Let’s talk about that 10 days rule for newborn photography

Ottawa Family Photographer | Capturing Pregnancy through Baby’s First Year & Beyond

Before we dive into debunking the 10 days rule for newborn photography, I want to tell you the back story of why I am writing this post today…

Momma’s little baby

Newborn babies are one of the most precious things on the planet. They grow into children, and adults, and yet still remain just as close to our hearts as mom and dad. Why is that? Because of love; mom and dad created that human and watched them grow from an itty bitty speck on an ultrasound, into the adult they are today. I am sure if you asked mom to see a picture of her baby, she would show you her most favourite one. It could be the most recent, it could be the one where little Suzie is wearing the dress grandma handmade for her, or it could be the first one ever..

Baby’s First Photo

If I asked my mom for that first baby photo, it would be when we were still in the hospital. It was a really small, grungy, unflattering image of the both of us and my dad, but nobody cares. That’s our first photo together and I love it! For my parent’s sake, here’s another taken once they got home.

first family photo stephanie de montigny newborn home
cell snapshot: image circa 1990

If I changed the wording around and asked for the first professional photo of us that she got framed, she would not be able to point to it, because it’s stashed away somewhere in a box. Well, I made a point to go through the maze of boxes and I found it. A gorgeous framed print from Olan Mills.

first family photo stephanie de montigny child professional
cell snapshot: (c) Olan Mills circa 1993-1994 (?)

Well, turns out it’s only a puny little 8×10. We don’t have ANY family portraits displayed, and yet when I asked my mother if I could keep it, she freaked out and refused because it was HERS. So, my mom DOES care about photos, she’s just the type of person who loves to keep images in photo boxes or albums instead of on the wall for all to see. I then discovered the giant 20×24 framed canvas print (from another session with Olan Mills) of me stored in the basement, which has me at about 2/3 years old. That’s even bigger than my high-school graduation photo (which I also found and hung up for them with my younger brother’s!) yet was stashed between two storage cupboards instead of on the wall. Turns out my mom didn’t get the chance to travel to a studio while I was a newborn, and simply thought she skipped the window of opportunity to get baby pictures altogether. I had missed out on nice frameable photos of myself as a newborn baby because of a preconception about age. Sure I have a ton of polaroids and developed (or not) films to turn to in my photo album ahem.. my mom’s photo album that I absolutely love and treasure, but I would not want to print any of those larger than the 3×5 or 4×6 or 5×7 they already are because they are not exactly wall-worthy.

family photos stephanie de montigny before sibling
cell snaps of various photos: circa 1990-1994 (before the sibling)

That being said, I am still saddened by the fact that I don’t have any good quality, wall-worthy newborn photos or even baby portraits of myself.  Whether your baby’s first photo is during a fresh 48 session, a studio newborn portrait, or baby milestone photo later on in their first year, you just have to get it done. For you and for your child. They will eventually grow into an adult who will love and cherish those professionally capture images forever, especially the ones with YOU in them! Let’s be honest, the images are for future-you and future-baby just as much, if not more, than for now-you.

Now, let’s talk about that 10 days rule for newborn photography

This is specifically discussed when referring to POSED newborn photography; the kind that has baby all nice and curled up into adorably intricate poses in props or on beautiful backdrops. It’s been widely published that newborns should be photographed at under 14 days/2 weeks, and as strictly as “less than 10 days or it’s not possible”. Hold it! What!? “Or it’s not possible” !? Who came up with that bull****!?

This topic came up when I received a phone call (yet again!) from a woman frantically begging for me to open up a same-day spot for her little one because she was already 13 days old and she didn’t think she wanted those adorable images until now, and it’s almost too late. Fair enough, but what got me the most was that OTHER PHOTOGRAPHERS TURNED HER DOWN! She was almost in tears when I informed her that unfortunately, I was unable to accommodate her request as I was completely booked until 4 days later. So much so, that she barely heard me explaining that there was nothing wrong with waiting until then and I would be happy to fit her in (at day 18). It took all the strength I had not to ask her who the hell had refused to photograph her baby. I was almost as sad as she was, but more angry than anything. Sheesh!

I’ve since gone through all my website’s wording to make sure that the words typically and/or recommended were prominent when stating the time-frame, and that it was evident that I would NEVER refuse a baby because they were “too old”. I absolutely LOVE to photograph newborns, and who cares if I have to put in extra effort to get amazing baby photos for parents! It’s my job, and I love it!

Here are the answers to the two most common questions:

why 10 days?

Why has it become a “rule” instead of a recommendation that newborn photography HAVE TO be captured within such a small time frame? Well, to start, newborn babies are born with nearly 300 ‘bones’, while a full-grown adult has a measly 206. Why is this relevant you ask? A newborn really has nearly 300 bones & cartilage pieces, which after that 10-14days (2 weeks) mark, start to fuse together into calcified bone, which makes it much harder for them to return to that in-the-womb position they’ve been in for the last 9 months. It is much more comfortable for them to be molded into the adorable position while they still have the luxury of pure flexibility. That being said, every baby is different, and it depends on their individual growth speed rather than a widely spread “rule” whether or not they are safely able to participate in a true newborn session. I personally recommend scheduling the session after 3-5 days, especially for breastfeeding moms, in order to make sure baby has somewhat of a feeding schedule and has learned to latch correctly in order to get enough milk. Of course, I prefer to schedule before that 10-day mark to make my “job” a little easier, but it’s not something I strictly enforce. In fact, I have a slight bias towards older babies who come in full of newborn chub.

is there really a difference? do you have examples?

