What to Wear for Newborn Photos | Tips for Choosing Outfits for Your Newborn Photoshoot
Can you help us figure out what to wear for our newborn photos? Yes!!
This is the question I get asked most often by families who reach out to hire me to take their newborn photos.
Some new moms place their complete trust in me, knowing I have a Client Closet with soft, cozy outfits for babies and beautiful flowy dresses and sweaters for moms. If figuring out what to wear for your newborn photos is completely overwhelming, I’ve got you! Once you’ve scheduled your session with me, you can skip this blog post and check a big item off your to do list 🙂
Other new moms would be devastated to have the special task of picking out their baby’s outfits taken away from them. They may have added tons of adorable baby clothes to their registry months before the baby shower invitations even get mailed. Your baby will only be this little once. So I completely understand the need to shop for ALL the adorable baby things! I see you out there, mama… When you show up at every photo session with all your family’s outfits carefully coordinated, I know that didn’t happen by accident. And I love you for it! If you’re a mama who knows what she likes, I’m so excited to bring your vision to life!
Most new moms are somewhere in the middle between these two extremes. They want to pick outfits they love for their new baby’s first photos, but they just don’t know where to even begin. If this is you, read on! I have lots of tips to get over that hump and help you figure out what to wear for your newborn photos.
Why Does What You Wear for Newborn Photos Matter?
It might seem like exposure is the most important factor that impacts how bright a final image ends up being. But this isn’t the full story. Making an image brighter by increasing the exposure won’t make it look light and airy. Just as decreasing the exposure to make it darker won’t make it look dark and moody.
An Example to Illustrate This Idea
Picture This: Imagine a family wearing light colored outfits–mom in a light yellow floral dress, dad in a sky blue shirt and their young toddler in a cream colored knit romper. They’re standing in front of a white building with marble columns with some bright sunlight and sky shining through the columns in the background as dad throws their toddler up in the air and mom laughs. This is an image that would make any light and airy photographer’s heart sing.
As a professional photographer, I’m a member of many different photography groups and forums as I always pick up great tips and tricks from other pros. But I can’t even count the number of times a photographer in a light & airy photography group has posted a sample of their work for their peers begging for help because they just can’t seem to achieve that light & airy look they’re striving for. Aside from understanding and using light well, the single most important factor for light and bright and airy photos is what colors are in the frame.
And Now Picture This: Imagine a family wearing deep, rich colors–mom in a stunning navy velvet dress, dad in black slacks and a deep rust-colored sweater, and their little girl in a mustard yellow dress. They’re kneeling in the grass in front of a dark wood barn door that fills the frame and laughing as their little girl runs into mom’s arms. It is full of power and emotion and love. But no editing magic will make this image look light and bright and airy. It is ultimately destined to be a dark and moody image. And it would look oddly unnatural if you tried to make is something else.
In the right photographer’s capable hands, both of these images would be powerful and beautiful. But they would be fundamentally different. And that’s an important thing to understand. It’s why choosing outfits in a purposeful way is important if you have a style preference as to how you want your final images to look.
Applying This Concept to Your Newborn Photos: Most of my backlit images end up leaning more toward the light & airy style. But here is an excellent example of how outfit choices determine the overall mood of an image. With dad’s dark shirt filling most of the frame, this image is bold, emotional, and colorful. And I love it!
And as is often the case with bold, emotional images, this same image looks just as striking in black & white as it does in color. The bright white of baby Ethan’s onesie combined with the bold patterns and the deep shadows give it so much depth and contrast.
Now in this next image, notice how much taking dad’s dark shirt out of the frame impacts the overall mood of the image. The images you see above were taken in the same room as the image you see below. But notice how when it’s mommy’s turn to snuggle with baby Ethan in his white onesie surrounded by the white crib and white walls of his nursery, the overall feel of the image is light and airy.
Even though these two images have a very different feel, I love both of them! And they serve as a great example to illustrate why your outfit choices can have such an important impact on your newborn photos.
What Are the “Best Colors” to Wear for Newborn Photos?
I’m captivated by natural images that focus on expressions and emotions and all the little moments of love and connection you share with your baby. And just like my natural shooting style, I like to keep my editing style true to color. My ultimate goal is to freeze a sweet moment in your family’s life in time forever in a way that is authentic and natural.
