7 proven tips to keep baby asleep during a photo shoot

How do I keep baby asleep during a photo shoot?

Last week, I was snuggling a warm little newborn against my chest and gently bouncing her up and down, up and down, soothing him back to sleep. 

7 proven tips to keep baby asleep during a photo shoot

Obviously, it’s hard for a little one to keep sleeping (unless they are in a super deep sleep) while I’m moving them from the bean bag to the table to be wrapped, to the changing table to be unwrapped and into a diaper cover, into mom’s arms, into dad’s arms, and even more disrupting…into “big” sister or brother’s arms. All in the span of about 2 hours. Phew. I mean, could you sleep through all of that? 

how to keep baby asleep during a newborn shoot

So yes, back to me bouncing this little babe between a transition, and her grandma curiously asked, “Do you ever have a session where they don’t go to sleep?” 

I didn’t always have it figured out

At the beginning of my work with newborns, I struggled to keep baby asleep during a photo shoot. I think it was a combination of my own nervous energy (I still have nervous energy, but not nearly as much as I did in the beginning), not having my own studio, so I couldn’t control the heat and sound, and inexperience that didn’t give me the patience I have now.

Now, my experience tells me that although it may take a while, eventually, the baby will sleep. Newborns always sleep. Or if they don’t sleep, they will at least be calm and content. That’s what I’m after. A content baby, whether that means they are content awake or content asleep, can create magic. 

So, if you are worried that you won’t be able to keep baby asleep during a photo shoot, don’t be. Many a favorite photo has been chosen by parents (with a gallery full of sleeping baby photos) with their eyes open. 

awake baby at her newborn photo shoot

7 tips to keep baby asleep during a photo shoot

With your newborn sleeping, there are a few more poses that I’m able to fold and curl them into, and I love creating these for you if we are able to.

poses like this are only achieved by keeping baby asleep during a photo shoot

So, how do we keep baby asleep during a photo shoot? Here are some of my top tips: 

  • Awake time. Before leaving your house, task someone who is done getting ready first, maybe dad or a grandparent, with giving baby a bath and massage. The royal treatment! The idea is to get in some quiet, relaxing awake time. Give baby a good full feeding before getting into the car. 

  • Warmth. The studio is going to be REALLY warm. Like 80-85 degrees warm. Stay cool by hydrating, slipping into the backroom, where shorts, etc. But trust me on this: the heat is one of the newborn photographers tried and true tricks of the trade. Babies don’t regulate their body temperature like adults do, so it’s important to keep the air warm while they are unclothed!

  • Pacifier. Bring a pacifier or use a packaged one I have at the studio. Even if you aren’t using one at home, it’s a great tool that I’ve found works really well for many babies. Sometimes, using a pacifier can mean the difference between getting the photo and not. 

  • Swaddle. I’m a firm believer in a good swaddle. It’s like giving your baby a snug, cozy hug that reminds them of being in the womb. Some babies get a little cranky when you first start to swaddle them but hang in there because they will settle, and we’ll be left with a content model!

  • Yoga ball. I have a big yoga ball in my studio that is great for bouncing babies. They love it, and I love it because it doesn’t burn my quads as much as standing and bouncing does. haha

  • White noise. In addition to playing music during your baby’s newborn session, I’ve got the studio stocked with a baby shushers and multiple white noise machines. It’s pretty loud in there! But they just came from an environment where it was constant white noise and whooshing in the womb.

  • Feeding. The willingness to feed on demand for the session works wonders to keep baby asleep during a photo shoot.

Your baby is going to do great! You are going to do amazing, and I’m confident with our powers combined we’ll be able to keep baby asleep during a photo shoot, no problem.

Contact me here and let me know when you are due. I’d love to get you more information about scheduling your newborn photoshoot. 

Interested in reading more about keeping baby asleep at home? My favorite book on the topic is The Happiest Baby on the Block by Dr. Harvey Karp

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