When you take your beautiful perfect baby home from the hospital, safety is a new parent’s top priority. From car seats, to sleeping rules, to feeding, it seems like there are a million things to think about to keep your baby safe. Booking a newborn session is not any different, and safety should be your top priority when looking for a photographer! In an industry that’s saturated with novice photographers (which I totally support, I’ve been there!) you want to make sure you choose the best one for you and your family. You may just find an amazing deal with someone who’s trying to build their portfolio or get started with their business, but make sure they know the facts to keep your baby safe.
Here are my top five ways to keep your baby safe when you book a session. This information comes mainly from my background as a pediatric registered nurse and by training with some of the best newborn photographers around country. Here’s what you need to know…
1. Make sure your photographer is up to date on Tdap, MMR, and the flu vaccinations. (I know this is a controversial issue – so let me lovingly say, this is not about judgment or what you do, but what I do and why) I fundamentally believe this is crucial for your baby’s safety. As a pediatric nurse I have seen many of these once eradicated diseases come into play at the hospital. Your baby’s immune system is brand new and fragile. If there’s a way to protect them, I will do whatever it takes to keep them safe. Also, this should go without saying but make sure they are washing their hands and using hand sanitizer. That’s one less thing you have to worry about as a new parent!
2. Always have a spotter. My newborns are never, ever, more than arms reach away. Little ones are stronger than you think – they can flinch or flail at anytime. You should have someone next to them at all times focusing solely on their safety and not on a camera. This is the main reason why I always have an assistant during my newborn sessions. Many poses you see are a “composite” photo (two pictures merged into one) and someone has their hands on baby at all times. New photographers may try to replicate this without the correct safety measures.
3. Make sure they are safely posing your baby. Airway and circulation should be top priority when posing. The neck should NOT be forced down to the chin in order to maintain an adequate airway and if their little feet or hands are turning blue from poor circulation, it’s time to move! If your baby has any health issues, make sure you let your photographer know beforehand so they can safely pose them. (For example, if your baby has developmental dysplasia (DDH) they cannot be put in the popular “froggy” pose or their hips will pop out of place.) It is common for babies to be fussy during posing so don’t let that alarm you, but they should never be forced into a position that is painful to them. Every baby is different and you have to go with their own individual preferences. Babies will tell you what they like loud and clear!
4. Keep them at a safe temperature. Newborns are not experts at regulating their own temperatures. They need to be kept safe and warm! I always keep my studio between 80-85 degrees because they are naked most of the session.
5. Ask them how they’ve trained. If you don’t feel comfortable asking any of these other questions, ask them how they have learned newborn photography. If they say they are “self-taught” or have learned from watching videos you can note that as a red flag.
Overall, don’t be afraid to ask important questions about your baby’s safety! If that is not your newborn photographer’s top priority, then they should not be your first choice when it comes to capturing those special memories.