Yes, there is a HUGE difference between 2 days new, 2 weeks new, and 2 months new. BUT it may not always be what you think; it simply means that the images are different. But isn’t that the case with all babies anyway? Here are a few examples of past sessions (captions have the details about their session).

This post and the following images were created almost a decade ago. A more recent post with specific timeline examples has been added to the blog: The Best Time To Book A Newborn Photography Session

23 days new – this little guy actually came to the studio twice! when he was 15 days, he wanted nothing to do with it and just wanted to be held (can you blame him?), so we scheduled a second session and he was a dream baby at 3 weeks.
10 days new – slept like a champ and was able to complete all poses attempted for a full gallery of choices
newborn baby face eyes lips plum knit wrap
16 days new – slept for about 20 minutes in total during her petite newborn session (1hr) which allowed me to capture a handful great images of the one allotted pose/backdrop to fill the gallery
9 days new – slept very little, fed a lot, and was only able to complete two poses/backdrops
newborn photography baby grey blanket sleeping
42 days new – half of a set of twins (born almost 2 months early, session held ON expected due date) slept for 5-10 minutes the entire session but was content the entire time, which allowed for capturing enough single images of him and twin images with his sister for a full gallery.
6 days new – slept through the entire session and we captured all sorts of poses, backdrops and family images

How about these gorgeous swaddled shots of these babies who just wouldn’t sleep until they were snuggled tightly in the warmth of the wraps. It’s all about finding what works for the baby currently in the studio. We even got a little smile once baby was happy 🙂

hunter newborn photo session 117
7 days new – didn’t sleep much and was very unsettled; swaddling helped keep him happy long enough for him to doze off so we could get some sweet sleeping images
19 days new – only slept once wrapped and swaddled
7 weeks new, Athena-Newborn-Photography-Session-Ottawa-Baby-Photographer-grey-knit-backdrop-dolly-priss-cheesecloth-wrap-side-profile-crop
7 weeks new – slept almost the entire session in between feedings, but wasn’t as flexible so we proceeded with alternate newborn-esque poses
7 days new – took us about an hour of feeding & soothing until he was fully sleeping and we were able to safely capture the outdoor beach setup for this little guy’s gallery

Each of these scenarios are completely different, and yet look at the nice sleepy newborn photos. Content wide-eyed babies can make for some seriously adorable images too!

open eyes
24 days new – slept just enough for one sleeping and curly setup, and was content for us to capture various expressions on another
9 days new – only slept long enough for one setup and pose, so we proceeded with awake images then some adorable mommy&me images

All of these are adorable and perfect newborn images! Between you and me, I absolutely LOVE the extra chub that comes along with an older newborn. And who says you can’t have adorable and awake newborn photos? Sometimes you get the cutest expressions!

And for this 6 WEEK old baby, we focused on capturing his gorgeous bright-eyed expressions because he was unable to comfortably achieve any of the curly poses because he wasn’t really a newborn anymore. We made sure to showcase his personality instead of forcing him into uncomfortable (at his age) positions, and in turn we achieved a fabulous gallery of moments. I mean, check out those gorgeous big blues! Typically when a mother contacts us with a 6 weeker that was not a preemie, we recommend scheduling their appointment when baby will be approximately 3 months so that they are able to safely hold up their heads on their own in order to create a variety of poses for their gallery. Other older babies (6-12 week babies) that have come to the studio were able to safely be posed in props, others were only able to achieve one pose so we create variety with backdrops and accessories.

6 weeks new – we were able to capture various wrapped and non-swaddled wide-eyed images on the beanbag

All things aside, it takes a great photographer to be able to beautifully photograph newborns and babies. It takes an even greater talented (and patient!) photographer to capture fussy babies, no matter the age. You can end up with a fussy “prime-time” baby and a perfect sleeper baby who would may otherwise be referred to as being “too old”. Babies are never too old to be photographed. Of course posing and expectations may change, but regardless of the age, mom and dad will receive gorgeous images from their session with any GOOD professional photographer. They may not be the elaborately posed setups, but they will capture beautiful portraits their baby and give the family images to cherish forever.

Age is just a number. While I will personally photograph a baby at almost any age, I still do recommend you book as soon as possible to make sure you have the option of the sweet and curly newborn portraits. My recommendation is between days 5-10 so that we can capture a variety of poses instead of being constrained to a limited type of poses.

I bid you farewell with one more strong suggestion; that mom should be included in these images no matter what the circumstance of how she thinks she sees herself. You will always be a gorgeous momma to your baby. Heck, we’ve got hair&makeup artists on standby if you need a confidence boost! And let’s not forget about dads too!


7 days new – this little guy slept most of his session once we got him wrapped and comfy, but I managed to score some amazing eye contact beforehand.

How do I book a session?

We’d love to capture your growing family and new baby moments. You can call us at 613-371-4594 or use our contact page to set up your free consultation to chat details. Maternity Portraits are the most flatteringly captured between weeks 26-36, Newborn Photography Sessions are best held within the first 2 weeks from birth, and Mommy&Baby portrait sessions are typically within the first month after baby is born.

Pure Natural Portraits
Capturing Pregnancy through Baby’s First Year & Beyond
(Almonte) Ottawa, Ontario  |  (613) 371 – 4594

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