Get to know your little model.
By this I mean much more than their name, date of birth, method of delivery and so on!
Spend some time before you start posing baby by gently getting to know how he or she reacts to your touch. You will then know what to expect when it comes to positioning your little model. For example, we are often taught that when posing baby's hands under the cheek, the 'correct' way to do this is have all baby's fingers nicely laid flat. However, if baby hates having their hands touched and prefers to curl up their little fingers, I would personally let it be, as I believe any parent would rather have an image of their beautiful baby comfortably asleep with curled fingers than witness baby become upset by repeated attempts to achieve the 'ideal'.
Some babies are simply more touch-sensitive than others and even the gentlest pressure can trigger the startle reflex. Others may have already had an experience that makes them more sensitive. My eldest daughter for example was in special care for a week after birth and, after having canulas in each hand, was very fussy about having her hands touched for a while.
Make sure you ask mum and dad whether baby has any medical issues because if necessary, you will need to factor these into your session. For example, I've photographed some babies over the years with Muscular Torticollis, a condition where baby has a muscle on one side of the neck that is tighter than the other. The good news is that this condition usually gets better without any long term side effects but, as the condition can make it difficult for baby to turn their head a certain way, you do need to think about your posing if this is an issue. If its not possible to adapt a pose to ensure baby's comfort (eg by switching my setup around to favour whatever side baby is comfortable with) I'll avoid poses that could cause discomfort in favour of those that won't. A cute photo is never worth making a baby uncomfortable or upset.
Reflux - plenty of babies suffer with reflux or colic and, having a hiatus hernia and suffering from reflux flare ups myself, I can really sympathise. My tip for this? Something I was advised to do myself. When I sleep, I lie on my left side with my upper body slightly elevated, as this helps prevent reflux symptoms due to the way the stomach empties as opposed to lying on the right side. Seems sensible to me therefore to lie my newborn clients on their left side in the same way when posing.
Well I'll leave it there for now and hope to be back at some point to blog some more!
In summary, tip#1 is all about ensuring you communicate with mum and dad and spend some time getting to know your little client before you start posing. A few moment's conversation and thought before setting up your session will make all the difference.
Thanks for reading!