What to Wear For Your Lifestyle Newborn Session (& Helpful Tips on How To Prepare for Session Day)
Congratulations, mama! If you are expecting a sweet new addition to your family soon and are looking to plan for baby's first close up (and your first official photos as a family) either with me or another photographer, I am here to help make things a little easier! Newborn photos are so special since babies are only so tiny and new for such a short time; it is always an honor to be asked to document this special season for families.
Most newborn sessions are typically planned to be taken during baby's first two weeks of life for this is when baby is still sleepy and we can capture all of their tiny features. If you prefer to take them when baby is older (or if you missed that short newborn window) that is also totally fine. With lifestyle newborn sessions you do have more flexibility since you have the option of taking them in the comfort of your own home and it's okay if baby happens to be awake--most of time baby will be your arms anyway!
(Keep in mind with older newborns things can be a little more unpredictable since they can be more alert, but it is still doable and you can absolutely capture special memories!) Of course, there are unexpected circumstances that can arise like if baby comes early and needs time in the NICU, etc. and we can work around that if needed. Typically I recommend that clients reserve and book their session as far in advance as possible and then once baby arrives we can schedule a tentative date and go from there!
All in all, if you are looking for outfit inspiration from what you already have in your closet or are looking to splurge on something new to commemorate this special chapter in your life, this is the place for you. Not only do I have outfit ideas for everyone in the whole family (including baby) but I am also offering some tips and tricks you may not have thought of to help make session day run as smooth as possible (just keep reading to the end!) I know most moms are recovering from delivery so looking your best on photo session day can help you feel much more put together (even if you don't quite feel like it yet, lol). How you feel definitely shows in the final images! I hope this helps you create beautiful memories that you can look back on in the years to come.
Without further ado, let's jump right in!
Start With a Color Palette
When starting to plan outfits for any photo session, whether it's indoors or outdoors, it can be super helpful to start with a color palette. You can find so many different color palettes online (Pinterest is a great tool to start with when trying to find a color scheme you like!) or you can draw a color palette from your home decor/style or even from a specific season.
For lifestyle newborn sessions I highly recommend using a neutral and muted pastel color palette (think light and soft colors) to help achieve that light and airy aesthetic that I gravitate towards. A mainly neutral color palette keeps the focus right where it belongs--on you and your growing family, instead of what you are wearing. Also, another reason white and other light neutral colors are strongly recommended are because they help the photographer to capture your true skin tone and can also reflect light back on to you, which is a nice bonus!
The colors I find that photograph beautifully indoors are white, off-white, cream, blush, dusty rose, mauve, dusty/baby blue, sage green, light gray, light beige and tan/taupe. Colors to avoid are black, dark navy and other dark colors when possible as these can make your final images look more moody and not as light and airy (unless this is the look you gravitate towards!) Also, avoid bright and neon colors at all costs as this can throw color casts onto skin and we don't want that if we can help it! (Top colors to avoid are bright orange, red, hot pink, bright yellow, etc).
A good rule of thumb (this isn't set in stone, but a good starting point) is to have at least 2-3 colors, with one of those being a neutral color (like I mentioned above) so that everyone is coordinating but not matching. PSA: Stay away from having everyone wearing all white casual t-shirts and jeans, try to avoid this whenever possible as it invokes the cheesy era of all matching families on the beach. (You know what I'm talking about, lol!)
A good place to start is to pick mom's outfit first, or if one outfit has a pattern pick colors out from there. For example: say mom is wearing a floral maxi dress that has a white background with small dusty pink flowers; dad can wear a white button down or a white solid t-shirt paired with either khaki pants or nice jeans. Baby girl can be swaddled in a white swaddle and wear a velvet dusty pink or white bow to coordinate. Big brother could wear beige or even light gray knit overalls, this extra neutral color can help break it up and make it not too matchy-matchy, as well as add texture. If you ever want any help with deciding or want feedback on your outfits before session day reach out to me (or your photographer), I would be more than happy to you!
For Mama - Outfit Inspiration
I love it when mamas wear long maxi or midi dresses for their session, I find that they make the final images feel so sophisticated and put together. I also think they are so flattering and beautiful for mamas who are freshly postpartum! Overall, try choosing something that has texture or movement (such as chiffon, lace, swiss dot, smocking, knit, tulle, embroidery, etc). Texture can add so much life and interest in the final images, especially if you are wearing mainly neutral colors!
