Welcoming a new baby into the world is momentous occasion. Amidst the flurry of emotions and the whirlwind of activities, it’s essential to capture these precious first moments to look back on later. With both of my children, I tried to take (and have my husband take) lots of hospital newborn photos – even though the setting might not be the nicest, those first couple of days with your tiny newborn are unique to capture.
There is a genre of newborn photography called “Fresh 48” – typically conducted within the first 48 hours of a baby’s life, this is a beautiful way to document the raw and real beauty of those first few hours. Whilst professional photographers do offer these sessions, you might also like to take your own DIY images. Personally for me, I wanted to maintain a sense of intimate family time and capture these moments myself of my own family.
In this guide, I am sharing some practical tips on what photos to take, how to set them up, and why they matter and hope you find these useful for capturing your own as well.
What to pack for DIY hospital newborn photos
Let’s start with what you might like to pack even before you get to the hospital. I have a great blog here which shares a packing list for mother and baby in general, but here I’ll share the specifics to take some lovely DIY hospital newborn photos.
- A pretty but simple outfit for yourself: personally I think a lovely nightie or a pretty robe works best for this. There’s no need (or want?!) to get dressed up, but it’s much nicer and more comfy to pick something that fits the setting. My go to brand is The White Company
- Likewise for the baby: a simple white babygrow is perfect. Maybe you’d like to take a second one without the little feet so you can take close up’s of baby’s tiny toes.
- A blanket. Something with a little texture looks lovely in photos
- The obvious one: your phone (with charger) or your camera
How to prepare and set up the room for your hospital newborn photos
You will want to ensure you have decent light as this will be the most important factor affecting your hospital photos (or any others!). Here are a few things to look out for:
- Switch off any overhead lights: these always cast yellow shadows and only provide very unflattering light. If possible, only use daylight coming in from the windows
- Open all the blinds on your windows: for the reason above, you’ll want to let in as much natural light as possible. In terms of timing, you will want as much indirect light as possible which will usually be around late morning. Natural light is softer and more flattering than harsh hospital lighting. Try to position your baby’s cot near a window when taking photos.
- Ensure the room is relatively tidy: just clear away any clutter around your bed and the windows to ensure nothing is distracting in your images
How to set up your phone or camera
To get the best possible hospital newborn photos, it’s important to adjust your camera settings accordingly. As you will want to work with natural light, I recommend you turn off any flash.
If you are finding the images are a little blurry, this might be because you don’t have enough light in which case try to move closer to the window. If you are working with a digital camera, adjust shutter speed to be faster (1/125 or 1/250) or turn up ISO slightly.
If you have an iPhone, you might want to use Portrait mode at the bottom of the screen, where you can also adjust the lighting mode. After taking your hospital newborn photos, you can edit the f/stop by taping edit and adjusting the f number at the top left of the screen. This will give your photos more or less of a background blur (more background blur might work better for hospital backgrounds!).
Another useful iPhone feature is the focus lock. Tap and hold the screen for a couple of seconds until you see AE/AF lock in yellow with a square and the little sun. This means that focus point will now remain locked, even after taking a photo.
Best hospital newborn photos to take: fresh 48 photo ideas
You might like to check out Pinterest for a little inspiration on these fresh 48 photos to take, but don’t stress over whether your photos look the same or not! The most important part is capturing some memories with your tiny newborn – I promise you’ll love these images regardless of whether they’re Pinterest-worthy or not 😉
- Photo of your baby in their hospital bassinet
- Move around the bassinet for different angles, also using the blanket for some variations
- Get some close up shots of those tiny toes and fingers. You may want to hold their feet and hands with one hand, or ask your partner to do so
- You holding your baby whilst sitting on the bed, perhaps with them lying on your chest
- You holding your baby standing close to the window
- Your partner doing the same
- Include any older siblings, how they look at their new brother or sister
- Ask one of your midwives to take a quick photo of the whole family
- Also ask them to take a photo as you leave all together with baby in their car seat
Final tips for successful DIY hospital newborn photos
- Keep it natural: The beauty of a Fresh 48 session is in its raw and real depiction of your newborn’s first hours. Don’t worry too much about posing your baby or using props. Just capture the moments as they happen naturally.
- Take Candid Shots: Candid shots of your baby yawning, stretching, or making cute facial expressions can be some of the most endearing images.
- Include all your loved ones: have some images with you and baby, with your partner, any siblings and maybe even your midwife or ob/gyn – after all, they helped you bring your little baby into this world
You’ll find in the years to come, these photos will mean so much to you. The first few days of a baby’s life are fleeting, and babies grow and change so rapidly that within a few weeks, they’ll look significantly different. Capturing these early moments allows you to remember just how tiny and new they once were.
The early days can be so challenging and there will be a rush of emotions. It often makes remembering those days harder and you’ll be so pleased to have captured them in photographs. You’ll also start building a narrative of this new chapter in your family’s story that you won’t want to miss.
Don’t stress about capturing the perfect shot. Instead, focus on documenting the genuine, candid moments. These unfiltered, real-life images will become invaluable keepsakes that your family will cherish for years to come.
When you are home from hospital, you might want to consider booking some professional newborn photos. You might enjoy this article about 6 Questions to ask your London Newborn Photographer and Why I love Newborn Photography at Home: The Ultimate Guide.
I am baby and newborn photographer based in Chelsea, London. Specialising in lifestyle maternity, baby & toddler, and family photography, I cover Central and West London, such as Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fulham, Wandsworth, Battersea, Clapham, Richmond, Westminster, Mayfair and Notting Hill. Please do still get in touch if you live outside of these areas but would be interested in a family photoshoot together. Not quite ready to book? Follow me on Instagram and let’s stay in touch.
Over the last few months, I’ve been featuring work from photographers all over the world. This week, I’d like to share a great resource by US based photographer Courtney who writes about where to buy maternity dresses online that photograph well in this post on maternity photoshoot dress online.