How To Diffuse A Stressful Newborn Session – For Photographers


This post is for my fellow newborn photographers, especially if you are starting out.

Have you ever been a couple hours into a newborn session and baby just won’t settle down no matter what you do?

Your stress level is rising, and you can feel baby’s parents stress levels rising, too?

I’ve been there. Trust me – I think all newborn photographers have been there one time or another! The biggest tip I can give you is – STAY CALM. Seriously. Babies are super sensitive to tension and stress, so make sure you are as calm as you can be. You’ll be surprised at how much this can affect the baby and their parents!

Here are the steps I go through when a newborn session gets stressful.

  1. Take a break. I know we want to just try to push through and get baby settled in order to get those beautiful images. But if baby is not having it, call a time-out. Evaluate the baby – is she fed, clean diaper, good temperature (cold babies are usually very upset), in comfortable clothing or comfortably swaddled? Is anything scratchy or pinching in any way? Make sure you have some white noise playing.
  2. If all of baby’s needs appear to be met and they are still upset, maybe they need a cuddle break. Give baby to mom and let them hear her voice and be close to her for a good ten minutes. I suggest they walk around with baby. Usually this helps baby (and mom) settle. Sometimes they just need to be together for a little snuggle time. Take this opportunity to step away and go wash your hands. It may sound silly, but it helps diffuse nervous energy and re-set mentally! Take some deep breaths and make sure YOU are nice and calm. Remember. baby will pick up on nervous energy in the room.
  3. If this doesn’t help, evaluate baby again. Are they in pain? Maybe gas? If parents have some gas drops, use them. These can be a life saver!! You can even keep some on hand in to bring with you to your sessions.
  4. After all of these steps, it is very rare to have a baby that is still fussy after going through all of this. If they are, don’t let the session stretch on for hours. Call it a day and re-schedule for a few days later. We all have off days – hopefully this is just baby’s off day, and nothing is seriously wrong. This will give everyone an opportunity to start fresh next time.

There you have it! Nothing too difficult or earth-shattering, right? Just some basic suggestions that I follow when that difficult newborn session happens.

baby boy sleeping under white blanket

What other tips do you want to hear? Comment or email me at with questions. I’m happy to share what has worked for me over the years!

  1. Kelly says:

    Do you have any tip to give parents before a inhome newborn session?

    • Sally Whetten says:

      Hi Kelly, Yes I have some tips for an at home session. First, find the room that has the best window light in the mid morning. That is the room you want to use. Second, clear the clutter in that room. Tidy it up so it will look great in your photos. Third, I always like to have things as neutral as possible so baby is not over powered by patterns and colors. Wear some light neutral clothing and have some solid neutral blankets for baby to wrap in and lay on. I hope this helps!

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