How to take the cutest first photo of your newborn
We all want gorgeous photos of our new squishy bundles to cherish for years and years to come. But it can often be stressful and time-consuming to organise a photographer (not to mention costly!).
If you haven’t budgeted for a professional photographer, why not try taking them at home or in the hospital with your phone? You may be surprised at the quality of photos that phones take these days.
Apply these easy newborn photography tips and you’ll be taking photos like a pro. Best of all? You only need a phone, good window light and a happy baby ready to work the camera!
Preparation for Success!
Safety, feeding + awake time
- Safety first, never leave your baby unattended during the shoot. Start with simple, beautiful poses that can be easily and safely achieved. For example, have baby on their back or on their side. For baby’s first photo, using the hospital’s bassinet or your hospital bed (safely place them in the middle - not on the edge) and use a Snuggly Jacks blanket/swaddle layer underneath baby as the background.
- Ensure your baby is fully fed, then afterward leave them unwrapped for awake time for around 45 minutes. Let baby kick around to let off some energy. This will help them settle easily into sleep so you can be ready with the camera.
- Ensure baby is burped to avoid an upset tummy. Snuggly Jacks Burp Cloths are great for this!
Natural window light
- Use natural sunlight by using a window that has no direct sunlight coming in (think in the shade or on an overcast day). This type of light is soft and beautiful and will result in beautifully exposed images.
If you don’t have access to a window in your room, please ask your midwife where you can get access to natural window light so you can capture baby's first pro-looking photo. If you hired a professional photographer to come to the hospital, they would need to do the same thing.
TIP: Many hospitals' policy is you cannot walk around carrying your baby, you will need to safely transport your baby in the bassinet provided to an area where there is window light.
- Take photos during the day when the natural light is bright enough. Do not take them at dawn or dusk.
- PRO TIP: Place baby’s face approximately 45 degrees to the window light.
**NOTE**: Have baby’s feet facing away from the light so that the light doesn’t beam directly up baby’s nose, otherwise your baby’s sweet face will be lit-up similar to a torchlight under their chin. It’s very unflattering and unnatural looking.
Swaddle/wrapping + Styling
- Babies feel safe and secure when wrapped (not too tight, but enough to make them feel snug and secure). Wrapping is a MUST especially if the baby is not setting.
If baby does not settle into the wrap after a minute or two, if they can move their arms and hands too much it often frustrates them until they are completely out of the wrap. You must wrap the baby more firmly to reduce movement with a Stretchy Wrap or piece of fabric to allow grip and to anchor the fabric around the baby.
Always ensure there is space away from the baby’s neck so they can easily breathe when wrapping.
- Beautifully style your images with Snuggly Jacks blankets, wraps and announcement disks. They have everything you need for styling babies first photo. Try adding fake or real flowers/greenery to add more interest to your photos like in the image below.
- White noise: Babies are used to being inside the womb which is a very close resemblance to the sound and volume (so that’s loud!) of a vacuum cleaner. Your baby will feel at home.
So turn up the noise and watch your baby settle almost instantly.
- Consider a dummy: If your baby doesn’t use a dummy, I recommend using one if they aren’t settling – if only for the photo session. If all the other settling tools aren’t working, this can often be the last hack that brings all the other techniques together.
- Have the room at 27 degrees. This will ensure the baby is nice and warm to settle into a sleep. A cold baby will not relax and will squirm all over the place.
- You don’t need a fancy camera. Your phone camera will do just fine!
- Window light - using natural daylight
- Hats, headbands, announcement disks and wraps for settling and styling baby
- Settling tools: Dummy/pacifier, white noise - there are white noise apps for your phone
- Heater - keep the room nice and warm - a cold baby will not settle.
Jess’s journey first began over 10 years ago when she tried DIY newborn photos of her firstborn. Not only was the experience stressful for her with a crying baby, but the results were also disappointing. This led Jess to study with world-recognised newborn photographers to master the art of newborn photography and has since become known as the baby whisperer herself. You can find her on Instagram and through Jessica Jane Photography.
Jess helps parents all over the world with quick, easy-to-follow training for parents to take gorgeous photos of their baby at home.
If you’d love to deep dive more, she has an amazing Photography Course that was specifically created for busy, tired parents in mind! Check out her free video tutorial here.