Baby Photography at 3 Months +
Today I want to share a blog post on the amazing opportunities we have for baby photography when little ones are 3-4 months old. This stage used to be very popular for baby photography before the trend for newborn photography really took off (nineteen years ago when I started out as a family photography newborn photography wasn’t the popular option it is now). It used to be that babies were most commonly photographed either at the 3-4 month stage or a little older at 6-8 months. Now, that beautiful, squidgy, snoozy, tiny, newborn phase is the most popular point for baby photography.
However, the window for newborn photography is short, ideally within the first couple of weeks after your baby is born and so, at the moment, is less of an option.
Lockdown restrictions currently prohibit family photography and while, like everyone, I’m hoping for a situation where restrictions can be safely lifted sooner rather than later, I’m aware that it’s not likely to be in the next few weeks. Each day I’m speaking to, or replying to emails from, new parents who are keen to have their babies photographed and who hadn’t considered that photographers would have to close. I wanted to write this blog post for them, to share some of the wonderful opportunities that we will have available for photographing their baby once restrictions are lifted and to reassure them that missing those newborn moments won’t mean they miss out on glorious photographs of their baby.
When is my favourite time to photograph babies?
I love photographing newborns, there is something absolutely wonderful about those first weeks as families get to know their new arrival. But I also love it when babies are a little older, are smiling, and their personality is really shining through, so I’m happy to fly the flag for photographing babies at 3-4 months old or beyond.
What can we expect at this point? It’s hard to imagine how the tiny baby in front of you will change and develop, especially in such a short period of time. We know they will be bigger physically, but I think it’s hard to envisage the difference that smiles will make, and at 12 weeks babies are all about the smiles. Big grins, that look of absolute delight as they see their parents, the wide-eyed curiosity as they look at the ‘baby in the mirror’. There’s such an emotional range to expressions by three months and these are so glorious to capture in photographs, even a wobbly lower lip if things aren’t going quite according to plan, or the glee of throwing food as weaning starts a little later in this first year, these all provide such opportunities for pictures. These expressions will be with them for all of their lives and I’ve found that photo shoots from three months onwards capture those lifelong features to a much greater extent than a newborn session where little ones are often asleep for the majority of the time.
With smiles comes more interaction, both with you as parents but also with siblings if you have older children. I find newborn sessions are a delight to see the beginnings of beautiful relationships between siblings, but there is also, sometimes a note of wariness, particularly with younger children as they get to know their little brother or sister. By three months this has passed, and relationships have developed. Older siblings always know how to make the baby laugh and are always delighted to show off this special skill.
Older siblings will often have games they play with their baby brother or sister by the time they are three months old – peek-a-boo or making noises and silly faces. These relationships are a total delight and family pictures with everyone laughing together snuggled on the bed or sofa are full of wonderful memories.
Why 12-16 weeks is a brilliant time for baby photos
By the time your baby has reached twelve to sixteen weeks old our opportunities for pictures have opened up. When they are tiny then obviously there are glorious sleeping shots as well as family pictures and those early snuggles and cuddles. Then comes a short ‘in-between’ phase when babies are often a little fussy and need to be photographed either being held or lying on their backs. Then, at 3 months or so, it all changes. At this point your baby will have developed neck strength and will be able to hold their head up. This opens up so many possibilities for wonderful pictures. It’s worth waiting until they can hold their head steadily and this does change from baby to baby but it’s usually in that 12-16 week window. Shots of little ones lying on their tummies on the bed and laughing up at the camera are a portrait style I’ll never tire of, classic, cute, and guaranteed to make you smile.
This neck strength also means they will often be comfortable sitting in a Bumbo chair and if you have one of these, we will definitely make use of it on the photo shoot. Bumbo chairs are amazing as they support your baby’s neck without them leaning their head against anything. This means we can take wonderful portraits even before they can sit up themselves. Bumbo chairs are also brilliant for sibling shots as your baby will be safe and stable allowing your toddler to jump in and out of the picture without them toppling over – and let’s be honest, we all know how active (and easily distracted) toddlers can be!
Stunning detail shots when your baby is 12-16 weeks old
I know how popular beautiful details shots are when photographing newborn babies and we can still take these glorious shots when your baby is 3 months old or more. Long eyelashes, tiny fingers clasping your hand, these are all available when your baby is a little older.
