When I was pregnant with my last two babies, my pregnancy was considered "geriatric" because I would be at least 35 years old before they were born. I found the term laughable. Suddenly, at the ripe old age of 34 I was considered "geriatric!" When it comes to newborn sessions, most photographers prefer to photograph the baby within the first couple of weeks after birth to ensure a sleepy, poseable baby and anything older than that some consider "too old." (I'm coining the term "geriatric newborns" for these older newborns...because it's ridiculous and fun. You heard it here first folks!).
Can newborn style portraits be achieved with an older baby (3-8 weeks old)? Personally, I recommend parents plan for their newborn session to take place within the first two weeks after birth when possible, but that is only a guideline and there are many circumstances that might prevent that from happening, such as:
*a premature birth or medical issues that require a hospital stay
*parents that hadn't originally planned to hire a newborn photographer but, now that the baby is here, they realize how much they really want those photos and find themselves scrambling to find a great photographer that has last-minute availability
*someone in the family (or the photographer) is ill so the session has to be postponed
THE GOOD NEWS IS, A SKILLED, EXPERIENCED NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHER CAN CAPTURE YOUR BABY BEAUTIFULLY WHETHER THEY ARE SIX DAYS OLD OR SIX WEEKS OLD!
I have photographed babies at just three days old that made me WORK for those poses and I have photographed one month-old newborns that were complete angels and slept soundly throughout all of the set changes and posing! In fact, my own last baby was born with a tongue tie and he had so much tension that he was a TERRIBLE newborn model. It wasn't until we had his tongue tie released and chiropractic work done to relieve some of that tension that I was able to get him to do certain poses. He posed better for me at two and three months old than he did as a brand new baby!
In general, newborns start to have longer awake periods and become more alert and more inflexible as time goes by, which can make sleepy posing more challenging. Every baby is different though! You are not guaranteed a sleepy, "cooperative" baby for your newborn session just because they are within the recommended two-week period. A skilled newborn photographer has lots of tricks up her sleeve to work with more awake and alert newborns, whether they are brand new or quickly approaching two months old. Here are just a few of my favorite tricks to help my newborn sessions go smoothly, regardless of baby's age:
Trick No. 1
Awake time before the session
A baby that has slept soundly all morning is likely not going to KEEP sleeping while being moved, posed, and positioned for photos during their session. It may seem like your baby sleeps ALL the time at home, but you're not "messing" with them while they're sleeping like I do during a session. Keeping them stimulated before the session (talking and playing with them, giving them a bath, etc.) helps ensure they're ready to sleep soundly for their session once they've been given a feeding, which brings me to trick number two!
Trick No. 2
A FULL feeding at the start of the session
Ensuring the baby has a full belly when it's time to start photos is key to keeping them content and/or sleepy for their photos. While an awake baby can't typically be posed, the awake shots of baby's beautiful face showing their bright eyes and adorable expressions are often a parent favorite! I have mom wait to feed the baby until she arrives at my studio and baby is undressed first. That way, if baby falls asleep, we don't have to disturb him/her to undress. If baby is unsettled after a full feeding it's time to pull out trick number three!
Trick No. 3
Newborns are used to being curled up and compressed in the womb so being swaddled is comforting and makes them feel secure. We can get a lot of variety with wrapped styles and baby can be photographed both awake and asleep! Often babies will arrive awake, even after a feeding, so we start with some awake shots where they can get their wiggles out and burn some energy to start with. After that, we will see if baby will take another feeding and then swaddle if baby is still awake. Ninety-nine percent of the time baby will be fast asleep within a couple of minutes once swaddled!
Trick No. 4
Shushing and Vibration
Sometimes baby just needs a little more soothing to settle and a shushing noise and a little vibration provides that womb-like environment that they find so comforting! I have a Baby Shusher, a white noise machine, a Lullavibe, and a Sleepy Vibes that all help keep baby settled and comfortable. Mom and dad often remark that the environment I create to keep baby asleep and comfortable is putting THEM to sleep too (and parents are always more than welcome to enjoy a little nap in my comfortable gliding chairs in my studio while I work!).
If you're wondering when to book your newborn session, it's never too early to reach out (once that pregnancy test comes back positive, that is!). I recommend booking before your third trimester, when possible, to ensure availability. If your little one is already here, though, and you're wanting to book a last-minute session, don't hesitate to reach out. I will try my very best to find room on my calendar to fit your little one in! If you are having to wait a few more weeks to have your newborn's photos done for one reason or another, don't fret! I will patiently work with your little one to get you the newborn photos you've dreamed of, even if they are a "geriatric" newborn!
Click here to contact me to book your newborn session!