Newborn vs. 6 week old Baby
Why do we photograph Newborn babies so early? | My view, as a Mama & Newborn Photographer
I’m a Newborn Photographer, and I love Photographing babies of all ages… there’s something so beautiful about a new life, and it’s such an honour to meet and cuddle your baby in the first few weeks of their life.
For new parents considering Newborn photography, I’d like to explain why we usually want to photograph babies at 7-14 days. You may have heard that some Photographers are very adamant about photographing Newborn babies under 2 weeks old, and there’s definitely a reason for that, **IF** you have your heart set on curled-up “Newborn” photographs. But first, let me explain, what’s the big deal?
(Firstly, a disclaimer… this is my opinion and advice as a Newborn Photographer and Mama of 3 kids. When you have your baby photographed is up to you. If your baby/babies are born healthy and at full term, or at least from 37 weeks onwards, then this is my advice on when is a good time to have your baby photographed. If you have a preemie, or multiples, or a baby with any medical issues/special care, or extra time in hospital, that obviously comes first. Your baby’s safety is priority, and if that means your first trip out of the hospital/house is 3 months later, then that is absolutely ok).
*These babies pictured below have all been photographed between 7-14 days*
From a Newborn Photographer’s perspective… all we want to do is photograph your baby and capture your beautiful moments in a safe environment, when you and baby are ready, however old baby may be. There are many Photographers out there that flat-out will not photograph a newborn baby over 14 days old, and I dislike that rule… but it does apply, at times… so I’ll explain the benefits of both having your session at the Newborn age (7-14 days), or later.
When my clients book me as their Newborn Photographer, it’s usually because they’ve seen our photographs, and they love our style. When I talk to them about what poses they’d love, what they’ve seen on our website, or what they want from their session, many clients tell me they love the curled-up poses, “bottom-up”, and baby wrapped up nice and snug.. and these poses are best done with a newborn. As long as baby is healthy and home, then we always aim to book in baby’s session at 7-14 days – which is usually the week after you’re home from hospital. Check our gallery, the majority of babies here are photographed at 7-14 days new.
If you’ve ever had a Newborn baby, you’ll probably remember your first week with a newborn, in snippets… In a nutshell, it’s emotion-filled and blurry at best. From labour and delivery, to your newborn baby arriving, hospital stay, recovery, the big first drive home with your tiny baby in their huge car seat… to getting settled at home, the first night with your baby, friends and family visiting, sleep deprivation, and constant feeding/crying/cuddling…. before you know it, your first week with a baby has all but disappeared, and you’re all emotional over how fast time is flying.
That first week is for you, so please don’t book a Newborn photographer who wants to handle and photograph your baby in that special time. It’s not needed, unless they’re visiting you in hospital for a “Fresh 48” session, where you’re documenting your baby in your arms, in your hospital room.
I will never photograph a Newborn baby under 5 days old – firstly, health and safety. Aside from quick “friends/family” cuddles, I firmly believe that a fresh newborn should only be cuddled by you – Mum and Dad. Savour these first few days alone, and preserve the sanctity of this precious new arrival in your home.
I’ll also mention the importance of not allowing anyone who hasn’t been vaccinated against Whooping Cough, around your baby. Please, ask your Newborn Photographer if they are vaccinated. Photographers, friends, Grandparents….. all should be vaccinated. And if you’re not pro-vacc, that’s entirely your choice, but my choice is to be safe and healthy when I handle your baby. I’m immunised, for your baby’s safety.
Next is Feeding….. and yes, this is a big deal when it comes to your Newborn session. Feeding plays a huge part during a session. A settled baby generally has a full tummy, and a settled baby helps when we’re trying to photograph your family.
A newborn baby on day 1 may only require a few mLs of colostrum, but wait for day 3-5…. your baby has been cluster feeding or suckling for a few days to stimulate your milk, and suddenly your body has listened. If you’ve heard of the “baby blues”, here she comes on day 3-5, and she arrives when your milk comes in – hormones, emotions, crying for no reason, and all that stuff – and that’s just Mama! Your baby suckling for days has now triggered your milk to “come in”, your breasts to double in size and leak everywhere, and baby knows it! Now, baby is “hangry”. Cue those all-night-feeds in hospital where you beg the nurse to take them away for an hour so you can sleep, please!!. Even if you are bottle feeding, your baby will get to a point where a few mLs of syringe-fed formula isn’t enough, baby is getting stronger and their tummy is growing, and will start demanding you fill it with milk.
Now granted, not every Mama will go through this, and I hope you don’t – I personally only went through it once, for my first baby. But day 5 for me was an emotional, hit-the-wall, blah day. We had visitors over, and I stayed in bed while they cuddled my baby, because….. #babyblues. Not a good time for photos.
Have you read the stats about Newborns and their tummies? According to research, on day 1, a Newborn’s tummy is about the size of a marble… hence why they’re satisfied with a few mLs of colostrum. But, only day 10, baby’s tummy is the size of a large chicken egg – The difference is amazing!! So if you’re still feeding baby a few mLs on day 10, you’ve probably got a hangry, exhausted baby on your hands. They grow. Fast. Do you want to have a Newborn session during this crazy time when you’re both learning how to feed? Nope. No thanks.
