The Newborn Photography Checklist for Parents

Overhead photo of a newborn born in his crib, his pose reminds us of superman



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I'm Marjorie


I work with parents who want relaxed and unposed photos, providing them with images that capture the joyful and unscripted moments in life.

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So you’re thinking about getting newborn photos — that’s great! I know it can feel overwhelming, which is why I’ve created the ultimate Newborn Photography Checklist for Parents to help you navigate this whole process, from start to finish. (Grab your FREE pdf copy below!) Here’s what this article covers:

  • Finding the right photographer. (What criteria to consider.)
  • Setting expectations for your session. (What images are you hoping to get?)
  • Preparing your home. (How much do you need to clean up? What steps can you skip?)
  • What to wear for each family member. (What to wear for baby, parents, older siblings.)
  • Understanding the timeframe and deliverables. (What is your photographer delivering and when?)

I know having a baby comes with its own laundry list of things to do. There is SO MUCH to think about before they’re even here!

But I’m here to tell you to take a breath… everything is going to be okay. Hopefully you’ll find an amazing photographer who will guide you through the whole process. But just in case you’re not there yet, I’ve got you! Here’s the Newborn Photography Checklist for Parents–

Table of Contents

How To Prepare For Your Newborn Photo Session: An Overview

Here are the main steps you can expect to take before, during, and after your Newborn Photo Session:


  • Hire a photographer
  • Complete their intake process – this may include a phone call, questionnaire, preparation guide, etc.
  • Discuss a plan for your session with your photographer.
  • Prepare you home – figure out where the session is going to take place and get those areas ready.
  • Pick outfits for each family member.
  • Think about any specific moments/items/areas you want to capture – tell your photographer.
  • Think of any boundaries you might want to set – avoiding certain rooms in your home, no bottle feeding photos, etc.


  • Maintain a positive mindset – focus on staying happy and relaxed so you can set the tone for the rest of your family.
  • Prioritize you baby’s needs. A happy baby makes for a smooth session. If they become fussy, don’t be afraid to take some time to figure out what they need in that moment and make sure they’re comfortable.
  • Stay flexible. Get ready to roll with the punches in case any surprises come up.
  • When wrapping up, make sure to cover next steps with your photographer.


  • Depending on how your photographer works, now is the time to download digitals and order products.
  • Back up your photos. Photographers don’t keep their client images indefinitely.Make sure you’re covered.
  • PRINT your photos! These products will be invaluable to you and your kids – don’t skip this step! Do it through your photographer, if that’s an option. Otherwise, purchase print products while you’re still excited about your new photos.

Frequently Asked Questions from Parents about How to Get Ready for a Newborn Session

How do I find the right photographer for me?

Check out my article Finding the Right Newborn Photographer for a more thorough answer. Or watch the introductory video below to get a peak.


The photographer’s style. Are they a portrait, lifestyle, or documentary photographer? Are you clear on the difference?

What do they charge? Does their pricing fit your budget? Are you willing to invest in your experience as well the actual photos?

Do you want an in-home session or would you prefer to be on location? Not every photographer does both.

Are you interested in digitals alone or would you like to purchase some print products (such as individual prints, framed prints, acrylics, photo albums?) Does the photographer you’re considering offer the products you’re looking for?

Check out the other videos in my article Finding the Right Newborn Photographer.

When should I schedule newborn photos?

The short answer is: ahead of time. I would recommend booking a photographer around your 6th or 7th month of pregnancy. 

Why? For two reasons. First of all, most photographers will book up 2-6 months in advance. Busy seasons for newborn and family photographers are usually Fall and Spring. So if your baby is due around those times, book early to guarantee availability. 

Secondly, you will be BUSY once your baby arrives and have lots to worry about. Your schedule will be very different from what you’re used to with around-the-clock feeds and sleep deprivation. You might not have the mental bandwidth to look for and book a photographer during that hazy period. 

A new mom shushes and rocks her newborn baby as they stand in the middle of a messy living room, filled with baby toys and accessories.

When is the best time for a newborn photography session?

Newborn photos can be taken any time in the first 12 weeks. There’s no best or worst time within that period. The decision will vary from person to person. But here are some things to consider:

  • After giving birth, you’ll have an adrenaline high for about 4 days. That makes day 3 or 4 post-delivery a great time for a session!
  • The remnants of the umbilical cord will fall off your baby’s belly button about 5-14 days after birth. If seeing it in photos bothers you, then it’s safest to schedule a session around 2 weeks postpartum or later.   
  • If you have older children, they might need some time to adjust to life with a new baby. Some kiddos take a little longer to fall in love with their new sibling.

What time of day is best for our newborn photo session?

If we’re talking about at-home photo sessions, mornings tend to work better. Babies are usually in a better mood in the morning and parents will have more energy at that time.

In terms of lighting – lifestyle and documentary photographers are trained to be flexible and work with natural light or their own lighting equipment. 

With on-location or studio sessions, the photographer might have specific requirements or recommendations which allow them to achieve their signature look. 

Overhead image of a sleeping newborn baby in his diaper resting on a pillow over mom's lap, dad's hand reaches in from the side.