While some photographers recommend staying in a particular color palette that’s well-suited to their specific editing style, I’m a firm believer that there’s not just one set of “right colors” that look the best in newborn photos. But as the examples above hopefully illustrated, the colors in the frame do impact your images in a significant way.
Does this mean it’s all on you to figure out what to wear for your newborn photos? Heck no! But this is why I like to give options 🙂
Approach #1: Classic Neutrals
If you love light, bright, & airy newborn photos, choosing light-colored outfits (like white, ivory, cream, beige, light gray, or subtle pastel colors) is essential for achieving this look in your newborn photos. It can be harder for moms to choose an outfit for family newborn photos simply because your normal clothing size isn’t quite right just after you deliver a baby. A a cozy knit sweater or a long, flowy dress are beautiful, comfortable options that help moms look and feel their best for newborn photos with their new baby. I especially love light colors for mom because I find it makes the photos feel light and bright. Here are some ideas to see if this is the style you’d love to wear for your newborn photos:
Mom absolutely knocked their outfits out of the park by mixing light colored knit neutrals with a subtle pattern in her sweater for contrast. I love how she kept things simple for baby Eoin as well. This is a great example of how a single pair of taupe knit newborn pants can be a beautiful outfit for a baby just by itself! They happened to have a light colored headboard and white walls in their bedroom as well. So every angle allowed us to fill the frame with light colors for that light & airy style mom loved.
This new mom told me straight away that she loved clean & classic images. So she took my tips on light-colored neutral outfits and ran with it! She picked out a light beige sweater for herself and a white shirt for dad. In a soft pink knit romper and white floral headband from my Client Closet, the subtle touch of texture and soft color work so well to to draw your eye right to sweet baby Kennedy snuggled in their arms. It’s important not to underestimate the impact texture can have when coordinating your outfits.
I absolutely adore this quiet moment of this new mama with her baby boy Nolan. I think this is a great example of how classic and timeless and beautiful white outfits can be for newborn photos. You might think a white backlit image with mom and in a white shirt and baby boy in a white onesie would be too much white. But I feel like this image throws that assumption right out the window. I’ll talk more about strategies for layering white on white in the individual newborn outfits section below.
Pro tip: Coordinate, don’t match! When you take this Classic Neutrals approach, matching outfits are not ideal. If everyone is wearing light colors, you need something to provide a bit of contrast so that everyone doesn’t blend together. This family mixes different shades of light neutrals with a soft pastel pink for big sister for a beautifully bright & classic look. With a bit of texture on mom’s dress, a fuzzy white swaddle for baby Mattie, and knits for dad and big sister, layers of texture add even more dimension to this look.
Approach #2: Pops of Color & Pattern
If you love vibrant, colorful newborn photos, start with one color or pattern you love and build your other outfits around that. I recommend choosing either Mom or Baby’s outfit first. Then, pair with solid complementary colors and textures for contrast.
Moms often ask my opinion on using multiple patterns. This is a case by case question, and I always invite moms to send me a picture of their outfits all laid out together if they want my feedback. But I’ve found that sometimes it works really well to mix one larger print, bold pattern with another smaller print, subtle pattern. I don’t recommend using more than 2 patterns total, though, as it begins to look very busy and can lead to clashing combinations. Once you hit the two pattern limit, I recommend using solid colors and textures to coordinate the remaining outfits for the rest of the family. Here are some ideas to see if this is the style you’d love to wear for your newborn photos:
Here’s a great example of using pops of complementary colors to create a cohesive look with beautiful contrast. With baby Tripp in blue linen overalls and big sister in her copper colored skirt, it really draws your attention to the adorable kids at the center of these parents’ world. Mom completed the look by keeping her and dad in neutral colors, giving that bit of extra contrast with dad in a medium gray Henley and mom in a textured, flowy white blouse. I love light colors for moms, especially when families tell me they’re hoping for images with a bright and classic look like you see pictured below.
Having one parent in a light color and the other parent in a dark color gives a bit of depth and drama. With mom in a flowy white blouse, dad in a navy knit sweater, and baby Ellie in a burgandy knit romper, the rich complementary colors make every combination look amazing! Do you remember those newborn days when sitting on your bed and adoring your baby boy was the only task on the agenda? It makes you smile and makes your heart ache at the same time!
