I get asked this question a lot, mostly by parents who have been worrying about all of the things that could go wrong during their newborn photoshoot, and having an awake baby honestly isn't something that I would consider a bad thing to happen in the studio!
Although a lot of the posed photos that are shown online require a baby that is sleeping soundly there is still plenty of things that we can do when babies decide to have a little bit of awake time. My sessions are baby-led, meaning that if babies are awake I would rather work with them and let them have some time to kick about and stretch instead of trying to get them back to sleep if they aren't ready for it. The chances are they will tire themselves out eventually anyway, which means we will hopefully be able to capture some sleepy shots after all of the awake fun too!
Here are a few examples of what I tend to do if babies are having some awake time:
Swaddle Them Up
My go-to when babies are fighting the sleep! Being wrapped up all cosy helps them settle down and drift off to sleep on most occasions. Because they are a literal bundle of joy at that point too it means we can easily transition between poses and set ups without disturbing them too much, especially helpful if we have a light sleeper on our hands! Even if they aren't asleep, because they are so snug when swaddled they are easily posed meaning we can carry on capturing cute images of their wide awake eyes.
This is an ideal time for family pictures as if baby needs a little bit of soothing they will want to be with Mummy or Daddy having a cuddle, so it's win win. Baby gets their cuddles and we can get some cute family photos too!
In Parents Hands
At the same time as family photos it's nice to do poses where babies are laying in parents hands. It helps to keep the session running smoothly because Mum & Dad are already over and involved with having pictures taken, and babies will usually remain settled because they know Mummy & Daddy are close by.
What I like about doing photographs with siblings while babies are awake is the reactions you get from the older children. Seeing their new baby brother/sister looking around the room can bring out some lovely expressions from older siblings and allows me to capture some natural and genuine interactions between them, which are often adorable enough to bring tears of pure joy to your eyes!
Let them stretch it out
Sometimes babies just want to burn off some energy by letting their legs and arms stretch about. When babies seem in an active mood it's nice to just put a vest or simple sleepsuit on them and let them explore while I capture their little expressions. Having them dressed means that we don't have to worry about keeping them covered up and only photographing them from modest angles. Dressing them in something simple also means that it's easier to remove the clothes if they do decide to go to sleep and we want to attempt some undressed photos.
This list isn't exclusive, there are other things that we can try too, it just all depends on how the baby is feeling at the time and what photos we have managed to take (if any) before they wake up. But I hope this has helped answer some of the questions you have about babies not sleeping during their newborn shoot.
Thanks for reading, Amy x