What should we wear during our newborn photography session?

Your outfit selections will heavily depend on the style of your photos. Portrait photographer will have very specific looks they want to accomplish. Lifestyle photographers might suggest anything between jeans and a t-shirt, to long flowy dresses. Documentary photographers will typically suggest wearing something you would wear on any given day so the photos reflect your actual life.

Most photographers have their own outfit guides. Here is mine for What to Wear For A Newborn Session.

Regardless of style, make sure you are comfortable in your outfit. You should be able to move around, feed your baby, sit on the ground, etc. Don’t wear anything restrictive.

Finally, the idea is to keep the aesthetic cohesive with your home decor. Those colors will show up in your photos! Not just amongst all family members, but with the look of your home. Everything should work in harmony.

Family of four together at home, all wearing neutral tones that complement each other providing the perfect example of what to wear for a newborn photo session.

Do we need to worry about posing the baby?

During your newborn photo session, the baby will typically be in one of three locations:

  1. In your arms
  2. In their crib/bassinet
  3. On your bed (either with the whole family or on their own – in which case you would only be an arm’s length away.)

*Unless you decide to work with a portrait photographer on posed studio portraits. That’s a different scenario.

With lifestyle and documentary photographers, there is no use of props or accessories, and the photographer will typically not touch your baby to reposition them. Instead, they will give you guidance on how to accomplish a variety of images. These might include:

  • The whole family
  • Baby with each individual parent
  • Baby with older siblings, if applicable
  • Portraits of the baby
  • Details of the baby (hands, feet, etc)

Some photographers will be more aesthetically driven, while others will focus on capturing the connection between the family. Another reason why it’s so important to choose the right photographer at the outset and make sure they offer whatever it is you are looking for.

Close up image of a newborn baby girl lying on mom's chest and sleeping comfortably, mom watches her happily.

How do we keep our baby calm during the newborn photoshoot?

Newborn babies have very simple needs. (Eat, sleep, poop.) The best way to keep a newborn happy is ensuring those needs are met – starting with a belly full of milk.

Burping them after a feed is essential. Their bodies are still learning how to digest milk, so any gas trapped inside can become increasingly uncomfortable. 

A dirty diaper won’t bother them too much at this stage since they just spent close to a year relaxing in a jacuzzi. But it’s always a good idea to make sure they are clean. 

In the context of your photo session, I recommend respecting the baby’s schedule and putting their needs first. A relaxed and happy baby will give you the best results.

Don’t worry about disrupting the session to see to your baby’s needs. If you’re working with an experienced newborn photographer, they will know to be flexible and collaborate with you to get the best photos.

Dimly lit image of a newborn baby breastfeeding while doing skin-to-skin with mom.

Should I do the photo shoot at a studio or at home?

Lifestyle and Documentary photographers (such as myself) will typically offer in-home sessions. For posed studio photos, you will want to hire a Portrait Photographer.

Here are the advantages of an in-home session

  1. You’re in your comfort zone. It’s your space, your schedule, with all your favorite things around you.
  2. There’s no need to pack everyone up to be somewhere by a specific time.
  3. You get to document your home, where you’ll be spending most of your time with your newborn, and where all the memories are being created.
  4. Your photos will reflect not only how your newborn looks, but also the love and connection your family share.

Deciding where to have your session is a big consideration when finding the best photographer for your family. If you’re on the fence or confused about the difference kinds of photography available for newborn photos (portrait, lifestyle, documentary) check out my article, Finding the Right Newborn Photographer where I break everything down and help you determine which style works best for you. 

Should I invite the grandparents to the photo session?

Absolutely! Especially if members of your extended family will be active caretakers, I think it’s a great idea to include them.

However… they do not need to be present throughout the whole session. When my newborn clients bring extended family, we invite them to join us for the last 30 minutes or so. That ensures that the majority of your session focuses on your nuclear family – whatever that might look like – but there is some space for extended family as well.

As a result, you should see the same when you look at your photo gallery. Most photos will feature just you, with a few extra shots with other family members.

What To Do Before, During, and After Your Newborn Photo Session

It’s a good idea to step back and look at the full journey you’re taking from finding a photographer to receiving your final photos and (possibly) products. 

BEFORE your newborn session…

The most important decision you’ll make when it comes to your newborn photography session is picking the right photographer for you. 

There are a lot of photographers out there so finding the right one can feel overwhelming. 

There are several things to consider:

  • What style of photography am I looking for? Options are portrait, lifestyle, and documentary photography. 
  • How much am I willing to spend on newborn photos? Do I want to have a VIP experience or am I only concerned about the final results?
  • Would I like a session at home, on location, or at a studio? What is the benefit of each option?
  • Am I interested in print products such as loose prints, framed prints, and albums, or do I just want digitals?

Once you’ve found your newborn photographer, look to them as your guide to show you the way.

A newborn baby is playfully snuggled by his father.

Here is what you can expect from a photographer BEFORE your photo session.

