Tips for photographing a preemie newborn baby

Introducing this week’s cutie: Nora!  I loved hearing her story while I photographed her newborn session.  It made me feel really honored and blessed to photograph such a little miracle.  Nora was born premature.. and, even at two months old, she rocked her session.  Below are some favorites from her in-home newborn photoshoot in Boston, Ma.  And whether you are a professional newborn photographer or a mom wanting to take your own baby’s photos, below are tips on preemie newborn photography.

5 Tips for photographing premature newborn babies

With a bit of planning, tips, and prep, you can get amazing newborn photos of an older preemie baby!

1. Plan the photos around their original due date

Usually, newborn photo sessions are best within the first two weeks of life.  This is often impossible with a little preemie.  According to Romper, babies are considered premature when they are born before the 37th week of gestation.  Because of their increased risk of infection and complications, preemies are likely to be transferred to the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) of the hospital right after birth.  There, they stay until they are healthy enough to thrive out of the hospital.  Their time there can vary from a handful of days to multiple months.  I find that planning the photography session around the original due date works best because the baby is {hopefully} out of the hospital, the parents are settled at home, and the baby is heavier and looks “fuller” for their photos.

2. Newborn prep is key

Like with all newborn photo shoots, newborn prep is essential for a comfy session.  See my newborn prep here.  Because preemies are photographed much older, following the prep steps is even more important.  A benefit of photographing premature babies is that after spending so much time with their little ones, parents are great at knowing and understanding how to best soothe their baby.  Another key is knowing what is their baby’s best time of day so you can plan accordingly.

3. Plan on having the baby wrapped

Babies looovvvve being wrapped and swaddled!  According to BabyCenter, swaddling helps babies feel secure and warm.  It also helps babies from being disturbed by their own startle reflex.  Swaddling keeps babies warm and comfortable until their internal thermostat is established.  I always equate it to the nice feeling of getting tucked into bed as a kid. 😀 As babies get older, they are more likely to be awake and alert during the day.  Due to preemie babies being much older at the time of their baby photos, it’s even more important to keep them wrapped and comfy.  At the end of the session, I slowly unwrap babies and hopefully get some shots of them in their birthday suits.  As you scroll down, you’ll see we were successful with Nora, who was over 2 months old!

4. Use a variety of colors and poses

I usually plan a mostly-wrapped session with preemies.  A fun part is using lots of colorful wraps and poses.  For Nora’s session, I used a variety of wraps, headbands, bonnets, and props for at least a dozen different looks.  Wraps were layered on and peeled off with each look in an effort to keep her swaddled and comfortable.  I also planned on an assortment of poses that work well with a wrapped baby.. check them out below!  As an added bonus, you can experiment with digital backdrops for a fun and unique look.  For this in-home preemie photography session, I used a rainbow digital backdrop purchased on Etsy.  You can see this backdrop here.  Look around at the array of digital backdrops and get creative!

5. Don’t forget the 5 S’s and to have fun!

As with all newborns, don’t forget the five S’s as a soothing technique.  A Today article discusses Dr. Harvey Karp, and the 5 S’s in his DVD and his book, The Happiest Baby on the Block.  The 5 S’s are Swaddle, Side-Stomach Position, Shush, Swing, and Suck. They produce a soothing womb-like sensation that keeps babies happy and calm.  With this in mind, I always recommend parents have a pacifier available (preemies often are used to and love pacifiers).  Also, use a Baby Shusher (or a free white noise app) during your baby photoshoot.  And as a photographer,  don’t be shy… ask the parents on tricks they use to soothe their babies.  Most importantly, connect with the parents and learn about their little miracle babies.  It’s definitely such a blessing to be able to photograph these special babes!

In-home Boston Ma newborn photographer, Isabel Sweet

I am a baby and newborn photographer in the Boston area. I am happy to provide boutique photography services to the South End, Back Bay, Fenway, Brookline, Cambridge, South Boston, Belmont, Arlington, Lexington, Needham, Beacon Hill, Newton, and beyond! All sessions take place in the comfort of your own home or favorite location. This in-home photo session took place in Boston, Massachusetts. Interested in a newborn baby session? Contact me now!

 

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