Newborn photography can be one of the most specialized and difficult forms of photography because of the unpredictable nature of newborns. If you’re a natural with babies and you have that “magic touch” when it comes to comforting them and getting them to sleep, then you may naturally excel in newborn photography. But even if it’s not second nature to you, there are general tips and rules to follow when handling and comforting a newborn baby. In this article, we have 5 tips to help you calm and comfort the newborn, and overall have a productive and happy shoot.
In the following article, we’ll review the following tips:
- Use White Noise or Soft Music To Comfort A Newborn
- Swaddle Or Wrap The Baby
- Be a Calming Presence
- Gently Rock The Baby And Use A Soft And Soothing Voice
- Keep Your Hands Warm
Watch the Video | 5 Tips on Comforting a Newborn During a Shoot
Watch the video of Pye demonstrating baby comfort on an actual shoot. This particular article will focus on baby comfort, but if you’re looking for more newborn photography tips, be sure to see this article.
Use White Noise or Soft Music for Baby Comfort
One of the commonly used methods in the past was to grab a hairdryer, bring it into the room (not too close to the baby), and turn it on during the shoot.
This method is a bit outdated and we have some 21st-century solutions for you. If you have a cell phone, there are apps that you can download that are specifically designed to help sooth babies. My favorite app is the White Noise Lite for iPhone.
You may also consider purchasing white noise makers like the hatch, pictured below. The hatch is great because it provides you with different noise options. It’s also app controlled for added convenience.
Prior to your shoot, you may also want to create a playlist of soft lullabies. You can find pre-made playlists on Spotify. Whether you use white noise or soft music will depend on what the baby is accustomed to at home.
Swaddle Or Wrap The Baby
Swaddling or wrapping the baby is a wonderful way to simulate that safe and in-the-womb feeling for the newborn. This is a great way to keep the baby calm and comfortable in the set or in between set changes.
There are many right ways to swaddle a newborn, and swaddling a newborn is accomplished by simply tucking in the arms and wrapping the baby with a blanket or a semi-elastic cloth to simulate that wonderful feeling of being in Mom’s womb.
To do so, follow these steps on how to swaddle a baby:
- Open the cloth out on a table and flatten it out
- Place the baby in the swaddling area, which should be warm.
- Grab one side of the cloth and while holding the newborn’s hand in the position that you want, wrap the side of the cloth around and underneath his or her backside on the other side.
- Grab the bottom of the cloth and then do the same thing with the left side of the cloth. Bring it around the other side and tuck it in.
Now this takes a bit of practice, but within a few tries you guys should all be pros at swaddling. Just remember to swaddle the baby based on the pose and the look that you’re going for. You can swaddle the newborn with his or her arms out, with the hands barely visible, or completely tucked in. Really there’s no right or wrong way, it just depends on what look you’re going for. Artistically, I kind of prefer wraps to swaddling, but both are vital skills for a newborn photographer so we’re going to cover how to wrap when we get to that portion of the shoot.
Baby Comfort Starts with The Photographer As a Calming Presence
I’m a strong believer that newborns are super sensitive, and can therefore sense your nervousness. If you’re nervous in handling them, they’re going to pick up on it and become upset. So stay calm and be confident when handling the newborns. Baby comfort starts with being comfortable yourself.
Gently Rock The Baby And Use A Soft And Soothing Voice
Remember to use a soft and soothing voice when talking to or around the newborn. If a baby becomes upset you can have mom rock them until the baby calms down. Sometimes mom or dad already knows the best baby comfort tricks for his or her own child.
Tip 5. Keep Your Hands Warm
If you noticed in the photos or the video above, I’m wearing gloves. The reason is because I don’t want to startle or upset the baby with my cold hands. If you have cold hands but don’t have a pair of thin cotton gloves, then run your hands through some warm water before handling the newborn.
Sometimes baby comfort is as simple as thinking about what makes people comfortable in general, and nobody likes being touched with cold hands.
When shooting a newborn portrait session, you want to make sure the newborn is as comfortable as possible. Each baby is different and unique, so baby comfort tricks for one baby may not work for another. Also, check in with the parents if you’ve tried all of the above and you’re still not seeing any success. Lastly, don’t be afraid to give the baby a long break or even reschedule. It’s not worth trying to force a few shots with the baby flailing around. Those same shots would be much faster and better with a sleeping baby.