Is there an ideal age for newborn photos?

The short answer is no! It depends on the type of newborn photos you are looking for, as well as your unique journey through pregnancy and childbirth. Answer the questions below, and I will help you choose the ideal age for your newborn photos.

Lifestyle or posed?

Are you looking for traditional newborn photos? Think sleeping babies, highly posed, lots of props and swaddling. 7 to 10 days is typical for this style.

Or do you want a natural look? This is typically referred to as “lifestyle” or “documentary” photography and is meant to tell a more authentic story of your family. I typically suggest 14 days or 6 weeks, but these types of newborn photos can be taken at any age.  

Indoors or outdoors?

Up until 8 weeks, I suggest newborn photos at home. This is where your baby is most comfortable, and it tells a true story – we spend a lot of time at home with our new babies. 

This is more a guideline than a rule (I have photographed tiny newborns outdoors and had a great experience), but most parents looking for outdoor newborn photos will want to schedule around 8 weeks of age.

Newborn photos with family

Are you looking for a newborn family session that includes extended family or siblings? Every scenario is different, but the answer to this question will help you choose the right date for a session.

Overhead view of parents and grandparents on the couch with a newborn.
Woman cradles newborn baby while wading in the warm ocean.

Your unique journey 

The ideal time for newborn photos is, first and foremost, the time that feels right for your family. Feeling comfortable and relaxed is a recipe for photos that stand the test of time, no matter how old your baby is.

There are also logistical realities to take into account – parental leave, visitors, and post-partum doctor’s appointments. Let these dictate when you schedule your photo session, not the other way around. 

Do you want to be photographed right after giving birth?

If you or your partner are hoping to be included in the photographs, consider whether you will be comfortable being photographed within two weeks of giving birth. I am a huge advocate of body positivity, but I also know that such rapid body transitions can be disconcerting. It is ok to want to wait a few weeks or months before stepping in front of a camera.

The First Week: Fresh 48 and Posed Newborns

Fresh 48

A category all of its own, “Fresh 48” sessions are completed within 48 hours of birth. These photos are often taken in the hospital, and they require a photographer with unique flexibility to accommodate the fact that birth can happen at any time. These photographs are not meant to be glamorous, they are to document the incredible arrival of a new life.

Black and white of mom holding an kissing a newborn in the hospital.
Baby Sleeping With Animal Plush Toy

7–10 days

Note that I skipped the 2 – 7 day range. Most families want the first week to recover and find a bit of rhythm. If you require a C-Section, you may be in the hospital for a longer stay. There is no need to add photography to this highly transitional time.

7 to 10 days is typically suggested for those families wanting posed photos of their sleeping newborns. This is often the period when they are at their tiniest (they usually lose weight after birth). They also sleep deeply and love to be swaddled – perfect for posed newborn photos.


There are a few things that also make this period challenging for photos –

  • Babies are often born a bit jaundiced, creating orange skin tones. 
  • Some babies (especially those born before 38 weeks) have a layer of hair called lanugo
  • Vaginal births often result in a temporary “cone head” that makes newborns look a little bit like aliens.

The First Month: Perfect For Lifestyle Newborn

Newborn photos at 14 days (recommended)

If you are looking for lifestyle or documentary newborn photos, but still like the idea of capturing that “brand new” baby feeling, I suggest scheduling your newborn session as close as possible to 14 days after birth. Sessions at this age usually include some time asleep, some time awake, and benefit from the bit of routine and rhythm established within the first couple of weeks.

2–5 weeks

I often get asked – “Is 3 weeks too old for newborn photos?

Absolutely not! There are plenty of reasons that newborn photos within the first 2 weeks simply may not work for your family, so don’t stress if you need to wait until 3 weeks. And if you like the idea of a more alert and interactive baby, I suggest waiting until 6 weeks anyway.

While I successfully photograph plenty of babies in this age range, I only suggest it when it is obviously the best choice for your family. At this point, infants are transitioning out of their super-tiny phase, but they are still yet to gain enough eyesight or expressivity to feel interactive. Lots of newborns also struggle with baby acne, which is most likely between 2 and 5 weeks of age.

Newborn photo at 3 Weeks

Newborn photo at 4 Weeks

Mom touches babies cheeks and baby smiles

5–8 Weeks: Capture Their Little Personality

I specialize in lifestyle and documentary newborn photography, and I absolutely love this age. I often suggest 6 weeks as a target date for my clients. 

Babies become more alert and interactive, and they have typically filled out, giving them that squishy newborn feel.

A great time for family newborn photos

The older your baby, the easier it becomes to include the whole family. While grandparents are usually great with newborns, siblings can be hard to incorporate with the tiniest of babies. Depending on the age of your other kids, we can sometimes safely get sibling photos by 6 weeks of age.

