2024 Guide: What To Wear For A Newborn Session

Not sure what to wear for your newborn photos? I’m here to help!

It can feel like an overwhelming task. You probably aren’t sleeping well, laundry is piling up, your shape has and is changing in drastic ways. Not only do you not have time to shop, you don’t want to. You thought you had the perfect outfit for the baby, then they spit up on everything in sight.

Don’t panic.

There isn’t a “one size fits all” answer to “what to wear for a newborn session”. It depends on the colors in your home, your family’s style, as well as how much you want to coordinate – both with each other as well as the colors in your home and/or nursery. I don’t have strong feelings in either direction, and it really is up to each family to decide where they want to go with their clothing choices.

That said, after being a newborn photographer for several years now, there are some suggestions I’d like to pass along!

Choosing Colors

One of the big advantages when choosing colors for your in-home newborn session? You know exactly what your surroundings look like!

Which room(s) would you like to take photos in?

First thing to consider: what rooms in your house would you like to use for photos? Are you planning on nursery? Master bedroom? Living room?

I use a combination of natural and artificial light in my newborn sessions, so no room is too dark or off limits. Do you love the colors of your bed comforter and headboard? Have you spent hours getting the nursery exactly how you want it? Did you pick the color of your couch for a particular reason?

Start with the room or rooms that you would like to use for photos, and coordinate your outfit colors based on those rooms.

Wait – but you want photos in your blue master bedroom AND your purple nursery! What now??

Stick with neutrals when possible

Neutral (think beige, cream, white, gray, brown) or muted/pastels tend to photograph best during newborn sessions. They’re also relatively easy to incorporate into multiple rooms during your session, if you choose to do so. They tend to be timeless colors, and are usually the most flattering option for skin (both yours and your baby’s!).

Let the furniture in the room or the color of the walls be the pop of color in your newborn photos, rather than the clothes you’re wearing.

What To Wear For Baby

Babies come in all shapes and sizes, so it can be really hard to find clothes that fit well in those first few weeks! I strongly recommend putting your newborn in a well-fitting, solid colored onesie (long or short sleeved). Small patterns and stripes are okay, but avoid words or large graphics when possible.

If you’re wanting photos of those tiny feet and hands (squee!), make sure to choose outfits that don’t cover them up.

You’re also welcome to put your baby in just a diaper, and loosely wrap them in a blanket or swaddle.

I do have families that choose more complicated outfits, and they’re beautiful! But remember – we’ll need to do more adjusting of straps, ruffles, and diapers. We will also need to strip the baby down for any swaddled photos, which can quickly take a settled baby to an unhappy one!

I would avoid headbands, bows, and hats, if possible. They tend to leave marks on heads, and seem to annoy most babies. If you do want to use one for your session, I would suggest putting it on your baby for a test run for at least 30 minutes/day for 2-3 days prior to see how they tolerate it.

What to Wear for Moms

I’m all about comfy maternity jeans or leggings and an oversized top with a nursing tank underneath.

I don’t typically photograph you below your waist unless you’re sitting, so don’t spend much time thinking about what you’re wearing on your lower half. There’s a good chance you’ll need to take a break to nurse/feed the baby, so you’ll want something you can stand and sit in without too many wrinkles.

That first few weeks is exhausting. It’s going to feel like you’re changing shape with every passing day, and at least for me post-C section, my belly took a lot longer than I expected to go back down (the joys of surgery!). Find something stretchy that can adjust to bloating and is comfortable when you sit down.

If you’re looking to treat yourself, find neutral colored leggings, then splurge on a comfy oversized top that you can wear for the next few months. Layer that over a maternity or nursing tank, and you’re good to go!

What to Wear for Men

Just like mom , be comfortable! Although I know for dads, that can be anywhere from a t-shirt to a polo to a button down shirt. As long as it doesn’t wrinkle easily, and you can move around in it, go for it!

Avoid logos, when possible. If the only nice shirt in your closet is your company polo, I would suggest going to Target and finding a neutral colored t-shirt in your size.

Try not to overdress! It’s a really exciting event to be photographed for the first time with your new baby, but newborn sessions…take awhile. If you’ve layered a 3/4 zip sweater over a long-sleeved shirt, you may find yourself getting really hot.

Sibling Outfits

Simple and comfortable!! I can’t stress this enough. It’s going to be hard enough to get everyone focused for this session, so you aren’t going to want another child with accessories that need adjusted or shoes that need put on.

Sibling photos with toddlers are…a challenge. We may only have one shot, and it may be a few seconds. Try to avoid outfits that will need tweaks and adjustments to look right.

Outfits that seem like “everyday” outfits are less likely to cause them to be rejected by the under 5 crowd. If you pull out a frilly dress, they may realize they have some power in this situation and will choose this moment
to have a very strong opinion. Don’t start your day with a fight!

Don’t worry about shoes!

Unless you’ve requested a photo that involves your feet (or your slippers coordinate with your baby’s eyes like in the photo below), I won’t be photographing your feet in shoes. If we need to have feet in photos for a “everyone piled on the bed” photo, I’ll have everyone go bare foot. Don’t panic about the state of your feet either! They’ll be out of focus or tucked under a kid, I promise.

Otherwise: socks, bare feet, slippers, or house shoes – whatever you feel comfortable in is the best choice for your feet!

Dad holding newborn on lap.

Be Comfortable!!

Choose an outfit you’re comfortable in! Even with the most cooperative baby, it does take up to an hour or two to get through a newborn session. Rock those maternity jeans/leggings, and a comfortable top, or find a flowy dress you can move in (avoid anything that wants to accentuate your belly, as maternity dresses have a tendency to do). I would also avoid too many layers, as they might add bulk. Exception: maternity tank with sweater/top. When I had my first baby, I didn’t realize that I would still look pregnant for a bit, and I found it much more comfortable to stick with leggings and oversized sweaters.

Can you bend over/sit down/hold a baby without too many adjustments? This goes for dads and siblings too! It can be a challenge to get everyone in the right position for a family photo, and it’s helpful if we can avoid having to adjust big sister’s tights/hairbow or big brother’s suspenders/tie his shoes.

You can find more information about my newborn sessions at this link.

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