Belly to Birthday: Why to document all the important milestones in your baby’s first year!

collage consisting of 4 photos. the first shows a pregnant woman smiling at the camera, with her hands interlocked resting on her belly. she's outside in the early winter, standing in front of trees that are lit up with fairy lights. the second photo shows the same woman, now standing inside next to her husband, as they both lovingly look at their newborn son. the third photo is of the son, now at 9 months old. Hr's crawling in autumn colored leaves, while looking  up & smirking at the camera. The last image is of the whole family inside their modern kitchen. The pants are leaning against a white marble island, while their 1 year old son is sat in between them. The baby has smashed up cake in between his legs and is smashing some of the leftovers into his moms mouth, while dad laughs at them.

Whether it is your first baby or third- here are a few reasons why you should photograph all the important moments of the first year of your child’s life from maternity photos to a cake-smash family session:

  1. Milestones: During the first year of your child’s life, they go through several important stages of life such as the first smile, first laugh, first word, first steps, and developing personality quirks! Photographs are a great way to capture and preserve these events for a lifetime.
  2. Memories: As your babies grow up, they often forget the details of their early years. Photographs can help them recall these memories and give them a glimpse into their childhood. Looking back at these photos can also bring back fond memories for parents.
  3. Family history: Photographs are an important part of family history. They allow parents and their children to connect with their ancestors and their family history. By taking photos of your child’s first year, you are creating a record of your family’s history that can be passed down for generations. The photos act as a time capsule representing a moment in your history that can be cherished by generations to come. 
  4. Emotional connection: Every family has a special bond unique to them. By documenting the first few years of your child’s life, you can visually see how their bond with your family has changed and developed. You will be able to see the love present throughout your family in a series of photos and cherish the memories of your child growing up. 

There are a lot of incredible moments that whiz by in those first 365 days. As a photographer, I can tell you these are my favorite stages and the best to capture to ensure you don’t miss a moment. 

Milestone 1: The Maternity Shoot- The Before 

A pregnant woman in a white long sleeved dress is touching foreheads with her husband as they smile at one another. Both of their hands are placed on her pregnant belly. They are standing on a street with trees in the background that are lit up with fairy lights, during the late fall/early winter season.

Anticipation abounds- doing maternity photos can be a beautiful way to commemorate this special time in your life and celebrate the upcoming arrival of your child. Even if you feel unsure of whether you want to do a maternity session or if it’s something you should do, there are several reasons why you may want to consider getting maternity photos:

  1. Embracing your body: Pregnancy can sometimes be hard on your body, and it’s natural to feel insecure about your body. However, getting maternity photos can be a way to embrace your body and celebrate the beauty of pregnancy. By capturing images of your growing belly, you can see the beauty in your body and appreciate the miracle of life growing inside of you. After all, you are growing a whole human in there- BE PROUD of what your amazing body can accomplish. 
  2. Creating memories: Pregnancy is a unique and special time in your life, and it’s a time that you will want to remember (even if you don’t necessarily feel that way every day). Maternity sessions act as a definitive time period in your life- there was a before baby and there will be an after, once your baby arrives. These photos will start a new chapter in your life, even if this is not your first child. This session can preserve the dynamic you have with your first child before they are no longer an only child, but now an older sibling.
  3. A gift for your child: Maternity photos can be a special gift for your child. As they grow up, they’ll be able to see the images of you carrying them and feel the love and excitement that surrounded their arrival. Having a few prints from your maternity session displayed in their nursery is always a special way for them to be surrounded by you and your love for them. When it really comes down to it- these photos are more for your baby than they are for you.  
a collage of 2 images. the 1st photo is a husband & pregnant wife standing in a street in early winter in front of lit-up trees. they're both looking at her belly, as their hands rest upon it. The second image shows the same couple, but now they're looking into each other's eyes smiling.

Milestone 2: Newborn Shoot- The After

There is a swaddled baby asleep in his nice wooden crib, with a pile of stuffed animals in the corner of the crib. The crib is placed in front of a large window, as beautiful sunlights shines on the crib.

They’re here! And life is a little more hectic than you expected. Sometimes with all the hassle of adjusting to your new life with the baby, things can slip your mind and be put on the back burner. What I love about the Belly to Birthday package is that it guarantees four session dates on my calendar. This provides extra accountability (I promise to give the gentlest nudges) to ensure that all of your sessions are done in a timely manner without you having to worry about it. Babies change and grow rather quickly, so newborn photos are always nice to have to look back on to see how squishy they once were. I also think all new moms deserve as much flexibility as possible to do things when it works best for you. 

  1. Announcing their arrival: Whether you go the traditional route and send out physical birth announcements from your newborn session or find yourself just simply announcing via social media, newborn pictures always make it much more special. Prints and albums of the baby photos also make wonderful gifts for excited-new grandparents who love to brag about the new addition to the family.
  2. Documenting their growth:  You’ll never believe how fast they grow and change until you see it for yourself. I hear it from parents all time- “I can’t believe how much they changed!” Later on down the line, it will be nice to compare all the photos from each of their milestones to see how much they’ve grown in just one short year- so why not start with capturing their first few weeks of life!
  3. Documenting your family for the first time: The newborn photos are a great chance to take some of your first family portraits. The photos from this session usually consist of family photos, each parent with baby and/or siblings, and of course baby by themselves. These are photos you’ll cherish, as it records your first experience as a family in your beloved home (a great way to incorporate your fur babies!!) This is also the chance to archive all the everyday moments you’re experiencing, like feeding and soothing the baby.
  4. Capturing their little details: This is usually the photo session that really focuses on all the little details. Their little tiny feet, the blanket loving made for them, a hand-me-down outfit, what their nursery looks like- these are all important details that you’ll want to have as a memory for not only you but for your little one. 
a collage of 3 images. The first and 3rd image show a married couple and their newborn and it takes place on a queen bed in a white bedroom. The 1st photo, the mother is holding her son as both parents look into the camera smiling. The third photo the dad is smiling, looking at his family as the mother and son lay on the bed looking at lone another. The second image shows the baby asleep in his wooden crib, and his pants bodies behind the crib, watching him.

