5 Tips for Photographing Older Newborns

April 8, 2011

in Photography Tips, Photography Tutorials

Post image for 5 Tips for Photographing Older Newborns

Written By: Kara Wahlgren

Fourteen days…if you photograph newborns, you know that’s the magic number. You’ve probably memorized the mantra: “Newborns are best captured within the first 14 days of life. Please call as soon as your baby arrives.”

Still, you may occasionally find yourself photographing a baby after the ideal two-week time frame. Life happens, babies are unpredictable, and those first few weeks disappear in a flurry of doctor visits, family flocking in from out of town, sleepless nights, and the crazy adjustment to life with a newborn. It’s not surprising that photography sometimes gets lost in the shuffle.

Some photographers refuse to shoot newborn sessions past the two-week mark, but I think four weeks (or five, or eight) is still pretty darn new. But I have developed a few strategies for photographing these not-so-sleepy, not-so-squishy “oldborns.” (The babies pictured in this post were all older than six weeks.)

Tip #1: Don’t force the frog pose.

Most of us melt when we see a newborn curled up in sweet slumber, but the chances of catching those coveted sleepy poses fade as babies grow older. But wide-eyed expressions can be just as adorable! And they’re finally getting the hang of tummy time, so you can prop them on their bellies and capture them having fun.

Tips for Photographing Older Newborns

Tip #2: Cover ’em up.

Naked poses can be tough with oldborns, because once babies discover the joys of stretching, they’re basically just nine pounds of indecent exposure. To keep your photos G-rated, you’ll probably want to use a diaper cover, blanket, or cropping. Bonus: The blankie may lull them to sleep for a few precious seconds.

Tips for Photographing Older Newborns

Tips for Photographing Older Newborns

Tip #3: Rethink your props.

After a few weeks, babies get wise to where they like to sleep—and it’s probably not on a postage scale or makeshift bird’s nest. (Don’t get me wrong, I love those photos too! But oldborns rarely share my enthusiasm.) One prop that still works pretty well at this age is a container—buckets, baskets, and bowls can be padded with blankets to keep baby curled up and cozy.

Tips for Photographing Older Newborns

Tip #4:   Bring mom in.

By now, babies see their mom as more than a 24-hour snack bar. You can get some beautiful connection shots, whether they’re asleep or awake.

Tips for Photographing Older Newborns

Tips for Photographing Older Newborns

Tip #5: When all else fails, wrap it up.

No, not the session—the baby! A swaddling blanket will soothe tears and keep flailing arms and kicking legs under control. I love images of swaddled babies because they remind me of those last peaceful moments before they (finally) fall asleep for the night.

Tips for Photographing Older Newborns

Tips for Photographing Older Newborns

This can be a tricky age to photograph, but if you find yourself photographing an older newborn, just relax, rethink your expectations, and focus on capturing their budding personalities!

Kara Wahlgren - I Heart FacesKara Wahlgren, owner of Kiwi Photography, is a South Jersey portrait photographer, freelance writer, and mom to two crazy boys. View more of her work on her blogsite or like her on Facebook.

What are some tips that have worked for you?

Don’t Miss Our Ultimate Newborn Photography Guide. An amazing FREE resource for all photographers!

Newborn Photography Tutorials | Baby Photography Guide

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Newbie Bub Photographer... April 30, 2012

So glad I found this… was very distressed by my last ‘newborn’ shoot (3rd).. bub would not settle and was at little older.. ended up taking lots with mum holding bub.
Thanks for the tips.


Britneye Ladner February 6, 2012

Awesome! Thanks so much. I’ve been struggling with trying to capture my “oldborns”. Love the term too.


sandy October 4, 2011

I was wondering if anyone has any tips on how to photograph the baby’s feet resting on the parents hands? I have heard that I should wrap the parents arms and the baby’s legs in a black sheet just leaving the parents hands and the babies feet exposed but I haven’t been able to find a tutorial on it. Any suggestions? Is the black sheet just smoothed out in photoshop later so all we see are the hands and feet? Thanks so much!


Rachelle July 12, 2011

Beautifully illustrated ideas… I’m excited to shoot my 2nd professional newborn shoot, but I’ve got quite a few oldborns I’d love to capture. Thank you for the tips. Now, if only I knew how to swaddle.


Ashleigh July 11, 2011

Awesome! I will give these tips a try on my next session!! 🙂


Theresa May 26, 2011

Baby photography tips! http://bit.ly/j3rUNh #photography #tips #mums


Veronica May 11, 2011

Lovely images. My favorite is the second one from the top. Beautiful.

Nice advice. I also wanted to add that if Mom is willing you can get some beautiful nursing shots too. I got some beautiful images at my newborn shoot last week. The baby was 15 days old. We started with her awake, then did some nursing shots. At one point we were also able to get some sleeping baby shots. It was a fantastic and fun session, you just have to be flexible.


Aw Gatsby May 1, 2011

Great post! Very informative. Check out also this added tips on baby christening photography. – http://weddingphotography.com.ph/4957/top-10-tips-baby-christening-photography/


Rebecca April 28, 2011

Thank you for this. I had done a 23 day old and had some problems. This will help for the next time!


angie April 14, 2011

Excellent advice, I wish I’d had this article when my girls were tiny. It would have helped me out a lot.


