Sleepy Baby Tips
First of all, I would like to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for allowing me (and trusting me) to capture such precious memories of your sweet baby. It is my hope that together we create not only an amazing experience, but gorgeous, timeless images as well.
I have an in-home studio, allowing me to use my creativity to the max while having a flexible schedule, and providing you with the comfort of my own home. I do have two dogs and two cats (also two kids and a husband), so if you are allergic, please let me know ahead of time. Otherwise, the entire downstairs is dedicated to my studio so they will be out of sight during your session. If you do like dogs, free puppy kisses may be an option.
My Home Studio Address Is:
2105 S. Valley View Rd
Sioux Falls, South Dakota 57106
The first few days of a baby's life are magical and also quite the adjustment. I came up with this guide to state the importance of how parents play an important role to a successful, pleasant and enjoyable experience for your baby's first photoshoot.
So... lets get started!
Yay!! I know you are just as excited as I am to capture those little tiny fingers and toes while it lasts! Once you and baby have been giving the green light to go home, please contact me right away to schedule a definite date and time for your session.
The "sweet spot" for newborn photography for me is right around 9-12 days after birth. At this point your milk has most likely come in so that baby will stay nice and full. Around 9-12 days is also when their cheeks start filling out and they begin to get more rolls.
Still need to come in after the 12-15 day mark? No worries, my training and experience as a full time newborn photographer has taught me ways to soothe and nurture the feistiest angels to sleep. Trust me, I have my ways, so take notes :)
Babies do very well in the studio for posing when they are in a very deep sleep. To encourage this I highly recommend, stimulating the baby at least 2 hours before your scheduled arrival, a warm bath always does the trick or “naked time”. This also means keeping them awake during the car ride here and refrain from feeding 2 hours before arrival as well.
Unfortunately there have been a few moms that will say, “My baby sleeps through anything”. Come to find out in a very unfortunate way, no they actually don’t.
Please dress baby in loose fitting clothes, to avoid any lines on skin and to also avoid disturbing baby when getting undressed. A simple sleeper with a zipper is best. Please avoid onesies or anything that has to be pulled off over baby’s head.
Please feed your baby right before you come to the session, but leave just a little bit in the bottle that way we can top the him/her off when you get here. It will be the same concept if you are breast feeding. Once burped, I will take your little one and start getting him ready for the first portion of the session, family pictures.
As you might know babies don’t like the feeling of being naked, they want to be warm and completely snuggled (although I will have a small heater in place to keep them warm) still, they are naked. That alone completely startles and wakes up a baby faster than anyone expected and because of that, they are now fully awake. Some babies fall into a deep sleep once picked up, wrap in a small blanket and soothed for about 15 minutes and then there are the babies that have been asleep for 3+ hours before arriving and are now refusing to go to sleep. Ahhhh, gotta love being a newborn... lol!
From experience, babies that have been asleep prior to arrival are unfortunately the babies that are more difficult to pose because as soon as the blanket comes off, they get startled again and it’s back to trying to put them to sleep. That alone can take up to an hour, if not more and unfortunately does count against your session time.
Keeping in mind these instructions will most certainly give you a well-rested baby. In return we’ll be able to maximize the time you have in the studio with plenty of scenes and photos so for that reason please do not underestimate and risk how well your baby sleeps after a feeding. We need your bundle of joy to be very exhausted, tired and a bit hungry. I know it will be hard, atop of your own sleep deprivation but I promise you, it will be well worth the effort!
I highly recommend if you’re solely breastfeeding to pump and bottle feed your milk for your babies session. I’ve had mom’s that breastfeed for up to an hour and unfortunately that does delay the session quite a bit and does count against your allotted time coverage as well. If you don’t pump, my only alternative is to formula feed just for this session only. As a mother to 2 kiddos I’ve realized breast milk doesn’t keep our babies fuller longer so choosing to formula feed for the session, will not only be a little easier for you but it will keep them asleep longer during the handling and posing for a scene. *please note that this is just a suggestion based on my experience, not a requirement*
If nursing, try to avoid eating anything spicy or acidic (i.e. pizza, hot sauce, etc.) or anything that will cause gas and might upset baby’s tummy for 24 hours preceding your scheduled session. A gassy baby will not pose well during the session due to their little tummy being upset.
*Some other foods that may cause gas are dairy products- milk, cheese, yogurt, pudding, cream, or any food that has milk, milk products, casein, whey, or sodium casein it, as well as foods with caffeine, soy, fish, peanuts, chocolate, wheat, beef, nuts, eggs, corn, or citrus fruits (Courtesy BabyCenter & Modern Mom parenting).
*If baby happens to be gassy the day of your session, Oval or Gripe Water can be used to help ease baby’s discomfort.
Again, please note that this guide is just a recommendation so if you choose not to follow certain steps, that is completely okay! I feel it’s my duty to offer any advice or tips that you as a parent can use to maximize the time we have in the studio and in return you’ll be able to showcase and display more than the average number of baby photos! ♥
That I have been called many times...lol but no worries, it happens! This is completely natural for babies to use blankets or props as their own personal potty. Please don’t feel embarrassed, I reassure you it happens more times that I can remember. I have two small kids of my own so not long ago, it was their never ending mission to make mommy their own personal potty! Have a concern about sanitation? Don’t worry I wash all used props and blankets after each newborn session with non-scented detergent.
