Newborns Sleep Cycles and Photography

Your sweet precious newborn baby sleeps soundly, your eyes are glued on this amazing miracle. Excited you eagerly anticipate your photographer’s arrival to capture this fleeting moment in life when your newborn child is so small and new. As a new mom, you are just trying to sleep when you can, and may not understand your newborn’s sleep cycles…other than the fact that they are short, lol.

So why is it important for you and your photographer to understand a newborns sleep cycle? The better your newborn sleeps the sweeter and more unique the posing can be. The biggest mistake made by both parents and photographers is forcing a pose before baby is ready. A newborns sleep cycle runs between 40-50 minutes, much shorter than adults. There are 4 phases, but only 2 that need serious attention…R.E.M. and NonR.E.M. It is incredibly important to wait until your newborn is in the nonR.E.M. sleep cycle. This is the cycle of complete bliss for you, baby and of course the photographer. We can move your sweet little bundle of joy into amazing little poses that will make your heart swoon!

Number 1 Mistake

The most common mistake committed by non-experienced newborn photographers is trying to pose the baby right after they feed and before they even enter their REM cycle. It is easy to differentiate newborns sleep cycles. In their REM stage they have rapid eye moment, but beyond that, their breath is rapid and will sometimes stop for 10-15 seconds. They will also twitch and make those heart-swelling cooing noises that melt our hearts.

Number 2 Mistake

The second most common mistake is not scheduling enough time for your session, most take 2 hours. If everything runs perfectly and baby is all tuckered out, a newborns sleep cycle will start soon after the session. At best this means around an hour in total of deep sleep. This is plenty of time to create some amazing images if your time is utilized properly.

Important Note

Use all your time wisely. If baby is awake, take advantage of the time and capture lifestyle images between mom, dad and baby. Even in the worst situations, with a cranky baby, and exhausted parents I can still find a way to capture the love and warmth that is felt within the family. The most important note┬áis to be prepared, make sure your photographer provides you with a newborn prep guide. If they don’t have a guide I’d suggest hiring another photographer if possible. Knowledge is power in all aspects of life, and in photography knowledge often relieves some of the stress that a session puts on a family.

Here are a few images from a sweet session I had with my client Ashish’s newborn son.

Until next time, may you live each day to it’s fullest and treasure every moment with your loved ones:)




I am so happy that you're here! My name is Crystal Summer Bear, I am an avid traveler, solopreneur and boutique portrait and wedding photographer. 
I love to share tips, tricks and beautiful stories that connect us all. 
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