Newborn Photography Safety
The newborn photography industry has gone through quite the whirlwind this week about newborn photography safety. If you’re a photographer, you’ve probably seen the video. If you follow me on instagram you may have seen bits of it in my story the other day also. I won’t be attaching the video here as it was extremely discouraging to watch. The general gist of it was an “experienced” newborn photographer that was handling a newborn baby with excessive force, and even shaking them to try and calm them down into a pose.
As a newborn photographer, you’ll have to learn how to calm babies into a restful sleep. It’s just a part of the process. There are effective techniques and ineffective techniques when it comes to soothing babies. Educate yourself on everything there is to know about them. They’re important, they’re needed, and they’re essential to keeping babies safe while they’re in your care.
Some babies are very temperamental. Some babies don’t like their feet touched. Some babies don’t like their fingers flattened. It’s part of the process, and every baby is completely different.
You may want to use white noise to help soothe the baby. I always have white noise in my studio, if anything it just creates background noise and helps drown out any other noises from in the studio.
A pacifier can be very helpful in helping the baby to calm down by sucking and then settling into the pose. I always recommend parents bring one to their session. Even if they don’t “like” it, or mom is breastfeeding and worries about nipple confusion. Pacifiers are used so little in a session, it’s extremely unlikely it will cause nipple confusion, but they also make a huge difference in a successful session.
We’re not shaking the baby! Swaying is a movement that many babies enjoy. It is soothing to newborns since it simulates being in the womb. Let me reiterate, you’re not shaking them, or jostling them. Youre picking up their whole body and swaying with your body to help calm them.
Patting is another excellent technique. Again, we’re not hitting the baby, we’re patting! Similar to when you’re burping them, a gentle but firm pat on the back. Again, you will get an occasional baby who doesn’t like it, that’s okay – try something different. Don’t keep trying to pat them though.
Keep in mind that not all babies like any of these, or even any of them. It’s important to pay attention to your baby’s signals. If you’ve tried anything else, your baby is probably unhappy for another cause. Hunger, cold, or they might even have some gas pains.
If the baby is fed, dry, and not gassy – but still cannot be soothed, double-check your posing. You want to make sure your baby isn’t twisted in an unnatural way. Yes, they are extremely limber at first, but they can also be forced into roles that they do not like. A good example is breech infants. Because of how their hips have been, they don’t especially like bum up posses.
Never push a baby into a pose that can’t be soothed. There is no pose worth fighting a baby over. Yes, they may “whine” as you get them into the pose, but if they’re hysterically crying move onto the next pose. You can do any number of poses; simply move on to the next setup.
That being said, I believe it is important to bring unsafe practices to light. If you’re not sure how to calm a baby, please ask. If you’re not comfortable soothing a baby, don’t handle them until you are. Familiarize yourself with the newborn anatomy and their cues. A baby should never, ever, be hurt or uncomfortable to an extent of them screaming in agony.
If you’re new to newborn photography, take a workshop (from a credible photographer) to learn safe posing, and ask your mentor as many questions as you can to get comfortable with the process of posing newborns.
Newborn photography safety is a huge passion of mine. I frequently see brand new photographers that post images that are not done as composites (this is very dangerous). Some poses are meant to be done as two separate images and photoshopped together.
If you have any questions for me, please comment below and I’ll get back to you! Remember, there are others who can benefit from your question as well!