What are the most important factors to be aware of when photographing newborn babies?
Firstly, parent’s consent. I will explain to you exactly, how I am going to proceed and explain my workflow thoroughly. If you are a parent with no prior studio visits/experience you may not fully understand the session.
I understand the importance of maintaining a proper feeding routine. Your baby must be allowed to feed as often as necessary. If they need to feed every 10 minutes or once per hour, this is completely normal, and I will never attempt to comment.
Common indicators of a baby requiring imminent feeding, is sucking anything near their mouth, a repetitive cry, becoming agitated and ‘fussy’. This is a clear sign that milk is required forthwith!
A newborn child’s body and systems are so underdeveloped that serious issues can go unnoticed by a non-medically trained person. The temperature of the child and the temperature of the room are extremely important to ensure the infant remains at a temperature within normal ranges.
I check baby regularly by feeling extremities and looking for any skin colour changes.
Body position is also of life-threatening importance. A baby’s windpipe can collapse if a baby’s head is extended either too far forward, or too far backward. Proper positioning, ensuring the head and neck are aligned are paramount. An infant’s spine at birth is a ‘C’ shape and this should be maintained at all times. Incorrect positioning of the baby’s spine could create abnormalities or injury based on incorrect posing.
Only safe wrapping techniques are used to ensure it is never too tight to restrict breathing or risk of asphyxiation. Limb placement beneath the wrap is also vital to ensure joints and limbs are in a natural position and easily accessible for changing of hand/feet positioning.
How would we address any of these issues if they did arise?
The main point here, I believe is common sense. If a child appears unwell, I would suggest the parents seek advice or take the baby to a doctor. If the room becomes too hot, I will check the baby’s temperature and remove layers. If the room is cool, warm it up and add more layers to the baby. If a baby begins to ‘grunt’, remove any wraps or clothing immediately and assess if it is due to a tight wrap or if the baby may have an airway obstruction or restriction of breathing. It is difficult to say exactly what I would do as there are so many variants and so many possibilities.
I would always act in the very best interests of the baby and the parents. They are my number 1 priority.
How Helen gets the studio ready for you!
What do I have in place should baby not settle?
If after 2-3 hours, I have less than half of the images I need for a full gallery, a top-up session will be offered at no additional charge.
I have a plethora of settling techniques I use to settle a baby. All have been deemed safe at the time of writing.
Firstly, the go-to obvious reasons for crying will have been exhausted. E.g., Clean nappy, hangry (yes I mean hangry), check for wind, etc before bringing in the heavy artillery.
My go-to device is the PNeo Baby Shusher. A small, orange and white device that mimics the shhh shhh shhh noise of a human for either 15 or 30 minutes.
It is worth its weight in gold.
Placed next to the ear of a crying baby, it is designed to be louder than the baby’s cry and can ‘snap’ them out of a crying episode.
I use heaters to keep the baby warm – this really helps to calm and settle. Basic swaddling will often calm an unsettled infant stroke the ‘T’ zone of the forehead and nose in a smooth motion, which often encourages eye closing. Covering a baby’s eyes with a muslin square or a dark fabric can also aid sleep/settling.
A gentle rocking motion often helps to settle – never a shake as was demonstrated by a USA-based photographer that caused an uproar!
Details of our first aid training.
Completed in May 2021 with Mid County Safety –
· The roles and responsibilities of a paediatric first aider· Assessing an emergency situation· Dealing with an unresponsive infant or child· Recovery position· CPR· Choking· Head and spinal injuries· Fractures, dislocations, and sprains· Anaphylaxis and allergic reactions· Meningitis· Asthma· Seizures· Diabetic emer
Prior to attempting a new pose on a real infant, I would update my risk assessment to include a ‘mock’ posing session on our posing practice doll.
Here is a pose that we do with the safety precautions we take.
Baby in a bed - as above.
Firstly, I will ask you if this is a pose/prop you are comfortable with. Providing you say yes, I then proceed. The prop is checked for sharp edges, loose nails, or fixings prior to your arrival. I will explain the workflow of the session thoroughly to you and tell you if at any point during the session, you feel uneasy or concerned, please tell me immediately.
A bed mattress and cushions are placed to pose/position your child safely and comfortably on the bed. Freshly laundered fabrics are often draped to dress the set.
Any furs, fabrics, or accessories are deemed safe to use, have been examined/checked for imperfections or potential dangers, and are never left unattended with the child.
Backdrop stands and lighting stands are anchored with sandbags. The backdrop is clipped with large clips to secure and ensure it will not fall near to the child.
The camera is anchored to an over-the-shoulder harness with a carabiner clip attached to the bottom of the camera. For floor-based shots, the camera is tripod mounted. Care is always taken to ensure the camera does not swing near to the baby if leaning forward.
The temperature of the room is checked via a battery-operated room thermometer and altered if necessary by using an electric fan heater to heat or a fan to cool the room – Both are PAT tested annually and risk assessed.
The child is either dressed in an appropriate and safety checked outfit or wrapped in a potato sack or traditional ‘feet out’ wrap. Wrapping safety is adhered to – ensuring it is not too tight and is keeping limbs and head/neck in a natural position. If a hat is used, any ties/tassels are kept loose and never tied tightly.
We have taken these steps as industry professionals. We hope you will see the lengths we go to, in order to maintain the highest levels of safety possible for you and your family.