As a newborn photographer, safety considerations for newborn photography props is one of the highest priorities when selecting and working with props for your newborn clients.
Keeping newborn babies safe during photo sessions is of utmost importance. Even with the best of intentions, it can be easy to get caught up in the aesthetics when choosing props or simply not know exactly what to pay attention to during shoots. It’s always key that infant babies remain safe at all times. Sometimes you won’t get exactly the shots that you want, which is okay. Safety is always more important. The following safety considerations for newborn photography props will help you select beautiful props that keep your newborn clients safe.
Your newborn photography props should always be soft and comfortable. Choose fabrics that feel great to the touch and won’t have any roughness, including rough edges, that will irritate infant babies’ sensitive skin. If the props themselves aren’t made of fabric or aren’t soft, it should be easy to line them with fabric. For example, a wooden bed is a great newborn photography prop. However, plan to cover it with a faux fur blanket or other soft material.
I have an entire post devoted to how to choose fabric for newborn photography props. It will help familiarize you with the most popular newborn prop fabrics and give you the guidelines you need to select soft, safe, durable props every time, even when you’re shopping online.
Selecting appropriately-sized newborn photography props ensures that the outfits and accessories will fit well and that newborns can be properly positioned in baskets and beds without risk of injury.
One of the most common complaints I see while browsing newborn photography prop reviews is that they’re sized too large for newborns. A “newborn” label on a photography prop listing doesn’t automatically mean that it’s sized just right for infant babies. Most babies born between 37 and 40 weeks weigh between 5 pounds, 8 ounces (2,500 grams) and 8 pounds, 13 ounces (4,000 grams) [source] and measure 18 to 22 inches in length [source].
When you’re considering new props, it’s always a good idea to check the size specifications and read the reviews. If you’re ever unsure about the sizing, contact the seller before making your purchase. When you shop for props in stores and at flea markets and estate sales, bring a tape measure with you. After years of experience photographing newborns, most likely you know that will and won’t work and can eyeball most items. However, it never hurts to take measurements.
For certain kinds of photo shoots, it may be funny to use oversized props in moderation. However, generally with newborn photography, it doesn’t work terribly well. Newborns tend to get lost behind items that are simply too big.
A newborn’s head is a significant percentage of her body weight. When you position an infant in a basket or other lightweight prop, his head may tip over the basket completely if she leans forward or sideways suddenly or jerks in her sleep. When you’re using lightweight pieces, weigh them down with hand weights, disc weights, or similar items to ensure the babies you’re photographing stay safe at all times.
When you’re purchasing vintage items or repurposing other items into props, especially for newborn sessions, it’s always important to check for sharp edges or other elements that will be potentially harmful. A worn metal bucket may look amazing. But it won’t be a great choice for a newborn shoot if it is has sharp edges of rust spots.
Original prop contents
When you’re shopping for vintage items or thinking about repurposing pieces into photography studio props, it’s also important to think about what the item was used for originally. Anything that contained harsh chemicals or can’t be fully sanitized shouldn’t be used with newborns. For example, many couples like to incorporate firefighting equipment into newborn sessions. Firefighters use heavy duty chemicals to fight fires, and their boots and hats are often covered in soot and dirt. These items just aren’t a great fit for newborn photography.
Vintage items with any rust damage should be avoided. Even when you cover up the rust spots with a blanket or pillow, there’s still always the risk of the baby coming in contact with rust if the covering shifts.
All newborn baby props should be cleaned thoroughly after every photo session. Wipe down vinyl backdrops and other items that you can’t launder, such as baskets and vintage luggage, with disinfectant wipes or a bleach solution. Run all outfits, accessories, and blankets through the laundry. I recommend investing in a set of mesh laundry bags for delicate items. Most mesh/gauze wraps, headbands, and hats should be washed in a mesh bag on a delicate, cold water setting and then line dried. Having a couple of laundry baskets on hand in your studio will make it easy to transport items back and forth between shoots.
Additional safety considerations for newborn photography sessions
There are a few additional safety considerations that I want to cover that don’t relate specifically to props but should still be given a high priority during all newborn photography sessions.
Keep the baby warm
Keeping newborn babies at optimal temperatures helps them conserve energy and build up reserves. [Source] During a newborn shoot, it’s not uncommon for the baby to spend minutes on end without being swaddled or wrap. To compensate for the lack of covering, most newborn photographers turn up the heat in their studio space a degree or two and also use a space heater to keep their clients toasty. A space heater allows for much more controlled heat directly on the baby, which is a much better and more cost-effective solution than keeping the studio really warm all the time.
Avoid purple fingers
Newborn babies have immature circulatory systems. As such, it’s easy for their circulation to get off, particularly when they’re in certain poses or positions, such as when their hands are under their chin or peaking out over the top of a wrap. As a newborn photographer, you should always be aware of purple fingers, so you can watch for this condition during a shoot. If you notice a baby’s fingers turning purple, move the baby immediately,
Always use a spotter
Having a photography assistant or a newborn baby’s mom or dad spot you during photos greatly reduces the chances of something happening during a session. Newborn babies have very little control over their bodies. It’s easy for them to slip suddenly, which can be dangerous, especially when you’re using props. Most parents love being involved in their infant babies’ shoots. They’re more than happy to help out in any way that you need.
When you take a break to get a drink, use the restroom, or answer a phone call, don’t leave the baby in the midst of a shoot. Wrap up the outfit or position you’re shooting, and hand the baby off to the parent before stepping away.
Always wear a camera strap
I know that for various reasons, not all photographers love wearing camera straps. As a professional, it’s best practice to invest in a camera strap that you love and get in the habit of wearing it every single time. A high-quality camera strap ensures that your gear and your clients stay safe. When you photograph newborns, you often hold the camera directly over their heads. The last thing you want is for the camera to slip and fall right on a baby. Wearing the camera strap greatly reduces the chances of an incident.
There are numerous high-quality camera straps in every style and color imaginable. It’s important that you choose a durable strap that you love wearing. Just a few high-rated options on Amazon include the TARION vintage belt camera strap, Altura camera strap with quick release and safety tether, and Peak design black slide camera strap.
[Disclaimer: This post includes a few affiliate links. Thanks for your support!]
Pin this post for easy access to the safety considerations for newborn photography props resource later!
Are you a newborn photographer? Would you like your work featured on Best Newborn Photography Props?
I’m always looking for new photographers to showcase in my articles and shopping resources. Full credit with links is always given!
Please contact me if you’re interested!