  • They will have you sign a contract and ask for your due date. 
  • Some photographers might collect a deposit or charge the full booking cost upfront. 
  • A preparation guide with all the relevant information you need to know in order to prepare (what to wear, how to prepare your home, etc)
  • A questionnaire to learn more about your family.
  • Some back and forth communication where you have the opportunity to make your expectations clear (what specific moments you’d like to capture, if there’s anything that’s off-limits,) and talk through any concerns with them.

(Keep in mind the list will vary depending on the photographer’s price point and intended client experience.)

LEADING UP TO and DURING your newborn session…

The two main things to consider leading up to your session are: deciding what to wear and tidying up your home. These tasks can be stress-inducing, so my recommendation is to not take it too seriously. 

To help keep this manageable, remember that the main goal is to eliminate distraction. 

If someone’s outfit has a large, recognizable logo – that will create a distraction. If there’s a laptop computer in the middle of the room with lots of cables and hard drives around it – that will create a distraction. If your partner shows up in a lime-green sweater – you guessed it! It’ll create a distraction.

Remember, the focus of your photos is YOU! The people! Your new baby! So avoid anything that will keep you all from shining in the images. 

And here are some things to remember during your session:

  • Focus on your own mood and disposition. Stay light and relaxed so that your baby and partner can join in. 
  • Be flexible with your expectations. Babies are somewhat unpredictable and they need what they need when they need it. Get ready to roll with the punches and change the plan along the way.
  • Bring up the specific moments you want to capture with your photographer. (Details in the nursery, a photo of just you and your partner, etc.)
  • Remind your photographer about your boundaries, if you have any. (No photos in the kitchen, no breastfeeding photos, etc.) 

AFTER your newborn session…

Hopefully your photographer will have communicated clearly about what to expect after your session. You should know ahead of time how long it will take to receive your images and what everything costs. 

The actual delivery system will depend on your photographer’s business model. If they have an all-inclusive model, for example, they might send you a downloadable folder with all your photos. 

If they have a service + products model, you will likely receive images through an online gallery and be offered different packages. 

If your photographer provides a more personalized, boutique, experience, they might offer print products as well as digitals. 

Here are a few reasons to consider investing in print products (not just digitals):

  • You already have thousands of digitals on your phone. And that number is going to grow very quickly once your baby is born.
  • High-quality print products will last for years, possibly decades, and will only increase in value over time.
  • Your kids will love seeing photos of themselves all over your home. 

Check out my article My 5 Favorite Print Products (And Why You Should Buy Them) for more product ideas.

Overhead picture of a photo album with an image cover of a 6-month-old baby with yogurt all over her face. A hand reaches over from the side as it to flip through the album.

Newborn Photography Checklist: Top 10 Tips for a Successful Newborn Photo Session (PDF Below!)

Now we can take all that information and boil it down to the ultimate Newborn Photography Checklist to ensure you have a successful newborn photo session.

Don’t forget to grab your pdf copy!

  1. Make sure you’re working with the best photographer for your family. Are you clear on their style? Portrait, lifestyle, documentary? Does that suit your needs? Have they made you aware of their pricing beforehand? If you need some guidance, check out my article on Finding the Right Newborn Photographer!
  2. Establish open communication with your photographer. You should know ahead of time: how long your session will last, what will happen during your session, when you will receive your photos, their business model (all-inclusive vs service + product, etc.) Ultimately, you should feel prepared for your session before it comes along.
  3. Respect your baby’s needs. They don’t have many (eat, sleep, poop) so prioritize their routine to avoid letting your newborn get cranky. 
  4.  Be flexible with your expectations. Beautiful images are a given – of course. But leave room for things to happen naturally without feeling forced. You might be pleasantly surprised with what unfolds!
  5.  Focus on your mindset. Having a newborn is a lot! Whether or not this is your first child, a new baby is a huge adjustment. You will not be able to control other people in your session (your baby, your partner, siblings,) so bring your focus inward. If you are happy and relaxed, others will take the lead.
  6. Don’t stress over a messy house. Don’t drive yourself crazy trying to pick up every last thing. Think about the rooms in your home you’ll want to be in, (nursery, your bedroom, living room,) and focus on those. And remember – a little mess won’t ruin your photos!
  7. Pick what to wear ahead of time. A great way to start is to look around your home. What colors do you see? Are there any items in particular you’d like to include in photos? Keep things simple but make it cohesive. For more information, check out my article on What To Wear For Newborn Photos.
  8. Set aside extra outfits. Be ready for spitting up, dripping milk, and leaky poops. You’ll find nobody manages to stay clean for too long, so be prepared for some wardrobe changes!
  9.  Think about specific moments you’d like to capture. If you have specific images in mind (breastfeeding the baby, the nursery decor, baby in their diaper) make a list and discuss it with your photographer. 
  10. Think about any limits you want to set. You might not want breastfeeding photos, or a certain room in the house photographed. Take some time to consider this beforehand and make those limits known to your photographer.

Grab your Free PDF Here of The Newborn Photography Checklist for Parents!

Free pdf guide: The Newborn Photography Checklist for Parents

Newborn Photography Checklist For Parents

Marjorie Cohen is a Los Angeles Newborn Photographer offering at-home documentary sessions to families in LA County. Marjorie works with parents who want relaxed and natural photos with their newborn. Follow along in Instagram for her latest work!


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