Tanya April 11, 2011

great tips! thank you!
I am looking forward to photographing my sister’s baby when he arrives this summer, so this is definitely useful!


Shanon Tessier April 10, 2011

Thanks for the tips! I have not done any newborn (or old born) sessions yet, but these tips will help! Thanks so much.


Kara April 10, 2011

Thanks so much for all the nice comments! 🙂


angie {the arthur clan} April 9, 2011

Such great tips! Thank you so much for sharing. 🙂

co-founder of I Heart Faces


Tricia Boutelle April 9, 2011

First of all, the photos in this post are magnificent! Of course, the tips were fantastic as well, but I just want to go back up and dream about those itty bitty’s right now.

Thank you for sharing.


Cynthia April 9, 2011

Great suggestions! I’ve had one week olds with flailing arms and legs that just would NOT go to sleep too! They certainly all have their own little personalities already. 🙂 Swaddling is a favorite tool of mine too. Thanks for this!


Kristin April 9, 2011

Thank you for sharing this! I missed those “new”born days due to having to stay in the RNICU/CCU for the first 3 and 1/2 weeks of my youngest’s life but now at 9 weeks old and the weather turning oh so warm, I need to definately try some of your suggestions. Though, I still have managed to get some breath taking shots of him even though he wasn’t the “ideal” age.


Michelle April 8, 2011

I could have used this 3 days ago LOL! I did some photos for my sister in law’s bub (my nephew) and he was 4 weeks old by the time week could fit it in! I’ve never done any baby photos before except of my own kids so I was very nervous!
We did manage to get some gorgeous shots of him asleep in a basket surrounded by green apples….but we had to give him his bottle in there first to stop the crying haha! Then he looked so peacefully asleep we felt really bad when we had to get him out to go home!


Susan April 8, 2011

No wonder I never got any of those cute shots of my babies…I just learning about photography and had never heard the 14 day rule. Oh well, I could always have another! What great tips and precious pics…thanks for sharing them!


Snekcip April 8, 2011

Great advice! Definitely will go in my notes!! THANK YOU!!


Gail @ Sophisticated Steps April 8, 2011

1) gorgeous pics
2) great advice
3) where were you 2 weeks ago? 😉

This is awesome. Thank you!

Sophisticated Steps


srithasan April 8, 2011

Very Good.They are lovely Babies.


jen April 8, 2011

Great tips – thank you!


Melissa Johnson April 8, 2011

I typically bring a space heater to ensure we can get cute naked poses without freezing the baby. However the last session I did was a 6 wk old and the mom brought out a hair blow dryer. They used it when his diaper rash was just awful and she noted how much he liked it so she suggested it. It worked better than the space heater because he enjoyed the actual air movement. I’ll be bringing one along to each shoot now – just in case.


Mary Beth Cooper April 8, 2011

Excellent article…. those first two weeks for parents are very hard and sometimes impossible to get into the studio or have portraits taken!! Some very good tips!!


Stephanie April 8, 2011

Wonderful tips and many I will be adding to my memory STAT! I hope your tips help deter photographers from completely axing “oldborn” sessions and instead encourage them to get creative and work with what they have! ADORE the shots above as well!


Amy Locurto April 8, 2011

I love these babies! So stinking cute:-) http://su.pr/1AkpcD via @iheartfaces


amy April 8, 2011

Awww! These babies are so cute! Thanks for the great tips:-)


Shannon April 8, 2011

Great tips! Thank you for sharing!


Heather April 8, 2011

Excellent! I have a three weeker coming tomorrow for a quick reshoot and these tips are perfect.


Carolyn April 8, 2011

I have a shoot coming up really soon with an almost 4w old and I was starting to get nervous. This will be my first “oldborn” shoot…… LOVE that term! 🙂 Thanks so much for the tips!


Tirzah April 8, 2011

Awesome! Great tips, Kara! Love the word “oldborns”…LOL, going to add that one to my vocabulary 🙂


Kara E. Krantz April 8, 2011

I just did my first newborn session, and it was definitely at SIX weeks, and that baby was having NONE of it! No cute props, no awkward poses. But we made it work. I brought in mom AND dad – and some of the best shots were the awkward ones with the father wondering what to do with this crying baby. It was a lot of fun, but yes I definitely could have used these tips! And now I know to try and get within the 14 days (still learning these little “duh” parts of photography!) 🙂


Jen April 8, 2011

I needed this post yesterday morning! 🙂 I had a 5-weeker in for some play time and it was a bit if a challenge. We figured some things out and got some sweet shots, but man, those flailing legs showed way too many man-parts in a lot of pics. I’m very thankful for my crop tool. 🙂 Great post and thanks for the great advice and lovely pictures.


Andrés Pinto April 8, 2011

Congratulations are very good I will consider these tweaks to my photographs


Lauren Gross April 8, 2011

This was awesome! In my budding photography career I have only done 2 newborn sessions, and both were over 2 weeks old. I needed these tips! Thanks.


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