If you’ve had a full term healthy baby, you’re probably home from hospital in 1-5 days, settling in. Caesarian babies may be in hospital for 5 nights, and you as a Mama may be on pain medication for a week.. so that gives you time to get home and recover, before you gather yourself up and venture out to a stranger’s home, post-surgery. Even Mama’s who have given birth at a birth centre and go home the same day, need time to settle in at home.
Another reason for capturing baby early, is their skin…. After birth, baby’s skin can dry out. Baby has left the liquid, “moisturised” environment of the womb, and is exposed to our world’s environment. Many Newborns at 7-14 days old have peeling skin, which is totally fine! Don’t stress about that. Along with peeling skin comes milk spots on baby’s nose/face, pimples, sometimes acne a bit later (yes, babies can have terrible pimples/acne/redness). While all of these can occur in a newborn, it’s more common a few weeks after birth. Yes, we can retouch this, and yes, we do this all the time. Every baby is different, but the earlier the better, we usually manage to avoid it, in those first couple of weeks.
Having your Newborn photographed is YOUR CHOICE. Your baby, your choice. And if you’d dearly love to capture their beautiful new-ness, soft baby skin, little eyelashes, curled-up all womb-like, sleepy and content….. then 7-14 days is what you should aim for – this gives us best results of a sleepy, well-fed newborn baby, who’s still small enough to curl up, and young enough to sleep through their session.
Babies at 7-14 days have mastered feeding, are content with a full tummy, and are mainly asleep, apart from perhaps 20 minutes or so during a bath or “awake time” with Mum and Dad. 7-14 day old babies are usually settled, happy to curl up asleep, small and flexible enough to want to be wrapped up like in-utero, and content in a stranger’s arms. They sleep through most changes in positions while we’re moving from different setups in their session, and if they wake, usually a shhhh-shhhh-shhhh and gentle movements or swaying will put them back to sleep. They usually only wake with a cry because we’ve moved them mid-snooze, rather than being cranky and staying awake. As a Newborn Photographer, this age really does work best, and if we can see your baby at 7-14 days, we have the best opportunity to capture these beautiful poses for you, before your baby grows.
It’s also YOUR CHOICE to wait and have your baby photographed at 6, 10 or 12 weeks, 4 months, or not at all. But if you do want to wait, either for health or vaccination reasons, or for private or religious reasons, then you’ll be the first to see that your baby will not look or feel like a brand new, Newborn baby. I will absolutely always photograph your baby, whatever the age – but it’s important to know that the session will revolve around your baby, and what baby is currently up to.
**These babies below have been photographed from 6 weeks – 3 months**
At 6 weeks old, your baby has probably grown a few centimetres in length, and those beautiful 00000 and 0000 Newborn outfits are too small now *insert sad face!* Baby is alert for longer periods, having definite awake/asleep time, following your face when you move around her, maybe smiling or showing happiness when you stare into her eyes and make hilarious goo-goo noises 🙂
At 6 weeks old, baby is no longer a newborn. Maybe other friends or family have just had a baby in the last week, and ohmygosh doesn’t that just make your heart hurt… your baby has been here for 6 weeks, and there’s already newer “freshies” that have arrived since then!… Your baby is going through milestones, smiling and feeding, reaching out to touch you…and as a Mama, you’re recovering from your delivery, been to numerous checkups, thrown out the congratulatory flowers, worked through breastfeeding/bottle feeding/lactation consultants, and got the hang of feeding/texting/changing the channel/eating dinner at the same time. Perhaps your partner has gone back to work, and it’s you in charge now to make dinner/get dressed/shower (maybe not?)/make dinner… You’ve pushed your new pram a few times, hit the shops for new outfits and nappies, and got the hang of car seats. You’re giving baby advice to your pregnant friends. In a blink, that precious Newborn stage has come and gone, and you’re in “Pro” Mama mode now.
Beautiful Naya, pictured below, is 6 weeks new, and slept for part of her session, and also gave us beautiful awake smiles as well!
A six-week old baby can “sometimes” – and I say this loosely – “sometimes” pose like a Newborn baby, but your baby photography session will revolve around your baby right now – whether they’re awake or asleep, curled-up or wriggling.Six weeks is such a beautiful time, don’t be alarmed! It’s just very different to a newborn. You’ll notice your baby has “woken up” – I sometimes get parents who say to me at 10 days old, “ohhh my baby just sleeps all day, he’s so perfect” – and yes, your baby is perfect – but just wait for 2-3 weeks… babies need to have more awake time, and this is comin’ atcha whether you like it or not!
Let’s go a little older… 3 months. Beautiful Marley here is 3 months old at her session, and could lie on the beanbag and interact with her siblings. But then, perhaps the closeness of a stranger (me!), and her wanting Mama-cuddles, she needed a longer time to feed and settle to sleep. But gosh-darn, she is GORGEOUS.
So as you can see…. it’s all about you and your baby. If you desperately want “newborn” photos before your baby grows, then talk to your Newborn Photographer, and aim for 7-14 days as is “normal” for the majority of our babies.
If you want to bypass the newborn stage and have your baby photographed when they have more personality, bigger smiles, and longer lashes…. aim for 6 weeks+ ….. it all depends on your baby’s readiness, and what you’d love.
Regardless, book a Photographer to capture these early moments. Because they really are so fleeting. Soon you’ll be caught up in a delirious fog of newborn-cuddles, and you’ll be so glad you made the time to book this in early. Let us capture this beautiful, joyful time in your lives. x