I also love dresses or blouses that have fun sleeves to add personality (long or flow-y sleeves photograph so beautifully and can help you feel more confident especially if you are more self conscious of your arms). You can also have fun with it and wear a muted print or wear something off the shoulder if you're feeling more adventurous.
If you are incorporating prints and patterns into your clothing choices, I would try to stick with smaller, less distracting prints (such as gingham or small florals). Big and bold prints can be busy and a bit too eye-catching so instead try to pick prints that are on the smaller side and that are low contrast. Low contrast prints are of similar colors/tones so they don't stand out too much and blend nicely. Stripes can be great too but I would try to avoid tiny pinstripes as this can sometimes cause a Moiré effect which makes fabrics (when photographed) have a wavy pattern and we want to avoid that if we can.
For Baby - Outfit Inspiration
A common question I get asked a lot "is what should baby wear for their newborn session?" The answer: keep it simple! Newborns are more often than not swimming in their clothes in the beginning so I highly recommend that they wear something that fits them well and is their size. Try to stick with newborn or preemie sizes unless your baby happens to be bigger than average.
Some great options are a neutral newborn gown (either the ones that tie at the end or the classic coming home gown), a classic bubble, a cozy knit shirt/pants set, or a solid white onesie. Feltman Brothers have a beautiful selection of classic newborn bubbles and gowns. Zara and H&M have adorable cozy knits for newborns. Knits are great for adding texture and looks beautiful on camera! I love clothing that shows off their adorable toes so if you can put them in something footless that would be great too!
If you just can't decide or if your clothing options are too big, my go-to for newborns is them being swaddled in a neutral stretchy swaddle with just a diaper cover/bloomers underneath. You can't go wrong with that! Most babies love being wrapped up snug and it can help them fall (and stay) asleep. Lou Lou and Company and Copper Pearl have a great selection of soft and stretchy neutral swaddles that are perfect for newborn sessions.
If you are looking to dress them up while still being swaddled I love when clients want to swaddle with a classic southern bow swaddle, you can find them on Beaufort Bonnet or even Amazon. I would try to stick with a solid swaddle if possible, but if you want to incorporate a printed swaddle I would stick with a simple, small print that isn't too busy or distracting. Simple accessories for newborns can also set off their outfit! A sweet small bow/headband for baby girls, or a classic bonnet can add texture and personality (boys can accessorize too)!
For Dad - Outfit Inspiration
Dads are pretty easy for the most part! Dads can wear either a button down shirt (can be solid or a small pattern), a solid t-shirt or a Henley t-shirt. Those are all options that are (for the most part) comfortable but still photogenic.
I would avoid anything that has a big collar and no distracting logos or words on the front. For pants, they could wear nice jeans, khakis, or dress pants (whichever looks the best with the color palette you've chosen.)
For Big Siblings - Outfit Inspiration
For big brother(s) or big sister(s) I would also try to stick with something they are comfortable in and can move, jump, and play in. For little girls, dresses or bubbles are always classic and timeless. You could also do a dress and bloomer set for something more comfy/causal. Try and make sure your little girl wears neutral bloomers underneath since we will be playing and having fun during the session!
For older girls, if they don't want to wear a dress it's no problem! A jump suit could be just as cute and comfy.
For little boys, you could go the more classic route or go more trendy, either is sure to be a winner! Classic jon-jons, bobby suits, or bubble/sun suits are always adorable or you could have them wear knit overalls for a more casual vibe. Zara and H&M have adorable knit overalls for toddlers/young boys. Older boys could wear something more classic mentioned above or you can have them wear a neutral solid t-shirt/light knit sweater with nice jeans or khakis (depending on season).
"The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before.The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new." Osho
4 Tips to Help Your Newborn Session Go Smoothly
Start Planning Early
So you've gotten a color palette together and outfits have been chosen--now what?! Here are a few tips to help make session day run smoothly (as things can get with a newborn, ha).
First off, I strongly recommend that clients plan to start putting their outfits together as far in advance as possible so you can iron out any last minute details that might come up along the way. Whenever possible I like to send out my newborn session guide at least a couple months before baby's estimated arrival so my families can be thinking about what they will wear and not be super stressed after baby arrives.