Milestone 3: 6-9 Month Shoot -Classic Baby / Sitter Session

There is a family standing in a park during the autumn season, with beautiful fall foliage as their background. The father is standing on the left holding his 9 month old son's hand, while the mother is standing on the right, holding her sons other hand. The parents are looking down at their baby smiling, while the son looks into the camera smiling and taking a step forward.

While not the most well-known stage this one is quickly becoming my favorite. This period of time in your baby’s first year is when their developing personalities really get a chance to shine. It’s a nice little check-in before the last big milestone of their first year, where you get to document all the little things about them that might change over the years. They’re showing more emotions and facial expressions- which always makes for cute silly photos and they’re much more active in the session compared to the newborn photos. Before lifestyle newborn photography came around this was typically considered the first stage to photograph a baby in their first year.

  1. Growing Personality: This is around the time that your baby starts to have a little bit of personality and loves to explore their surroundings. What do they love? What do they hate? What are their cute little quirks?
  2. Time of Change: The 6-9 months mark is when all the exciting little moments start happening. Your baby is starting to sit up and crawl on their own and become a little more active and aware of their surroundings. These are the little things that you’ll cherish forever and want to look back on. 
  3. Almost at the finish line: This time period is a great opportunity to update your first-year baby photos. They’re still actively growing and changing, so they will look much older than compared to their newborn photos, while still also looking younger than how they will look at their 1-year milestone that will follow in the next coming months. 
a collage of 3 images, all taking place in a park in the fall. The first shows a mother helping her son learn to walk as she looks into the camera smiling. The second photo shows the same baby, now crawling in the orange fall foliage. The last photo is of a father, holding the son as he kisses his cheek.

Milestone 4: The Cake / Dessert Smash – Dare we call it a finish line?

a collage of 3 images, show a baby sitting on a marble island all in a modern kitchen. the first photo is of a baby stuffing cake into his mouth as he looks into the camera. There is a blue cake stand in front of him that holds a yellow & white cake that has the number one on it. The 2nd photo is a close up of the same baby, as he reaches for the camera. There are cake crumbs all over his mouth. The last  photo show the baby now absolutely covered in cake. He is looking into the camera, as a pile of cake sits between his feet.

Cake smash photos are always so fun for everyone involved! It’s such a fun way to celebrate this special occasion and commemorate how much your little one has grown in just one year. Keep in mind we don’t always have to use cake- we can smash and get messy with any food your baby loves to accommodate preferences and allergies. 

  1. Give yourself a pat on the back: A baby’s first birthday is a special milestone- after all, you made it a whole year! Smashing some sweets is a fun and memorable way to celebrate. 
  2. Sharing with friends and family: Cake/dessert smash photos can be a fun way to share your child’s first birthday celebration with friends and family who may live far away or not attend any celebrations.  You can share the images on social media or via email to spread the joy and excitement of this fun (albeit a little messy) turning point.
  3. Free Seratonin boost: I know for me personally- this is the most fun part of a Belly to Birthday journey. Ending our last of 4 sessions with nothing but smiles, giggles, and sugar- a most sweet ending. 

Cake Smashes may seem a little stressful and chaotic, but there are so many ways you can start to plan/anticipate them! I offer some tips and things to keep in mind in my Cake Smash Blog.

collage of 3 photos. the first is a smiling baby looking into the camera. he is sitting on a white rug, while wearing a burnt orange sweater that says "Jack". The 2nd photo shows the same baby being held by his mother. They're looking at one another laughing. The 3rd photo shows the baby & both of his parents on the white rug. The baby is holding onto his crib while looking at his parents. The parents are both trying to get his attention by laughing & making faces.


Overall, photographing all the important moments of your child’s life before they turn one is important because it allows you to capture the milestones, memories, and emotions of this special time and create a lasting legacy for your family. With the Belly to Birthday package, you will receive four photo sessions: maternity, newborn, 6-9 months, and a 1st birthday/cake or dessert smash. Along with the four sessions, you will also receive a complimentary cake for your 1st birthday/dessert smash session as well as discounts after each session. (Thank you Frosted Fox for the assist!) If a cake doesn’t work for you there are also vegan dessert options available. If you are on the fence about what kind / how much documentation you need in the first year I always recommend The Belly to Birthday package, especially for first-time parents. Time flies by so fast in that first year and you don’t want to blink and miss a single moment. 

If you’re interested in booking your Belly to Birthday, contact me and we can discuss any questions you may have! 🙂

collage of 4 photos. the first shows a couple. the husband is standing behind his pregnant wife. they're looking at each other smiling, with their hands resting on her belly. The 2nd image shows a swaddled sleeping newborn boy. the 3rd image is of the same baby, now 9 months old, learning how to walk in a park, while his mother holds him up. He is looking up at the camera. The last photo is of the same family, in a nursery. Both parents are on either side of the baby as they hold him. All 3 are smiling looking into the camera.

Check out my Philly Blog Stories to find more 1st Year Milestone inspiration!

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