When photographing babies under a year I will usually do part of the session on your bed where your baby can roll around and snuggle in the duvet, often just wearing their nappy with a pretty cover. It’s lovely to really show them as babies with those chubby arms and legs and their squishy little toes. This is a perfect opportunity for detail shots and those milestones, such as when your baby discovers their own toes, are a joy to behold.
By three months your baby might be in a routine – or they might not
And it doesn’t matter either way as far as your photography is concerned. I only do one session a day, so we always have plenty of time for your pictures. I arrive early, usually around 8am so we can start the day when everyone is full of energy, and feeling well fed. If you stick to a particular routine, we work to that so that nothing is disrupted, and your baby knows what to expect with their day. If you don’t have a routine and just go with the flow then we do that, we take pictures until your little one looks tired, then we stop for their nap and continue afterwards. Taking a break works so well, little ones keep their energy topped up and I find that some pictures before the shoot as well as some afterwards works wonders if they are a little shy of strangers as some babies are, particularly this year when they haven’t met as many new people as normal. When they wake up and I’m still there you can see their little faces thinking ‘excellent, this nice photographer is a proper friend, how lovely’. We get such great pictures before and after their nap. I usually finish around lunchtime before their long sleep but there is flexibility if we need it.
Working in your home for half of the session gives us opportunities to include your home in the pictures and this will be wonderful for your baby when they look back in years to come. We can take pictures of them snuggled on your bed but also in their nursery or perhaps in the cot or playpen you might have in the kitchen, a place where they play while you crack on with some work or cook the dinner. This is your place and their place and by three months old your baby will have established their places within your home, allowing us to take pictures that you know will be full of memories. Have a think about areas in the house where you do specific things, a favourite chair for nursing, a particular circuit you walk to settle them after a feed, a place by the window where you look at the outside world. We can incorporate all these into your pictures. I know it’s not the same, particularly if you have been looking forward to newborn pictures for months during your pregnancy, but I hope this article is opening your eyes to some of the unthought of opportunities that waiting a few extra weeks will bring.
Indoor and outdoor pictures
I’ve always loved to take pictures outside as well as indoors and that’s the case whatever the age of your baby – I’ll often do some outdoor newborn pictures even if the session is in the depths of winter. I love the variety they offer you and there is a very different feel and mood to pictures taken outside compared to those indoors. Obviously if it’s pouring with rain then we stay inside but if the weather is fine then a walk in the park is perfect.
Once your little one is three months or older these trips outside become real adventures. Babies are so curious about what goes on around them and I love to see how inquisitive they are about people they meet, animals they might see at the park, and the natural world around them. Glorious shots as babies reach for leaves and blossom, cute shots as they sit on the grass, there are so many opportunities. We can take bubbles and books to the park which work so well in photographs.
Little ones spend so much time out and about its lovely to take pictures of these early days in the parks which will become so important as they grow up. I love images taken of me and my brothers in Greenwich Park over the years as that was our place growing up. Photographs of me as a baby, a toddler (lying on a skateboard before my second birthday, no helmet, thanks mum and dad), and as an older child learning to ride my bike or climb trees. These have such resonance for me as an adult. It’s lovely to take your children to the parks that they will remember, take their first pictures as perhaps they try a swing for the first time or watch in fascination as their older sibling demonstrates their prowess on the climbing frame or zipwire.
There’s so much interaction and enjoyment as they grow, these pictures will fill you with joy.
Sitting up – six to eight months old
It’s not just three to four months old that is delightful for baby photographs. After about twelve weeks it just gets better and better as your babies grow and develop and discover more about the world around them. By a year then they are obviously bigger and becoming the little people that will soon be toddling about and causing glorious havoc in your home. Before that when they are not yet moving around, they still feel very much your tiny baby and so whether it’s three months or six months or nine months we can take pictures which will transport you back to these early days.
By six to eight months your baby will be sitting and when we reach this milestone it is worth timing it so they can sit steadily (this avoids frustration from your little one and the need to prop them up with cushions which can clutter your images). Once they are sitting it’s just so much fun, for you, for them, and for their siblings. The photo opportunities are endless and will be so full of memories of your days, your routines, your homes and favourite places. If you want to track one child’s first year I have a gallery on my website that does just that, there are so many lovely options at different points.
The opportunities are endless
As your baby grows the opportunities for photographs grow with them. I hope that this article will fill you with excitement for the pictures we can take together after lockdown ends and will go some way to reassuring you that you haven’t missed out even if you are unable to have professional pictures taken while your baby is newborn. I will go above and beyond to provide you with pictures to treasure whether your baby is 3 months, six months, nine months, a year, or anything in between.