How to Prepare for your Lifestyle Newborn Session


In-home lifestyle newborn sessions hold a very special place in my heart. You get to have a session done in the place you spend the most time, where you have the most memories and get to capture all of the beautiful details of your little one’s nursery. You also don’t need to pack up your belongings and travel immediately after giving birth.

During these in home sessions, my ultimate goal is for you to be as comfortable and relaxed as possible. Babies (and even siblings, especially toddlers who are adjusting to life with a new baby!), are on their own schedule and have their own agenda. For this reason, plan on me being there for up to two hours to ensure it gives everyone time to adjust, get the breaks they need and leave it to me to capture the memories.

It is important to note that I do lifestyle newborn sessions, so I believe your baby is perfect just as they are. That means I do not place them in any specific poses, and rather encourage parents and/or siblings holding your new bundle of joy or on the connection during the moments. I have put together this post specifically for in home newborn sessions to help give you tips and ideas to make the process go as smoothly as possible.

1. Best Time to Schedule

The best time to schedule a newborn lifestyle session is within 7-14 days after your baby is born. This timeframe usually ensures you feel more settled as parents, and your newborn is still in those early days of increased slumber. These sessions will most often occur between 10:00-12:00pm for up to 2 hours. Babies arrive on their own time, so we will tentatively schedule and finalize a date and once they arrive, you will reach out to me to schedule the session date.

2. Preparing your Home

I want you to feel relaxed and in your element as much as possible, which is why we are capturing images in your home. You do not need to deep clean for me (you just had a baby for goodness sake!), but we will most likely move anything distracting in the areas we will likely photograph: master bedroom, living/family room and nursery. Essentially, anything you wouldn’t want in the photographs would be best to move ahead of time. 

Lighting is so important during in home sessions. If you have time prior to our session to send me pictures of your master bedroom, living room and nursery (bonus points if you can tell me the direction the windows face!), this helps me to pre-visualize our session. Depending on the strength of the light on the day of the session, I will also bring items to help control the light to give you the most flattering images.

Another important factor is that I will shoot in all natural light, which means overhead lights will need to be off during the session. If you can, shut off the lights and open the blinds in the rooms you plan to have me photograph in, as this helps when I arrive (and I do not have to awkwardly try to open your blinds! Why are they all different in every house?!)

*A tip: adding fresh flowers to a side table or dresser in the a room we will be photographing in will add a beautiful touch to the photos. Never a requirement, but if you need your spouse to run last minute errands, or if someone has brought you flowers, it can be a wonderful touch!

3. Preparing Baby

The day of the session, it will be important to feed your baby right before we begin. Fed babies are typically happy babies! If baby is sleeping during the early part of our session, it will also help things move along smoothly, so if you can keep baby awake prior to our session that helps too. 

At the end of the day, the baby will lead the flow and if they need breaks for feeding, then that’s what we will do! These breaks give me a chance to photograph the details of the nursery, etc. If you are interested in having images taken of you feeding your baby, let me know below!

I recommend having a couple outfits and swaddles ready for your session. During many sessions, babies have had accidents on their outfit and required a change. Also, some babies prefer being swaddled during the session, so having those readily on hand can be helpful. I always bring some extra knotted gowns and swaddles you are more the welcome to use during the session too.

*A tip: Some families opt to give the baby a bath to help soothe, keep them awake and have them fresh for their session.

4. Preparing Siblings

Do not be surprised if I immediately become BFFs with your other children when I arrive. The adjustment of a new baby can be felt hardest by siblings, I know this first hand. Our son did not want to be in many of the initial pictures and preferred to play in his room. So, let me be the first one to tell you that’s okay!

Prior to the session, let them know your friend Nicole is coming over to take photos of the whole family. Place the emphasis on the whole family. Let them know she is interested in getting to know you, and the whole morning will be full of fun, dancing, cuddles, and showing Nicole your favorite things.

I want to make them feel as comfortable as possible, so I may ask them to show me their room. Take some photos of them alone. Ask them to help and grab a book, burp rag, or toy for the baby. I want them to feel just as special during these sessions, even though the focus is on the new baby. If they want to take breaks or play in their room during photos, that’s okay. We will get sibling shots and whole family shots, but not push them—I want the experience to be enjoyable for them too!

*A tip: Sometimes saying things in a funny way like, “Okay- this picture is just of mommy, daddy and baby! Don’t get in…okay?” helps the toddler to want to run and jump in. Also asking the toddler, “what does the baby smell like- strawberries? chocolate?” helps to have them get close enough to kiss the baby and keep them entertained. 

5. Preparing You and Your Spouse

I have found that often times spouses feel out of the loop with photos (maybe I am just guilty of this!) Please feel free to share this post with them so that they understand the process and what will happen. Let them know we will photograph everyone together, each parent with the baby and baby solo. There will be plenty of time for your spouse to go check a work e-mail or grab a snack. I want them to be present and available, but also know they can take breaks as needed.

For you, my biggest goal is for you to soak up this time together and relax, snuggle your baby and enjoy our time together. If your baby is fussy, that’s okay.  We can change diapers, feed them, pace and shush, whatever they need! If they are awake, that’s okay too. If they sleep through the entire session- 100% fine. I know you may have so many feelings about your body, lack of sleep and being in front of the camera. I had those feelings too. Trust me when I say, you are beautiful and these photos will be timeless keepsakes of this special time in your lives.

*A tip: I will be photographing a lot of hands on the baby, so if you want to paint your nails or invest in those press on nails before our session, other mamas have found this tip helpful because they mentioned it was something they forgot (you have a lot on your mind!) 

5. Preparing your Pets

Let’s make sure your furry family members are included too! Please let me know if there are rules for being on the bed, couch, etc. We will work around your house rules to make sure we capture some wonderful images with your pets as well.

*A tip: If you have an animal in the home that sheds, I recommend avoiding black clothes during the session. They tend to attract hair, which will show up on clothing in your images.

6. Props

Even though my favorite kinds of newborn sessions are unposed and organic, I still have found that there are a few things you can add to your shoot to add an entirely new level of cuteness. If have some of the below items on hand, so please let me know below if you would like me to bring options or have any ideas. I would love to hear them!

  • Moses basket
  • swaddle blankets
  • textured throw blankets
  • hats/headbands
  • furry rugs
  • family heirlooms

If you have any additional questions, feel free to reach out and contact me. If you’re interested in booking your lifestyle newborn session, you can start the process here.

Nicole is a Stockton, California based lifestyle, family photographer who specializes in authentically capturing the beautiful connection you share with your family. As an on-location natural light, lifestyle photographer specializing in newborns, maternity and family sessions, Nicole understand the importance of celebrating each season of your life. Nicole is based out of Stockton, California and serves the greater San Joaquin County and surrounding areas, including Lodi, Galt, Tracy, Manteca, Ripon and am available for travel in Northern California.

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