A beautiful pattern is another way to make your newborn photos really pop. Mom took my advice to choose her outfit first and selected a dress for herself with a subtle floral pattern that she loved. To tie the whole look together, she picked a medium tan sweater for dad and a white onesie for baby Owen. What a beautiful contrast of color and pattern that still has that bright and classic feel!
I just love how baby Owen in his white onesie really pops out against mom’s pattern in the black and white images as well!
For in home newborn sessions, it can also be helpful to consider how your wall colors will impact your images as you plan your family’s outfits. I’m not sure if it was purposeful, but in this case mom even managed to coordinate their outfits with their living room wall color and puppy Lucy.
Newborn Outfit Ideas for Photos
Your baby is the star of the session, so I want to take a bit of time to apply the approaches I introduced above specifically to your baby. I like to go beyond just thinking about the clothes your baby will wear for newborn photos and consider other elements. Choosing accessories like blankets, swaddles, crib sheets, hats or headbands is part of deciding what to wear for newborn photos.
While none of these items are essential for beautiful newborn photos, they are often a beautiful way to incorporate color or pattern or texture. Additionally, these elements can give your photos more depth and dimension. They can add variety without having to completely change the baby. They can be practical, like using a swaddle to help a tired baby feel cozy and snuggle in for a much-needed nap. And they can be sentimental, like including a homemade blanket that Grandma made with love for her very first grandchild.
Approach #1: Classic Neutrals
Whether we’re in my studio or in your home, I provide everything we need to create a bright and cozy nest for your new baby’s individual newborn photos. I also have a collection of soft and comfy swaddles and blankets in a variety of neutral colors that can be used for layering and texture. It’s helpful to think about how your baby’s outfit and the backdrop will work together to create a cohesive look. Here are some ideas to see if this is the style you’d love your baby to wear for newborn photos:
Sweet little Owen looks adorable here snuggled in his parents hands in a long sleeved textured romper on a simple white backdrop. I’ll often have parents roll up their sleeves and only get their hands in these types of shots. But in this case I loved how dad’s medium brown sweater brought a touch of warmth the photo.
I adore Hazel’s handmade pink knit romper with a beautiful textured pattern paired with a simple white bow on a clean, white backdrop. This romper is one of the most popular pieces in my Client Closet, so I have it in both light pink and in white. I always love incorporating parents’ hands in newborn pictures to show that love and connection, too!
Declan’s taupe overalls from my Client Closet and long sleeved onesie on a textured ivory backdrop are a perfect combination for that classic, neutral newborn look. I still can’t get over his expression!
Wrapped in the softest, fuzzy beige swaddle from my Client Closet and taking a nap on a clean white backdrop, little Lawson couldn’t possibly be any cuter!
Pro Tips for Layering White on White
Incorporating a texture can work very well to provide a touch of contrast if you want to layer a white outfit on a white background. Baby Bryce already looked adorable snuggled up in this waffle textured white swaddle blanket from my Client Closet. We laid him down on a white backdrop and when he yawned, we all just melted!
Here’s another example of using a subtle texture to layer white on white for those beautifully bright, white newborn photos. In this photo, Julian looks so sweet wearing a simple short-sleeved onesie with a ribbed texture laying on a white knit blanket as he grabs onto his mama’s hands with his tiny fingers.
There’s truly no need to do anything fancy when it comes to natural newborn photos. In a white wrap onesie on a clean, white backdrop, baby Patrick here proves how beautiful white can be when you have your heart set on bright and classic newborn photos!
Approach #2: Pops of Color & Pattern
If you love vibrant, colorful newborn photos, pair one beautiful pattern with a solid accent color for contrast. Keep in mind that I provide everything we need to create a bright and cozy nest for your new baby’s individual newborn photos. So we always have a simple white or ivory background that pairs beautifully with a colorful pattern. Here are a few examples to see if this is the style you’d love your baby to wear for newborn photos:
Big stretch! I adore sweet little Claire in a simple white onesie paired with a pink swaddle and headband. The textured white blanket she’s laying on gives a bit more depth to the shadows in the image as well.
