, I spent countless hours going down instagram rabbit holes of birth and newborn photography.  At nine months pregnant, this was the perfect way to distract myself from how exhausted I was and it helped me to get even more excited about getting my baby out!  If you’re hoping to do a newborn photoshoot, I suggest exploring newborn photography hashtags on instagram to help you determine what kind of photos you are hoping for.

Overall, there are two different types of newborn photos.  First off, there are lifestyle photos in which a photographer takes natural, more candid photos of your baby and family. Secondly, there are posed newborn photos in which photographers carefully pose your sleeping baby into different doll-like positions (think Ann Geddes).

Going into our newborn shoot, I personally gravitated towards lifestyle photography but in the end, we ended up doing a mixture of both (and I’m so happy we did).

newborn photography los angelesnewborn photos los angeles newborn and puppy photography los angeles

2) Secure A Newborn Photographer Early: 

After your baby is born, the last thing you’ll want to do is even think about finding a photographer. If you know you want to do newborn photos, reach out to a few photographers you like ahead of time and narrow down your list within the month leading up to your due date.  Once you hire them, most photographers will leave a window open in their schedules for your shoot because they know that you will most likely not give birth on your actual due date. We ended up hiring our Los Angeles-based wedding photographer who has now shot our whole love story (in addition to our wedding, she’s shot our engagement, first anniversary, maternity and birth).  If you loved your wedding photographer as we did, they’re definitely worth reaching out to to see if they are also experienced with newborn photography!

mom and newborn photography los angeles

3) Schedule a Shoot Soon After Your Baby’s Birthday: 

It’s easiest for photographers to nail newborn sleeping poses with your baby 1-2 weeks after your baby is born.  Babies are more apt to stay sound asleep during this time and as they get older, it gets harder to nail shots of them snoozing away.

New mamas, you will be more exhausted than you’ve ever been in your entire life during this time period but if you can muster up the energy, nail down a time for this shoot ahead of time and go for it!  Most photographers will ask your due date and will be able to hold a window of time for you in case you are early or late.

If you miss the 1-2 week window after birth for shooting, you can always nail a shoot later on too–it will just look a bit different.

4) Have Cute Swaddles And Accessories Ready To Go:

I wish I had done this before delivering Naiya! I was so nervous for her birth, I actually didn’t buy anything for her ahead of time.  It wasn’t until she was a few weeks old that I finally started shopping for her (and of course now I can’t stop!).  Looking back, I wish I had started earlier and that I’d nailed down some fun swaddles like the one I posted here ahead of time because I actually think they would have made me feel more excited about labor.

There are so many amazing small businesses that design the most adorable newborn accessories (I recently posted shoppable links to some of my favorites here ).  Newborn girls look so cute in bows like this one here or here and I’m loving matching swaddle and hat sets for newborn photos like the one here and here.

If you’re like me and you don’t nail any accessories down ahead of time, you can always order from Amazon Prime for next day (or even same day) delivery! I bought this cozy pink swaddle the day after we got home from the hospital it and photographed beautifully. Swaddles often help to make babies feel safe and comfy so they often also help photographers to nail the perfect shot of your little one. I also bought this faux fur throw that was comfy enough for Naiya to lay on so we could shoot aerial shots of her which was delivered within one day.

4) Dress Comfortably!

New mamas, a few days after birth, you’re most likely going to want to wear something that’s loose and easy to throw on like this dress here, here or here.  The last thing you’ll want to do is get dressed up when you’re functioning on little to no sleep.

The dress I wore for our shoot was a loose-fitting one from Zara that I wore during my pregnancy.  I ended up throwing it on because it was so easy to wear.  It was also nice and comfy and I loved that it didn’t feel too tight on my c-section incision.

New dads, you’ll probably want to dress comfortably too. Phil ended up throwing on a simple black tee and shorts. The last thing on both of our minds was fashion but we also knew that these photos were going to be keepsakes we’d have forever.  Likewise, we wanted to feel as good as possible looking back at them.

5) Feed Your Baby Right Before Your Shoot:

Full newborns are usually much happier (and sleepier) than hungry babies. I’ve learned with Naiya that “milk drunk” is a real thing and it’s the best.  It’s important that you keep your baby as happy as possible throughout the shoot so that you are able to nail the best photos you can.

Likewise, it’s also important to hire a photographer who has good energy and a ton of patience with newborns. Newborns are on their own schedules so shooting with them tends to take longer than you might expect. Our photographer was kind enough to shoot for a few hours on our original shoot day and she ended up coming back the next day to see if Naiya would be sleepier.  We definitely had trouble getting her to relax and fall asleep on our shoot day and we so appreciated her taking the time to nail the perfect shots.

PHOTOGRAPHY: Katrina Jayne and Jennifer Tanksley-Cross