There are hundreds of ways to wrap a newborn for their portrait session. And as long as you’re accounting for the baby’s safety and comfort, there’s really not a wrong way to do it. That said, there are some tricks as well as safety precautions that will guarantee beautiful images as well as a varied gallery that clients will love.
The secret to a successful wrap is the fabric used. The best fabrics are stretchy when pulled in all directions. I’ve found that a piece of fabric about 60 inches long and 15 inches wide works great.
There are wraps that work as base wraps and others that function more as decorative wraps. Base wraps should be soft and stretchy; decorative wraps can be made of material with more texture and less flexibility.
Start by securing the baby’s arms. They can be down next to the baby’s torso or up with bent elbows so the hands peek from the top of the wrap under their chin. The latter allows for poses with the baby holding something like a teddy bear or a heart. Some babies have such strong arms that wrapping with the arms next to their torso will be less frustrating for you.
Wrap tightly enough that the baby’s arms are secure, but not so tight that heir hands are turning purple. You should be able to fit a couple of fingers between the fabric and the baby’s body with no difficulty.
Once the arms are secure with one or two loops of fabric, cross the legs and bring them up to the baby’s belly. Now you can wrap around the legs, creating a little ball.
Don’t wrap too tightly, as this can cause stomach discomfort, especially if the baby just ate or has reflux. Always keep the right amount of tension. Too tight and you’ll compromise the baby’s comfort, blood flow, and breathing; too loose and they’ll escape in a matter of seconds.
Although one wrap can be enough to photograph the baby, you want to make the most out of the session without disturbing your model. I recommend using a second and even a third wrap before starting to pose the baby.
For the second wrap, you can choose any technique you want. Some options include:
There are hundreds of online tutorials that can help you choose the wrapping method that’s right for your style. You may even be inspired to create your own.
When choosing the second and third wraps, consider the color palette you’re using for the session. You can also choose interesting textures and sets that have matching or complementary hats or headbands.
At this point, the baby should be asleep or dozing off. They’ll go into a deep sleep soon, and that’s exactly what you want to begin the session. Photograph the first set of images with the baby in the outer wrap. Change a couple of things in this image set to maximize the pose.
When you move to the second set of images, remove the outer wrap, revealing a perfectly wrapped baby looking completely different—and the baby is still fast asleep. You can add or remove elements to create variety.
For the third set of images, you’ll be left with the base wrap. Take a few photos with the baby wrapped and then slowly start unwrapping. You can expose the legs and take a few shots like that; parents love to see their baby’s fingers and toes. You can also play with the fabric that’s left, creating interesting effects.
You’ll end with a completely unwrapped baby and, if you’re lucky, they will still be asleep. This is the perfect time to do beanbag poses.
If the baby wakes up when you unwrap, this is a great opportunity to capture some relaxed expressions and eye contact, which parents love.
Wrapping a baby is a great way to exercise creativity and style in a newborn photography session. Experiment with different techniques using a newborn posing doll, and bring your practiced methods to your newborn sessions after you feel confident that you’re ready.
Marcela Limon is a fine art maternity and newborn photographer and owner of Lemonshoots studio in Alameda, California.