Mom & Dad you are a big part of the show. Photographing the connection between you and your baby is why I love newborn photography most. Just as they encourage in the hospital, skin-to-skin contact creates the most beautiful images. I encourage parent portraits with the new baby, and these are usually done at beginning of the session. Neutral/Earth tones tend to look best. For more artistic shots, Dads may choose to remove their shirts and Moms may choose to be wrapped in a scarf, wrap or other stretchy material available in my studio. These can make for some very tender images. Please note that you have access to my entire client closet. I have over 50 dresses for you to choose from, ranging in all sizes. I always say, bring a "safe" outfit and if you want to take a peek when you get here, you are welcome to do that as well.
**A note to Mom: I know that you may not feel like yourself right after giving birth, but I strongly encourage you to have a portrait taken with your new baby while they are still so young and fresh. Your baby will grow up so fast, you will want to remember what his/her tiny little fingers felt like in your hand and what it was like holding your little miracle close to your heart. I will photograph you in flattering angles, so don’t worry! Worst-case scenario is that you don’t like the image and never look at them again, but at least your child will have this moment documented**
If you have older siblings that you would like photographed with your newborn we will do these right after your family shots. Same concept for color pallet, neutrals or earth tones look best. The more texture the better (knit, lace, etc). They’ll be barefoot, so no need to look for clean shoes. You will have access to the client closet for siblings as well, I have lots of options to choose from, specially if you have a girl :)
*Due to the nature of the session, I ask that your spouse/partner take the older siblings home or out for something fun to do while we finish up with the rest of the session. If that is not possible, please let me know and I will make sure to stock up on snack and things to do for them in the meanwhile. Please note that there are a lot of things that are tempting for little ones to mess around with. For that reason I do ask your significant other to keep an eye on your kiddos at all times.
Few Extra Thoughts
1. This is a full service studio meaning that I will be changing baby’s diapers, cleaning up any messes, and feeding baby when required during the session. I usually ask that Moms stay out of hearing and smelling range; your connection with your baby is truly magical. Once baby is able to know that mom is around, he/she will automatically know its time to eat! I have always had the most success by being the only one to interact with baby during the session.
2. Chances are you’ll be here close to 2-3 hours so I highly recommend eating a good hearty breakfast before you arrive. I know this can be a very exciting and stressful time for you, especially when adding sleep deprivation in the mix! As much as my goal is for baby to be comfortable, I also want you to be comfortable and at ease! I have a few couches for you to relax on and just so you know, it is perfectly acceptable for you to take a nap.
3. Please do whatever you can to keep the noise to a minimum during our session. Maintaining a calm environment is also a big key to a successful newborn shoot. I do have a white noise app that I will keep close to baby during the session to help soothe him or her. Babies love strong and rhythmic sound. Amazingly that’s the sound they heard 24/7 in the uterus!
4. Since babies are usually photographed naked, the studio will be set at a temperature of 80F to ensure baby is warm and comfortable. If we’re not sweating, it’s probably not warm enough for baby! Please make sure that you keep the door to the studio closed at all times, to prevent the heat from escaping. Parents please make sure to wear comfortable loose clothing. I will also provide water and snacks.
5. Safety is my utmost number one top priority when handling your baby, sometimes I get lucky and a fellow photographer becomes available on our session date to assist, if not either mom or dad will be my spotter/assistant for the session. All eyes and hands are to be kept around baby during posing. During the session I will be handling and posing baby, but don’t worry I have plenty of experience handling a newborn. I will hold and care for him or her as if they were my own, I promise!
6. I spend a lot of time getting every little finger and toe positioned perfectly when photographing your little bundle. First and foremost, it is important to me for your baby look comfortable and peaceful in the photographs and for each image to be a piece of art. I have a lot of experience and patience with newborns. I have two children of my own and have photographed over 100 newborns. My motto is safety first. I will never put your newborn in an unsafe pose/prop.
7. If you have a boy, let's talk circumcision. Circumcision can often leave the area raw and painful for a few days after the procedure. It is important to note that newborn photos should be done either before the procedure takes place or at least 5 days after the procedure to ensure the area is healed.
8. PROPS and ‘Pinterest Requests; I supply all of the backdrops, furniture, hats, headbands and wraps for the session, and my style tends to lean more toward simple photos that focus on baby. I am always open to new ideas but be aware that I will not use anything that will harm, irritate or look awkward or controversial (guns, deer antlers, etc.) on your newborn. If you see something you like in any of our galleries, be sure to mention it before your session. I am open to suggestions on poses that you may have seen from Pinterest but please understand that every pose we do depends on how well baby cooperates and how safe the pose is for your little one. I cannot guarantee any pose for this reason.
Being chosen to photograph these precious moments for you, means a lot to me so anything I can do to make it an outstanding experience, please don’t hesitate to let me know!
Again thank you for giving Elena Russell Photography the opportunity to capture these unforgettable memories for you and your family.