Why are newborn shoots done so soon after birth?
So, one of the main questions I get asked when someone first contacts me about a newborn photoshoot, is why is it done so soon after birth?.
It is true that you will find that most photographers 'recommended' that newborn photoshoots take place before the baby is 14 days old (ideally between 5 - 10 days) for many reasons which I will give you some more information about below, but every single baby is different as is every photographer for example; a premature little one will be completely different to a 2 week overdue baby weighing it at 9lb 2oz (that was my not so little bean!).
So.... Why before 14 days?
Did you know that newborn babies are born with nearly 300 ‘bones’, while a full-grown adult has only 206. That's nearly 300 bones & cartilage pieces, which after that 10 - 14 days (2 weeks) mark, start to fuse together into calcified bone, making it much harder for them be posed in positions such as 'in-the-womb'. So this is why it is much more comfortable for them to be moulded into those cute positions while they still have the benefit of flexibility. So if these are the sorts of photos you are interested in I would personally recommend scheduling the session after 5-10 days, especially for breastfeeding mums, so baby can be well fed and therefore sleep soundly.
But please don't think that these sessions are easy and the baby sleeps through them! No, newborn shoots are hard work in a very warm room with heaters and white noise, quite often babies wee or poo on me and thats all fine! But for that reason I only schedule one newborn session per day and we just go with the flow to allow parents and baby to be as relaxed as possible. So if the baby is younger than 14 days old it does make my “job” a little easier, but it’s not essential as I try and do my best for every single client no matter how old the baby and no matter how hot we all get!
I do have one more suggestion; that mums should be included in at least one image no matter what the circumstance of how she thinks she sees herself. As your child grows they will be interested in what their mum looked like when they were born and I know from experience that you will regret missing out on photographs of you bonding with your little one.
Between 5-10 Days a baby is more likely to be:
* More Sleepy : During this period, babies tend to sleep the majority of the time (although it may not seem like it to mum and dad) and this generally makes it very easy to get them into poses without causing them too much discomfort.
* Easier to pose: because the newborn hasn’t been out of the womb for a long period, they are typically more “bendy” for lack of a better word. Essentially, from being scrunched up in the womb, they are more flexible making it easier to move from pose to pose without causing any discomfort.
* Have established feeding (Occasionally!) Not always the case, but it is more common that if breast feeding, mother and baby hav established 'some sort' of routine and baby will be more likely to have a good feed, and help to keep him/her to sleep more soundly.
* Baby's umbilical cord: After 5-7 days there is a good chance that the newborn’s umbilical cord will have fallen off, so you won’t have to compromise poses to try to hide the cord. However, in general, it can take anywhere between 1-3 weeks for the stump to fall off, but if it hasn’t then this is usually removed in editing if required.
* Newborn's skin: The baby should be doing quite well and hopefully, mostly clear of any early Jaundice. Also, within that first 2 weeks, the baby should also be mostly clear of any baby acne which normally starts around 2 weeks after birth and can last a few months. Of course these issues can be rectified in post editing, but it can be time consuming.
* Mum has had some time to recover and parents have time to bond with their new baby. Can you imagine giving birth and then having to go home to a photo shoot? Shooting at least 5 days after childbirth gives mum some time to recover.
* Paternity Leave: Dad's usually take 2 weeks of paternity leave when the baby arrives. This is another positive to the newborn session taking place during dad's time at home.
NOTE: These, of course, are just “general tips and rules of thumb” based on experience. Please bear in mind that every newborn is unique and there is no "standard session".