A newborn baby lies on a textured blue blanket, wearing a knitted blue hat with tiny bear ears. The baby is smiling with eyes closed and hands resting under their chin, looking peaceful and content—a perfect moment captured in early newborn photography. Image by Denver Newborn Photographer Christina Dooley Photography.

Ever wonder why newborn photos are done so early?

Newborn photos are best done in the first three weeks after the baby is born. Why you ask? This is because babies are born with melatonin that has been passed onto them from their mother, but it diminishes around week three. Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate sleep, and it’s what makes newborns sleep so soundly. Getting a baby in for a photo session while they still have high levels of melatonin means they’re more likely to sleep soundly during the photo session, which results in better photos. So if you’re thinking about getting newborn photos taken, be sure to schedule them within the first three weeks after your baby is born, and even better book a newborn photographer before your baby has arrived, one less thing you have to think about.

Newborn Sleep Habits Explained:

Newborn babies sleep a lot, 16-18 hours a day. But their sleep is very different from ours. They only have two stages of sleep REM, Rapid Eye Movement also referred to as active sleep, and NREM, non-Rapid Eye Movement.

During REM sleep, newborns can have their eyes open and may look like they are awake, eyes move around while closed, limbs and fingers can twitch or jerk, breathing may speed up and mouths might move around making all sorts of expressions, this is also when they may smile, and may also cry out, but their brains are very active. Newborns spend more time in active sleep than adults do and can be easily awakened in this stage of sleep. So don’t move them around to much in this stage if you are trying to keep them asleep.

NREM, non-Rapid Eye Movement is when a baby is in quiet sleep is very still and does not make any movements, and has regular breathing patterns.

Babies spend 50-60% of their sleep in REM sleep and the other in NREM. This is partly because they do not produce melatonin on their own until around 3 months of age which helps regulate their circadian rhythms, the body’s internal clock. As they get older they will spend less and less time in REM sleep. If nursing babies will receive a small amount of melatonin from mom during the day and at night when mom produces more melatonin baby will also receive more.

By three months of age when babies are starting to produce their own melatonin they will begin to fall into some kind of sleep pattern with more sleep happening at night instead of the day. There will be a light at the end of the tunnel.

As you read the above you can tell Newborns grow and change so quickly! It’s amazing how much they can change in just a few short weeks. That’s why it’s never too early to book your newborn photo session. The best time to photograph a newborn is between 5-21 days old, when they are still sleepy and curly. I recommend booking your session when you are still pregnant, so we can reserve a spot for you on my calendar. Newborn sessions are a special time to capture all the details of your baby’s tiny fingers and toes, their soft skin and downy hair. Contact me today to book your session!

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