That said, start planning early so you give yourself plenty of time for outfits to arrive leading up to the session (if you are buying something new online or in-store) and make sure they fit well in advance--this is so important! When you are comfortable and confident in what you are wearing it shows on camera! You can also take the time in the weeks leading up to your session for any special appointments you might want to make such as hair/makeup and getting your nails done (your hands will be in many of the detail images and you want them looking good!)
Help Prepare Your Older Children (and Dad) Ahead of the Session
To help ensure a smooth session as possible it's a fantastic idea to introduce your kiddos to your photographer in the weeks leading up to session day and let them know what to expect. Keep things as causal and upbeat as possible to help get them excited and help ease any nerves they may feel. Some great ways to help prepare your older children are to show them a photo of your photographer, tell them their name, let them know how special these photos will be to you (and to them in the future) and all the fun things you are going to do as a family during the session! You could also plan to go on a fun outing as family to get ice cream or another special treat to enjoy after the session is over, something to look forward to never hurts, right?!
Also, keeping a positive and upbeat attitude can go a long way during a session with older siblings, especially if you have toddlers. I know in the moment it can be hard to let go but loosening your expectations and letting go of perfection greatly helps us photographers provide the best experience we can for you and us in general. I know letting your child be silly and maybe a little wild and unpredictable can be tough for some parents, but trust me, we will capture some beautiful photos even in the chaos! They might even surprise you.
If you have a wiggly/rambunctious toddler or young child who doesn't sit still easily (under 2 yrs old especially) I would recommend having lots of non-messy snacks on hand (more on that below) and a helpful trick to getting them to look in baby's direction or to sit still for a few minutes you can hide a treat or snack near baby. I've also heard of other photographers using neutral stickers to help them interact with baby which is also a great idea. All in all, photographing families with young kids is not for the faint of heart, but we love what we do! My main tip is just to keep smiling no matter what is happening around you, even if the kids are climbing up the walls or one kid is crying. Just keep smiling and we can capture some magic! :)
Wear the Right Undergarments
This might be a no brainer to some, but it can be overlooked if this is your first photo session or you just need a reminder (even I have made this mistake before!) Please make sure you (mama) are wearing the correct undergarments underneath your dress or blouse. Remember to wear a nude bra that doesn't show under your top (please wear a comfortable strapless bra if you can see your straps, editing out bra straps can be a headache) and always try to wear nude colored underwear so everything looks seamless!
Plan Ahead! Have Everything Ready to Go In Advance
Try to have everything ready to go in the days leading up to your session, the less stress on session day the better! You can iron/steam everyone's clothing (as needed), lay out the accessories you want to wear, etc. You can also lay out a couple options for what baby could wear if you'd like your photographer to help you choose. For baby this includes laying out any swaddles, clothing options and any accessories/family heirlooms you might want to use during the session.
Don't forget to accessorize! Accessories are always welcome, just keep it simple! Simple jewelry that has meaning to you and that doesn't distract can be great. Try not to wear distracting Apple watches or ponytail holders/colorful bracelets on your wrists if possible on session day. For mamas, if you have a noticeable Apple watch tan you can try accessorizing with a stack of pretty bracelets. Although regular watches for dad are fine if they are neutral.
Baby can accessorize too! Little bows/headbands for baby girls are always precious, bonnets (for girls or boys), or hats for baby boys. (Boys can accessorize too, don't let anyone tell you otherwise!) Also a little PSA, for dads, please make sure to remove your keys and phone from your pockets before the session.
Shoes (or Should I Say, Lack there of)
As for shoes, I highly recommend ditching the shoes (and socks) on photo session day. Bare feet look best to me in a lifestyle setting (either in your home or in my studio). It just looks more relaxed and casual like a normal day at home.
For babies (newborn and up) I also recommend bare feet so we can capture those precious tiny toes that won't be little for long! Shoes can also be clunky and just not necessary unless you wish to document special family heirloom baby booties or something of that nature.
That's it! I hope this is helpful to all of you planning a newborn session or if you are hoping to plan one in the future. Looking for more visual inspiration for what to wear to your session? Click here to go to my lifestyle Pinterest boards! I also have a Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter What to Wear inspiration board with more gorgeous ideas and color palettes, perfect for an outdoor family or milestone session. Need any help? Be sure to let me know!