Toddler brothers lay on the floor with a newborn baby
Mom interacting with newborn baby, reflected in a mirror

More smiles and Interaction

By 5 weeks, parents will recognize a personality in their newborns. They begin smiling and interacting, and it is really fun to document that exciting development on camera. 

If you love the idea of capturing a few newborn smiles, wait until a bit closer to 8 weeks. Here’s a great article about when babies first smile.

After 2 Months: Not a Newborn Any More!

The newborn phase ends at 8 weeks

The technicalities don’t matter, but the newborn to baby transition is typically considered the 8 week mark. But don’t worry, nothing magical happens on their 8 week birthday, and I LOVE sessions with babies at pretty much every age. As I am writing this article our daughter is hitting 9 months. It feels like every week we are proclaiming a new “favorite age.”

Outdoor family pictures with the baby

With more head control and better eyesight, outdoor sessions with your baby become a lot more fun after 8 weeks. They are building a relationship with their environment, and that is a story I love to tell. By this age they are usually comfortable in a front-pack carrier or a stroller, allowing us to make the most of outdoor locations. 

Sibling interactions

Only you will know when it is safe for your older children to be alone with your newborn. But one thing is always true – as your baby gets older, they can inevitably spend more time alone with their siblings.

If you are struggling with the desire to have newborn photos as well as photos with all your children interacting, try to find a photographer that offers a package with multiple sessions included. My First Year of Life Package includes three sessions (typically newborn, 6 months, and 1 year). 

When do they get teeth?

I never knew how much I would miss that toothless grin. Their smile changes completely as soon as teeth come in, so it is worth considering how important it is to you to capture those “gummy” grins. My daughter was slow to get teeth (8 months) but plenty of babies get them much sooner. Here’s a quick read about when they get teeth.

There Are Always Surprises

Premature babies

Whether planned or unexpected, having a premature baby is stressful. I suggest keeping photo sessions scheduled in relation to their due date instead of their birth date, allowing extra time for hospital stays and more recovery time at home. 


Twins are so exciting! Yet I can’t even imagine making childbirth any more taxing than it already is. Cheers to you for getting through this :). Twins tend to be born earlier than average (twins typical due date), but you also may want a little extra time to recover. There is no right answer, just stay in close touch with your photographer!

Fussy babies

Everyone who schedules a newborn photo session worries that their baby will be fussy the whole time. Remember that newborn moods come and go quickly and that most photographers allow plenty of time to accommodate a break, a feeding, or even a short nap. As you approach your session date, don’t hesitate to reach out to your photographer and adjust the session start time to maximize the good moods.

Baby lying on the floor crying

Scheduled C-sections and inductions

If you are scheduled for a C-Section or an induction, scheduling becomes a bit easier! Inductions often take 24-48 hours, so add one or two days to your induction date to estimate the day of birth. And while C-sections are quicker, they require a longer stay in the hospital.

These procedures are commonly scheduled a week or two before your due date, but babies are usually considered full term by this point, meaning you can use their birth date instead of the due date when scheduling your session.

Tips for Scheduling a Newborn Photographer

What is the best time of day for newborn photos?

Your baby’s age is the first consideration, but the time of day is also important. From a photography perspective, I prefer scheduling in-home sessions during the middle of the day when there is plenty of light.

For outdoor sessions, the first two hours after sunrise or before sunset are ideal. Obviously, your newborn may have other ideas!

My suggestion is to consider whether your family does best in the morning or the afternoon and to create a loose schedule around that. For most families, this is the morning. The dreaded “witching hour” is usually in the late afternoon and is best avoided.

Make sure your photographer is flexible

Did you know that only 5% of babies are born on their due dates? It is important that your photographer is experienced with newborns and understands this reality. Simply ask how they handle early births or other surprises. There is no way to prepare for every possible circumstance; they simply have to be flexible!

Schedule newborn photos when you schedule maternity photos

Pregnancy and childbirth are all-consuming. Make life easy and schedule your maternity and newborn photo sessions at the same time. Sure, things may change as you get closer to your due date, but I recommend getting a date on the calendar and updating it as needed.

Lots of photographers offer packages that include both maternity and newborn photography. My personal favorite is my Four Seasons Package, which takes you from pregnancy through your baby’s first birthday!

Update your photographer Regularly

When things change (and they will), just let your photographer know. The sooner they can reschedule, the more flexible they can be. This is not a time to feel guilty about rescheduling – any professional newborn photographer considers this a necessary part of their profession.

Man looks out from behind a professional camera

Thanks for being here. I’m David Enloe, a San Francisco family photographer. I make soul-stirring pictures for families that find adventure around every corner. Want to learn more about the person behind the camera?


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