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While we never guarantee a smile during a newborn photography session, sometimes we’re lucky enough to capture what we like to think is baby’s first photographed grin. Some might say it’s gas or a newborn reflex that is physical and in no way social or emotional, but we’re quite happy calling it a real, true smile. Because, what’s sweeter and more memorable than a newborn baby smiling at just a few days old?

We like to think we’ve mastered the art of capturing baby smiles. We’ve seen more than a few and after years of taking baby photos, there are a few tricks we have up our sleeve to help the grinning process move along. Of course, it often happens on a whim and with a great deal of patience and attention, but these 4 tricks sometimes result in the sweetest of baby smiles!

Family Photography How to Make Baby Smile in Newborn Photos
4 Ways to help encourage baby’s first “smile”

1. Gently blow light air around their face. Sometime the little tickle of air will encourage a little grin to appear!

2. Ever so slightly, tickle around the baby’s cheeks and very gently encourage one corner of the lip upwards. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, the rest of the mouth will smile along.

3. Gently whisper in baby’s ear – this seems to be most successful when it’s mom’s voice, so sometimes we invite the mother over to the shooting area for some sweet whispers in the ear. If the photo is of mom and baby, especially in Prayer Pose, it can work quite well!

4. Be patient and wait for the right cycle of sleep. Babies’ REM sleep cycle (the light, easily disturbed sleep) is relatively short and they tend to smile when they’re entering and exiting this stage of sleep. Pay attention and you can recognize some of the signs. Baby will start to breathe a bit heavier. Their eyes will move back and forth behind their closed eyelids. Often baby will frown, grimace, even pinch their lips a bit. All of these slight facial movements indicate baby is about to enter or exit that cycle of sleep and a smile may be very near!

Again, we never guarantee that baby will gift us with such a sweet grin, but when they do, well, we think it’s pretty magical. Here are some of our favorites. Want to see more Baby Smiles? Check out our Baby Smiles Pinterest board!

Newborn Photography How to Make Baby Smile in Newborn PhotosNewborn Photography How to Make a Baby Smile in Newborn PhotosA sweet newborn grin. | Jewel Images Bend, Oregon Newborn Photographer #newborn #photography #newbornphotographer #jewelimages
Hi there smiling baby! | Jewel Images Bend, Oregon Newborn Photographer #newborn #photography #newbornphotographer #jewelimages

And then, if you’re really lucky, this might happen. Wink, wink!

Baby Giving a Peace Sign Newborn Photography

  1. Chaya braun says:

    OMG! These are just too cute for words!

  2. Dawn says:

    I came across this great little article on Pinterest! I think I need to try some of these tips and see if I can get some of my babies to smile during their newborn sessions. Thanks for sharing, Julia 🙂

  3. Linda says:

    What cuties. Your work is beautiful. Thanks for the great photo tips.

  4. isabelle says:

    That top image is to die for ! I wonder what baby was thinking when he put on this big smile. These smiles are so rewarding when we are working hard to capture their beauty away. I love the smiles, but also all of the funny faces that they constantly make, especially in that REM (rapid eye movement) sleep cycle. They can be quite entertaining 🙂

  5. Julia says:

    We agree!

  6. Colleen Holmes says:

    Today is my first photo session! Luckily, I have a 6-week old grandson to practice on. Love your tutorials! Thank you for posting!

  7. Jade Brunet says:

    I am happy to have found this article about baby photography. It is good to know that by gently blowing on a baby’s face, one can make a grin appear on the infant’s lips. Something to consider would be to find a photography service who is patient and willing to spend the time necessary to capture quality baby pictures.

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