I often get asked what age is the best for newborn sessions. To be honest, it depends. The traditional wisdom is to photograph newborns between 6 and 11 days - and definitely before 21 days. But, for individual and cultural reasons, it may not be possible to come into the studio at such an early stage. Some families may not be ready to have their newborn session until bubs is already 6 weeks old.
Pretty early on in my newborn photography career, I decided I wanted to offer newborn sessions to older newborns as well as the traditional cohort. But extending newborn sessions to these slightly older babies requires working differently. Older newborns are less sleepy and less flexible. That said, they can also be less hungry, having worked out the logistics of drinking milk (either breast or bottle).
I try to explain these differences when we start discussing your newborn session. But as a photographer, I love visual cues! So here is an explainer on newborn sessions at Debrin Foxcroft Photography and how they look at different ages.
The sweet (sleepy) spot - 6 - 21 days
Newborn photographers traditionally view this as the sweet spot for newborns. Babies are (normally) sleepy and much more willing to feed and sleep. They don’t really care about what is happening around them as long as they’re not gassy. With warmth, white noise and a little bit of swaying, bubs can be out for the count. It is at this age that you can get the curly positions on the beanbag, heads on hands etc.
Not going to lie, babies are easier to photograph at this age. Also, most babies this age fit the newborn outfits and props.
During a session with these babies, I use the bean bag as well as wraps and props.
The teens (3 to 5 weeks)
Babies between 3 and 5 weeks can still be very curly. But they are starting to be more alert. With this age group, it is particularly important to feed them just before you come so that they can be burped and have some time to be alert in the car before you get here.
I let the baby lead me and, if they are quiet and calm, we can try the beanbag. But I also plan out props and wraps, in case bubs decides they do not want to be in curly unwrapped positions.
Probably 50% of my newborn sessions are with babies between the age of 5 weeks and 8 weeks old. These babies are alert and are increasing their interaction with the world. Sessions with babies this age tend to be a little longer - around the 3 hour mark. We are also more likely to get images with awake babies.
I wrap older babies for their entire session - changing the type of wrap and colours as we go. Wrapping babies gives them a sense of security and they tend to be more calm during the session.
But, more than at any other stage, I let the baby lead me.