Newborn Photography Poses (Shot List Included!)



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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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The short answer for how I pose newborns during a photo session is: I don’t. 

As a Documentary-style Newborn & Family Photographer, I find that:

  1.  Having an unobtrusive presence
  2.  Letting real moments play out…

… lead to getting great photos. Trust that things will progress and change throughout the session and you will end up with a nice variety of newborn photography poses without forcing them. 

Having said that… I always go into a session with a rough shot list in mind, while still leaving room for spontaneity and fun surprises. 

The most important thing I tell my parents is: be prepared to roll with the punches. Keeping the baby happy throughout our photo session will undoubtedly lead to the best results. This is why I never force a certain pose/situation if the baby isn’t having it. 

I know you’ve probably been thinking about holding your baby and capturing those first moments together for a VERY long time. You may even have specific images in mind. But in my experience, it’s best to focus on staying present and connecting with your baby and partner during your session, and the photos will take care of themselves. 

Check out my Newborn Sessions page to find out more!

What is the best age to photograph a newborn baby?

There is no wrong age for newborn photos. 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!
  • Some parents prefer to hold their new babies for most of the day while others like to have them nap in a bassinet or crib. Whatever your habits are, they will determine where your baby is most comfortable – and this might affect poses for your photos.  
  • If you have other children, consider how comfortable they are holding the baby. It’s tempting to push for those beautiful sibling photos, but I’ve learned that it always works best to be respectful of the children and go with whatever feels natural.
  • Visit my Newborn Sessions Page for more info

How to Safely Pose Newborn Babies for Photos

During my at-home Newborn Photo Sessions, 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. 

I don’t use props or any accessories. I do not move or position your baby. But I will give you suggestions about how to move along the session and make sure each parent and sibling have their own moment with the baby. 

To me, the most powerful images of your family will be the ones that capture moments of real love and connection. Those are the images that will elicit all the memories and emotions when you look back at them in 10 years. 

How do professional photographers get newborn babies to pose for pictures?

A happy and comfortable baby will make things run smoothly. Personally, I suggest specific images based on the newborn’s needs. 

If the baby needs to feed, let’s take breastfeeding/bottle feeding photos! If the baby needs to sleep, let’s take cuddly photos of them in your arms or swaddled in their crib! If the baby needs a diaper change, let’s take a quick moment to get some down-to-the-diaper shots!

5 Tips for Posing Newborn Babies

Again, this will all be based on the newborn’s needs. They don’t have many at this stage, so their cycle will probably look like this:

  1.  Sleep
  2.  Eat
  3.  Burp
  4.  Play 
  5.  Diaper change

Then rinse and repeat! Each stage presents opportunities for different photos.

For information on What to Wear during your Newborn Photo Session, check on this blog post the subject!

My 11 Favorite Newborn Poses that Every Parent Will Love

To reiterate what I mentioned above, I don’t actually pose babies, in the sense that I don’t reposition them or use props or accessories to photograph them.

I believe that capturing natural moments with very little direction leads to the most memorable photos in the long run. It creates context for your images – what did your home look like, how did you and your partner like to hold your baby, how did you interact with each other…? Those details are going to attach memories and emotions to your photos.

In terms of structuring a newborn photo session, I like to ensure we end up with a variety of images that represents your family and highlights all the ways in which you connect with each other.

Here is the shot list I have in mind when I walk into a Newborn Photo Session:

1. Family photo with the new baby – Squeeze everyone onto the bed or couch so you can be together!

The most classic newborn photography pose of all: the whole family - mom, dad, toddler and baby - all cuddling together in bed.

2. Portrait of baby – Focus on their little face so you can take in all the details!

Black & white portrait of a newborn baby sleeping in her parent's arms.

3. Alone time with mama/parent A – Document those delicious cuddles, when you still can’t believe they’re here.

Intimate portrait of a mother and her newborn baby nestled in her arms.

4. Alone time with dad/parent B – Enjoy a few minutes just the two of you.

Dad tickles his newborn baby with his whiskers.

5. Meeting older sibling (if applicable) – Sometimes love at first sight, sometimes it take a little longer. Regardless, it’s a moment to remember.

A toddler gives her newborn baby sister kisses on her mouth.

6. Breastfeeding or bottle feeding – Whether you are nursing or bottle-feeding, it’s a great opportunity to bond with your baby.

Intimate and moody image of a mother breastfeeding her baby while doing skin-to-skin.

7. Down to the diaper – Your baby will change so much over the first few weeks. Make sure to capture their little bodies at this stage!

Newborn baby down to the diaper lying on a grey, textured blanket.

8. Baby in crib or bassinet – The crib gives a great sense of scale. You can even set yourself up for milestone photos with this angle!

Black & white overhead image of a newborn baby lying in her crib.

9. Baby details – Tiny hands, tiny feet, tiny head…

Newborn baby's hand holds her parent's hand in this black & white image.

10. Just the parents – Take a moment to reconnect with your partner and reflect on what you’ve accomplished together.

11. Meeting a grandparent – If you or your partner are lucky to have parents who are around, make sure to document them with your baby.

Beautiful newborn baby pose: a grandmothers cuddles her grandchild and she lies sleeping on her shoulder.

Ready to book your own Newborn Session?

Reach out to me through my website and sign up for a free, no-commitment, 10-minute call to see if we’d be a good fit!


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