10 tips for successful Newborn Sessions

sweet newbornsI thought it would be great to do a post on Newborn sessions, and some tips I find help me have the most success!

1. Start with a nice warm space, I have a small studio so the room heats up pretty fast, lots of on location photographers use space heaters. Please, please if you use them be careful and not to put them too close to the baby. The hot blast of heat could potentially burn, so make sure its not blowing directly on the baby.

2. Have ample hand towels or receiving blankets, I use them for all the messes, instead of the wipes, its warmer on babies bottom that way.

3. Warm up your hands, would you want someone touching you with icy fingers? I like to wash my hands before I touch baby so I run them extra long under the warm water to warm them up.

4. Be prepared, I’m a planner and like to go into each session with fresh new ideas, for props and poses that create a unique session for each an every client.

5. Interact with your clients ask them which props and blankets they like, favorite colors etc. What their style is, if they like certain hats, head bands. By having open communication you work on creating a session together that you both will be happy with.

6 Treat the baby with respect. The little one you are working with is a little person and will tell you what they like and what they don’t like. They will tell you which positions they want to be put into and the ones they don’t.  And that’s perfectly OK.  My belief is that in order for anyone to be treated with respect they have to give it and a newborn is no exception. Handle the baby as careful and as lovingly as you would handle your own child.

7. Be Patient. I can’t stress this enough. We all get little ones who are non sleepers at some point, you have 2 options either ride it out or reschedule. I like to hang out with my clients and chat and get to know them while we wait.

8. Give baby breaks. In my sessions we take lots of breaks to top up baby and keep baby asleep, when I feel like I have moved baby a lot, I give baby 2-3 minutes to relax and fall into a deeper sleep.

9. Know when to quit.  Listen to the baby, they will tell you when they have had enough moving around and enough being handled. At some point they all say, “OK Lisa I’m done.”  And I respect their wishes. ( I usually find this around the 3 hour mark)

10. When all else fails bust out the hairdryer ( but don’t aim it at the baby) I discovered this little trick when my son was 6 weeks old, I was hurrying to get ready, he was cranky and wouldn’t fall asleep and I needed to dry my hair. With in 2 minutes he was out like a light! Whenever I have a little one that needs some extra white noise to go to sleep I bust out the hairdryer, and it works every time 🙂

11. Safety first!  I’m not a heat pad user, but many photographers I know do use them, please please ensure you remove the electric heat pad prior to  putting the naked baby on it. Seems like a lethal combination liquid + electricity if you know what I mean.   And baby’s sensitive skin can burn quickly.

Don’t put baby in dangerous situations. I have noticed a big trend on people putting babies in glass vases.   All I can say is scary!!! What if that baby pushes hard against the glass, or jerks like they so often do and knocks over and smashes the vase.  Do you want to be known as the photographer that hurt a child?  But more importantly, do you want to be the photographer that hurt a child?

The photo is NEVER more important than the child …period.

If you don’t know how to do composites – don’t do it. If you haven’t been taught to SAFELY suspend a baby – don’t do it. Above all, always make sure that little one is safe.

Hope these tips help!

If you have a tip you would like to share, please leave a it in the comments field!

Much Love,


P.S.  Do you have a business that caters to photographers?  We’re gearing up for a fun launch party for ‘The Milky Way’ and have some partnership opportunities available!  Email [email protected]


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  1. Samantha Bachand on September 7, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    Would love to be an action tester for you! I use CS5!

  2. Michelle Newell on September 7, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    GREAT post Lisa!

  3. Kylie Foley on September 7, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    Awesome advice, sensible judgement that baby always comes first. Loving this resource.

  4. kathleen bowie on September 8, 2011 at 12:32 am

    Beautifully written!

  5. Tracy Cook on September 8, 2011 at 1:52 am

    Great tips Lisa ! The hairdryer is a great tip- my son was colicky and I used to sit holding him and pointing the dryer at the wall to help ease him. 🙂

    The one thing I always tell parents is not to worry, not to stress, we’ll go at the pace of the baby and if (when) he or she pees/poops- it’s fine- it happens. People tend to be a bit less mortified if I tell them first that I fully expect their baby to poop on me. 🙂

  6. Jodie Lemke on September 8, 2011 at 3:40 am

    awesome resource! i often find a babe likes to be held tight when trying to fall asleep. if i put a firm hand on their upper body and pat their bum gently then slowly remove my hands. ti helps 🙂 gonna have to try that hair-blower trick. 🙂

  7. Virgila Reynolds on September 9, 2011 at 12:41 am

    I never thought of the hair dryer, I use a vacuum or a radio in the background. This works every time too. I will have to try the hair dryer. Love all your tricks and posts…your amazing!!!

  8. Gina Parry on September 9, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Lovely well written article. I totally agree with everything you said, especially from a safety point of view. Photographers that put babies inside glass jars are sick – it’s not clever or innovative it’s dangerous and stupid. What’s wrong with soft blankets?

  9. Josie Fox on September 9, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    I love this Thank you!!

  10. Lisa on September 10, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Thanks for sharing these tips

  11. Irina on September 12, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Thank you Lisa for the great tips. Quick question for you…what type of a bowl do you use for the cheerios and baby pictures? It looks glass which you say (and it’s obvious) is not safe to use. Thanks.

    • lisa on September 12, 2011 at 4:06 pm

      Hi Irena, great question! I do use a very solid glass bowl for my cheerios shots, Mom is literally an inch away from baby and I often do composites of this shot, if I feel baby is unsturdy. The bowl is really really thick glass. I can see why you may have thought I was contradicting myself. What I have been noticing and concerned about is newborns in vases, many people just plop them right in not thinking about how newborns can jerk and often do pushing with legs and feet very fast and swiftly. The baby is entirely in the bowl in these shots. I can see why you would question this, but I really feel these are 2 entirely different situations. Hope this answers your question,

  12. Tina on December 8, 2011 at 4:24 am

    Love the tips!! and safety first! XO

  13. Kelly Richardson on April 30, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    Such a well written article, I cringe when I see scary newborn photos. I do not think many realize they are mostly composed shots. I also think the window sill sleeping babies are scary too. I wonder why people want images like this done when I see them I wan’t to scoop the baby up & save them. Why would you want a image like that on your wall?? Your work is beautiful, I LOVED the shot of the twins one sleeping & smiling and one so pensively staring at you! GREAT SHOT!!

    • lisa on May 1, 2012 at 5:06 am

      Thanks Kelly! Please feel free to share the article with any photographer circles, to help spread the safety message!

  14. Dana on November 19, 2012 at 5:01 am

    Thanks for sharing! Helpful article and I am glad you addressed safety!

  15. Aly on August 16, 2019 at 2:31 pm

    These are great tips! It’s so important to keep those newborns safe while taking pictures of them.

    • The Milky Way on August 16, 2019 at 2:53 pm

      Glad you loved the tips, Aly!

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