I absolutely love all the natural newborn movements and expressions! Babies will often stretch and look back toward the window light when you lay them flat on their back in their crib. So a crib sheet can also be a great way to bring a touch of color and pattern into your images. If you want to keep the images bright, consider searching for a crib sheet with white as the base color and a simple pattern you love. This crib sheet with a eucalyptus pattern pairs beautifully with a simple pair of navy newborn pants. All we had to do was lay Townes down and he put on quite an adorable show for us!
I’m a big fan of a bright and beautiful floral pattern for newborn baby girls. If you want to keep your images bright and are looking for a colorful swaddle blanket, consider searching for a swaddle with white as the base color. It keeps the overall image feeling light and makes both the pattern and your baby really pop!
A colorful pattern doesn’t just have to be for girls, either! Justin is too darn cute in this blue and white striped romper from my Client Closet with a short-sleeved white onesie underneath. The simple pattern with a pop of blue creates a beautiful contrast that looks amazing in both color and black & white.
Miss Kinsley is so pretty laying in her crib on a beautiful crib sheet with a colorful floral pattern. Her fuzzy pink blanket and white headband are perfect touches to tie together this whole look.
How Many Outfits Should I Choose for My Baby’s Newborn Photoshoot?
I suggest that you choose 2-3 outfits (including blankets and accessories) that you love for your newborn session. This allows us to get some variety in your images, it gives us a back-up outfit in case of stains during the session, and it prevents us from losing too much precious session time for wardrobe changes. Also keep in mind that we can use individual elements (like a headband, hat, diaper cover, or blanket) of each of the outfits you’ve selected for additional variety.
A Few of My Favorite Online Shops for Newborn Photos
- For Newborns → H&M, Zara, Carter’s (especially their Little Planet line) ~ Great for newborn & preemie size linen, cotton gauze, & knits
- For Moms → Baltic Born, Joyfolie ~ Great for flowy maxi dresses
- For Dads & Older Boys → Sailwind Store on Amazon, J.Crew, Gap, Old Navy ~ Great for classic and stylish pants, henleys, and sweaters for men and boys
- For Little Boys → Carters, Reverie Threads, ChubbyBubbyBear ~ Great for rompers, jumpsuits, and overalls
- For Older Girls → Joyfolie, Indie Blue ~ Great for flowy dresses
- For Little Girls → H&M, Reverie Threads, ChubbyBubbyBear ~ Great for rompers, dresses, and knit onesies
You’ve Got This!
I’ll leave you with one last example to tie it all together. I wasn’t sure where to include this example since it doesn’t exactly fit either of my two approaches. But stick with me and hear me out! I love this example because in this case, mom already had a vision for her newborn photos in mind when she hired me. She told me she was drawn to dramatic black and white images with a lot of contrast. They were building a new home and decorating it entirely with timeless black and white decor.
I deliver all of my images in both color and black & white. But we knew going into our session that it would be the black and white versions she would print to decorate the walls of their new home. Having both parents dressed in all black and their baby girl dressed in white–it was the PERFECT choice to bring this new mama’s vision to life. THIS is why I don’t just give my clients a list of colors that are best for newborn photos. Instead I offer guidance and inspiration so I can help you bring what you love to life in your images.
All of the tips I’ve shared are just ideas for inspiration, not hard and steadfast rules. Look at examples to see what you love. Then tell your photographer and trust them to help you bring that vision to life! If I’m really lucky that photographer will be me…but if not, no worries.
You’ve got this, mama!
Are you looking for a photographer for your newborn photos?
I’d love to capture some of your family’s sweet snuggles with your new baby! Kristin Brockman Photography offers natural light studio and in home newborn photos for growing families. For more information, you can check out my Newborn Portfolio and Newborn Session Details. You can also check out my Featured Photo Sessions, to see the full gallery of images from a few of my newborn sessions and reach out if you’re looking for newborn photos.
If you have any questions or want to inquire about my availability for newborn photos, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kristin Brockman Photography is a natural light newborn photographer based in Pottstown, Pennsylvania who serves clients in the Greater Philadelphia area. She specializes in natural, family-centered newborn photos focused on capturing genuine and authentic moments.
Want to Read More?
Did you love this article and find that it helped you choose what to wear for your newborn photos? Check out my Complete Guide to Natural Light Lifestyle Newborn Photography for more tips and details on my Natural Newborn Photography.