Why Do Babies Need To Be Asleep For Newborn Photography?

why do babies need to be asleep for posed newborn photography

If you’re thinking about booking a posed newborn photo shoot you’ve probably noticed that most babies are asleep in most of the photographs you’ve seen.

You might be wondering why this is, and whether it’s possible to have a photo shoot if your baby is awake. 

The reality is that during the early weeks most babies are asleep more than they’re awake (although it doesn’t always feel like that as a sleep deprived new parent!)

In this article I’ll explain why babies are asleep in most of the posed newborn photos that I take, and what we’ll do if your baby is awake during the session.

Related article: What if my baby doesn’t sleep during the newborn photo shoot?

Related article: My baby is really unsettled. Should we postpone the newborn session?

Walton Upon Thames Natural Baby Portraits

Why do babies need to be asleep for posed newborn photography?

In my posed newborn photography portfolio you’ll see that most photographs are of sleeping babies. When a baby is awake and relaxed during their session I’ll take some pictures of them awake too. But the vast majority of the pictures will be of the baby asleep.

There are four reasons for this:


1. Most Newborn Babies Aren’t Relaxed And Awake For Long Periods 

Typically I’ll photograph newborn babies when they’re aged between 5 and 14 days old. At this age most babies spend more time sleeping than awake, and will only be awake for short periods – usually when they’re hungry and ready for a feed.

Every baby is different; during these short awake periods some babies will be happy to be wrapped, posed and photographed and others will only be relaxed when they’re being held or feeding. This means that the time available for awake photographs is very variable depending on each baby’s temperament.   

Natural Baby Photographer Surrey

2. It’s Not Safe To Pose Awake Babies In All Of The Newborn Poses

For at least half of the poses that I usually focus on during a newborn session, it just isn’t safe to pose newborn babies in these positions whilst they’re awake. 

For example, when lying on their tummies babies can push off with their legs which could result in them rolling off the beanbag where I photograph them. 

is two weeks too old for a newborn photo shoot?

3. Awake Newborn Babies Are Wriggly!

Babies of this age also startle easily, and rarely keep their arms and legs still for long periods when they’re awake.

So even for unwrapped poses that would be safe for awake babies it’s unlikely that your baby would stay in position for long enough to take the photographs.

South West London Newborn Photographer

4. We Can Capture A Much Larger Variety Of Images When Your Baby Is Asleep

Once babies are in a nice, deep sleep their bodies are relaxed and they will usually keep their arms and legs still. Their hands and fingers are relaxed, and not tensed into tight fists. 

This means I can quickly and safely capture a large variety of images when your baby is sleeping, settled and relaxed. 

Thames Ditton Newborn Photo Shoot

What if my baby doesn’t sleep during the session?

You might be surprised to hear that although I will take most of the photographs whilst your baby is asleep, I don’t expect them to sleep for the whole session.

In fact, it’s nice if your baby does have a short period of time where they are awake but settled because that means I can take some pictures of them with their eyes open.

Typically a newborn shoot takes between two and four hours, but I spend a small proportion of that time taking photographs. The rest of that time is there to allow time for your baby to be fed, have nappy changes and settle into a sleep. 

During this two to four hour period, it would be very unlikely that your baby wouldn’t sleep at all. Most newborn babies would struggle to stay awake this long, and I create an environment in the studio that encourages sleep using a mixture of white noise, carefully controlling the room temperature and wrapping.

In the very rare event that your baby is very unsettled and just won’t sleep my priority is keeping them comfortable and happy. In this situation I’ll discuss other options with you. Perhaps that’s rescheduling to a different day, or trying a lifestyle approach. Whatever happens my main priority is to capture gorgeous photographs of you and your new baby.

Elmbridge Newborn Photographer Clare Murthy

What’s Next?

Ready to book your newborn session? The ideal time for a session is when your baby is between 5 and 14 days old so it’s best to book before your baby is born. Click on the button below to get in touch.

Related Articles

You may also find these articles helpful:

What if my baby doesn’t sleep during the newborn photo shoot?

My baby is really unsettled. Should we postpone the newborn session?





Clare Murthy

Clare Murthy

I’m a newborn, baby and family photographer working with families from South West London and Surrey. I specialise in timeless, natural photography with no props or unnatural posing. I photograph babies at my studio, and families in beautiful outdoor locations. I'm based on the Surrey / London border, close to Hampton Court.
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