Whether you want to post photos to your social media, make a photo book, or are old school and enjoy sending out birth announcements, capturing those newborn photos of your baby in the first 24 hours of their life is crucial. I promise you’ll forget how tiny those hands and toes were after a while — especially when they’re demanding their fifteenth snack in an hour when they’re preschool-aged. It’s guaranteed you’ll want to look back at these photos and remember how you felt, how your partner and the grandparents felt, and how your baby looked to warm your heart — and probably shed a few tears.
Birth photography is gaining popularity, with some hospitals offering in-house photographers to be by your side on the big day (for a fee, of course). Other folks are hiring their own newborn photographers and even birth photographers to capture every moment and sometimes every gory detail, depending on your comfort levels and what you want to share and see. Whether you have a hospital birth, a birthing center birth, or a home birth, having a birth photographer or a newborn photographer is incredibly special to have on the day you give birth to your baby.
Two photographers shared their tips for how to take the best newborn photos and 15 photos to capture during baby’s first 24 hours of life. Some are obvious, but others are pretty outside the box, making memories that last a lifetime. We may forget the pain of childbirth, but we will never forget how we felt holding our babies the first time, seeing our partner holding the baby for the first time, and the grandparents holding the baby, especially if they’re captured in photos.
All imagery in this article is by Alexandria Mooney Photography.
15 Newborn Photos to Capture During Baby’s First 24 Hours
Mom and Partner’s Reaction to Seeing the Baby for the First Time
This is the look of complete joy, elation, love, and sometimes shock and a bit of fear. This photo is priceless. I wish my husband and I had a photo of our faces right when our son came out. The family portrait the OBGYN took of us was pretty great, though.
Mom and Baby
Obviously, this photo is absolutely crucial. You’ve grown this entire baby for nine months. You did the work to get them out safely. Now, you’re officially a mom. You’ll want to remember every detail of this moment. “These first moments are fleeting, and you truly can never take too many photos to capture that,” says photographer Alexandria Mooney.
Partner/Spouse/Dad and baby
I am obsessed with the photos I took of my husband holding our son for the very first time. He was so proud, scared, and excited. I have never seen him make that beautiful face about anything else ever again. I’m glad I got the photo to look back on forever.
Wrinkly Baby Toes
Man, I miss my son’s wrinkly tiny baby feet and his tiny toes. He now has a preschooler-sized foot, and I am so glad I have photos of his sweet, non-stinky baby feet to look back on when I’m in my feels.
Baby’s First Time Being Swaddled
This photo is so sweet. It could also be used as a learning tool when you’re trying to figure out how the heck to wrap them like a burrito in that little blanket with pink and blue footprints. But really, nothing is sweeter and cuter than a baby burrito.
The Clock in the Room at the Time of Birth
This is a neat photo that not many people think to take, and it’s surreal to see that this was the exact moment your child took their first breath and was earthside. And if you’re into astrology, the time could be very important to read their birth chart one day.
The Umbilical Cord Being Cut
This one is for the dads/partners/spouses who wanted to be involved in the birth of their child since they couldn’t push. They usually opt to cut the cord so they can be a part of the process. This picture of them being involved will be priceless.
Shot of Belly with Clamped Umbilical Cord
This is a neat newborn photo to take for those who don’t get squeamish. That cord was the lifeline between you and your baby, where you provided nutrients for them to grow and thrive.
Baby’s Weight and Being Weighed
Not only is this a super sweet picture (and it will be fun to look back on when your baby reaches 50 pounds as a kindergartener), but the information is good to have handy for that first pediatrician visit.
Matching Hospital Bands on Wrists (if at a Hospital)
If you’re giving birth at a hospital, have all three of you — your partner, your baby, and yourself — put your wrists together with the matching hospital bands.
Baby and Mom’s Parents
It’s a special moment for grandparents to hold their grandchild for the first time. I’m sure it will bring back memories of when you were a baby. They’ll be beaming and potentially crying tears of joy in the photo. This makes for great memories to look back on.
Baby and Partner’s Parents
Again, grandparents beaming and holding the baby for the first time is the best picture. I can guarantee everyone will shed a few tears.
Baby and Aunts and Uncles
Aunts and uncles are always stoked when a new baby arrives. They get to love on them, spoil them, and give them back when they poop. This is a photo that not only you and your immediate family will cherish but the uncles, aunts, and grandparents too.
Baby with Siblings
This has the potential to be the cutest photo ever. Kids will be so excited to meet their new sibling; their reactions and facial expressions will be priceless. They’ll love to look back on this when they’re all older (unless you’re like my husband and his brother). When his brother was born, my husband was four years old, and he asked his dad if they could take him back and return him to the store.
Baby’s First Bath
Even if they cry, you’ll want to remember this moment. It’s kind of the defining moment of them being ready to leave the hospital. Plus, they’re no longer covered in your fluids.
Tips for Capturing Baby’s First 24 Hours Yourself
Mooney says her best advice for someone taking their newborn photos without a photographer is to have good lighting — natural lighting is best.
“If that’s not ideal/possible, turn on the lights! I don’t recommend using flash-on cell phone cameras as they just aren’t great and don’t give the same look as using natural (or artificial) light,” she says.
Don’t Focus on Perfection
She adds that the beauty of photography is that it’s digital. We have cameras in our pockets now, thanks to our phones. So, you should snap away. “Don’t try and wait for the perfect shot — just keep clicking the shutter, and I promise you’ll get a good shot in there,” she says.
Regarding camera angles, she says to never shoot looking up the nose/from below. “This rarely is an angle that works for anyone! I always try to shoot down or from above — it really is the best angle for everyone, especially for someone who has just given birth!” she says.
Use Your Surroundings
Newborn photographer Jane Goodrich, founder of Piscello, a company to help photographers start their own business, created a “cheat sheet” of newborn photography tips for new moms having a baby. She did this at the height of the pandemic since the number of people they could have present for the birth was limited. If you’re giving birth in a hospital, Goodrich says to use those white sheets and big windows to your advantage because “they make for dreamy photos.” She also suggests using the bed pillows underneath the sheet to make a gap for the baby to be safely placed for a photo opportunity.
Direction of Light
Goodrich adds that where the light is coming from is very important. “Make sure the light is coming from above the subject’s head. If the overhead lights are causing bad shadows, be sure to turn them off if you can,” she says.
“Make use of the focus tool (the yellow box that appears on your phone screen when taking a picture,” Goodrich says. “When you have your shot ready, click on the yellow box to place the focus on your newborn, and you will get a more focused, clearer image,” she says.
“Don’t use filters, and don’t use portrait mode on your phone,” Goodrich says, “It could make everything look pretty fake.”
If you had a home birth, Goodrich says baby photos in their crib make for some incredible newborn photos. “The different angles you can use are great – you also can get a sense of their size – they won’t be that little for long!” she says.
Whether you hire a newborn/birth photographer or you and your partner act as your own photographer, capturing photos during your baby’s first 24 hours is a must. You’ll be so glad you did. And Goodrich is right. They won’t be that little for long.
All imagery in this article is by Alexandria Mooney Photography.