Welcome to the fourth post in the Newborn Session Series –  When to Take Newborn Photos: The Complete Guide. Throughout this Newborn Session Series, I will be guiding you through the entire process. From deciding to have your newborn photo session, all the way through what to do with your photos once you have them, we’ll be covering everything you need to know to ensure you end up with beautiful photos you will cherish forever. 

Feel free to bookmark this post and come back to it as all of the posts will be linked here as they are released.

More in this series:

  1. The Top 5 Reasons To Book a Newborn Photo Session – Even If Feels Overwhelming
  2. The 20 Most Important Questions to Ask Your Newborn Photographer Before Booking
  3. What To Wear For Newborn Photos: The Complete Family Guide
  4. When To Take Newborn Photos: The Complete Guide
  5. 5 Tips for An Easy In-Home Newborn Session
  6. The 8 Best Newborn Photos At Home
A newborn baby boy wearing a white onesie and wrapped in a white swaddle. His hands and feet are showing. HIs feet are crossed at the ankles and tucked up towards his stomach and his hands are up under his chin. This photo is being used as an example of when to take newborn photos at 5-10 days old.

Another one of the most common questions I get is when is the best time to take newborn photos. From when to book your photos through the pros and cons of each age range, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about planning the perfect time to have your newborn photos done.

When to begin the process of booking your newborn photos

Ideally, once you have reached your second trimester and are feeling better, it’s a great idea to start reaching out to newborn photographers. Many newborn photographers book up months in advance so to make sure you are able to work with the newborn photographer of your choice, make sure to reach out as early as you feel comfortable doing so. Bonus tip: Many photographers offer special packages that include a Maternity session. Some even offer a first-year package that includes your maternity, newborn, and first-year sessions. Reaching out in your second trimester will ensure that you have enough time to plan each of those sessions.

When is the ideal time to take newborn photos?

If you’ve ever googled “When to take newborn photos” you’ve most likely seen the time frame of 5-10 days. While there are many good reasons to take newborn photos at this time, it’s not the only time you can successfully take newborn photos. I’ve done newborn photos as old as 7 weeks, and my own son’s newborn photos didn’t happen until he was 5 weeks old. 

There are many different reasons families don’t have newborn photos done in the 5-10 day mark. From NICU stays, to slow recoveries for mothers, to just needing more time to settle into life with a newborn, any (and all!) reasons to wait to take newborn photos are valid! One of the most common things I hear is that people simply didn’t think they wanted newborn photos until their baby arrived. There is nothing wrong with this, and I always try to have some flexibility in my schedule to accommodate these situations.

When To Take Newborn Photos: 5-10 days old

This is considered the “ideal time” for newborn photos by many photographers – especially those that do more posed and prop-based photography. At this time, your baby is still very sleepy – sleeping up to 17 hours per day. This is great for newborn sessions because they typically will sleep comfortably through it. They are also more flexible which allows for the snuggly poses. Wrinkles and fine baby hair are more visible at this stage which may be something you want to capture. 

Close up detail images of a newborn baby's hands and feet.

Reasons to wait longer than 5-10 days: 

The number one reason to wait is because waiting will ensure that you are more recovered and feeling better. One of my top priorities when it comes to newborn sessions is making sure that you, Mama, are feeling recovered and ready for your session. Your body has just been through so much and I want you to feel up for the photos. There is absolutely no shame at all in wanting or needing more time to recover. 

Another reason to wait is that you will have more time to learn your baby’s cues and routines which can lead to a smoother session for you. If you have other children, waiting a little longer can give them more time to settle into the idea of their new baby brother or sister being there. 

When To Take Newborn Photos: 2-3 weeks old

I love this age! Babies are more awake at this age so the odds of some images with eye contact increases dramatically. On the other hand, they are still sleeping a lot during the day so sessions go quickly. Mama is usually feeling more recovered and camera-ready, and older siblings have had some time to get used to the idea of their new baby sibling. This is a beautiful time for lifestyle newborn sessions!

As part of an example of when to take newborn photos during the 2-3 week age range, these 2 photos show a mother and father holding their baby who is making eye contact with them. The mother is wearing a white dress and the baby is wrapped in a white swaddle.

Reasons to wait longer than 2-3 weeks:

A NICU stay or health concerns for baby are very good reasons to wait! My own son was in the NICU for 3 weeks followed by a flurry of various doctors appointments. We simply didn’t have the time to do newborn photos! While I am very comfortable working with babies with special needs (and am certified by The capABLE community) as well as babies who have various medical equipment, it is YOUR comfort that is most important. Waiting longer to ensure your baby’s safety and your comfort are both very good reasons!

Another reason to wait is that baby acne can flare up at this time. While it is something that typically can be fixed in Photoshop, it might take a little extra time to get your photos back to you. There is also the 2-week growth spurt to think about. This can cause more frequent feedings during the session. While this isn’t an issue for me (I’m more than happy to wait while you feed your baby!), it can cause some stress/frustration for parents.

When To Take Newborn Photos: 4-7+ weeks

Baby has typically had their first round of vaccines, so having people around is safer. They are more awake, make eye contact, and recognize both your face and your voice which can make for some beautiful images of you and your baby looking at each other. Mama is typically pretty well recovered physically at this point, and parents tend to feel more confident with the care of their baby. Siblings have also had more time to settle into their role as the big brother or sister which can lead to some incredibly sweet images of your children together. 

A series of three images showing an 8 week old baby and his older brother along with their parents. THe entire family is sitting on the bed.

Reasons to wait longer than 4-7+ weeks: 

Again, physical or mental health concerns for baby or Mama are completely valid reasons to wait! Postpartum is a wild roller coaster and you need to give yourself as much time as you need to recover physically and mentally. 

If you have chosen to wait or had to wait for whatever reason, please don’t hesitate to reach out about newborn photos! There’s the old saying “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is today”. Don’t beat yourself up over missing the “ideal time”. Any photos that you and your children have are incredibly special and are worth having done – whether they are 5 days old, or 5 years old.

Next week we’ll be tackling the big question of how to prepare for your newborn sessions so be sure to check back to learn more!


Kate Voda is a New Jersey Newborn Photographer specializing in in-home newborn lifestyle photography sessions and lifestyle portrait photography sessions. Kate serves Central New Jersey and the surrounding areas.

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Effortless Maternity, Newborn, & Portrait Photography