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Let the light in: 3 expert tips for taking incredible newborn photos at home

Nicki Sebastian's stunning photography has appeared nearly everywhere from J. Crew to Honest Company, BMW to Rebecca Minkoff. But it's her work capturing the most precious of subjects—newborn babies—that really blows us away. ?


Here are her top 3 tips for taking amazing photos of your little one in your home:

1. Focus on the lighting.

This is a big driver in photography in general. It's what I look for as soon as I walk into a home to photograph a family regardless of the age of the child. All of the artificial lights go off and we look for great window light.

If you have a room with great natural light, or even if there's a little stream of light coming through a window, that's a why we use the natural light. That's the most flattering, and that gets the most emotion depending on the day you can have soft lighting, if it's overcast you can have nice streaming backlit glowy light if it's a nice and sunny day.

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Lighting is what drives my whole portfolio and is something that even amateur photographers can use to their advantage.

Keeping baby near a window or in a room with natural light and with all of the lights off is key.

You can make a photo look different in so many ways depending on how it's lit.

2. Let your little one's mood take the lead

Especially with little ones, if anything's too forced to get a perfect shot, they respond in the opposite way.

The little ones need breaks, they need to have a snack, they need to be soothed. Creating a sense of calm is really important. Taking your time and letting their mood drive the shoot or the moment when they're taking photos. If they're not into it, don't force it.

The great moments you ultimately do capture, then, are absolutely real and genuine—but it does take some time.

All babies are different and they're different every day. You never know what mood you're going to get. You can always work with what you've got as long as you have some patience.

Unlike a professional photographer who is only at your house for a set amount of time, as a parent, you have the advantage of catching your son or daughter when they're in the right mood. So wait it out, and have the camera ready to go when your baby is.

3. Don't focus on getting a perfect smiling photo.

What I love about photographing little ones are their looks of wonder, their worried looks, their content looks, their curious faces, their focused faces, their blissful faces.

The older we get the more self aware we become and when there's a camera in front of us we're focused on smiling. . . little children are uninhibited.

For the most part, when I get the camera out I try to get down to the level of the child, play with them, interact with them, and entertain them. It's about gaining their trust and allowing them to be completely themselves.

If they're not up for smiling, that's totally fine. You can just just as beautiful photos out of their range of emotion.

Capturing any mood or emotion and seeing the beauty in all kinds of expression is what I love.

+ a bonus tip from Nicki: I love the Vsco editing app for the iPhone. I'll heighten the contrast and will apply a very simply focus to give it a little pop, but other than that, that's it.

It's super user friendly.

I know professional photographers who use it and I know everyday moms who use it. Its really simple and quick and it does an effective job at giving the image an extra oomph.

Nicki Sebastian is a baby, child, family, and wedding photographer based in Brooklyn, New York.

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These are the best bath time products you can get for under $20

These budget-friendly products really make a splash.

With babies and toddlers, bath time is about so much more than washing off: It's an opportunity for fun, sensory play and sweet bonding moments—with the added benefit of a cuddly, clean baby afterward.

Because bathing your baby is part business, part playtime, you're going to want products that can help with both of those activities. After countless bath times, here are the products that our editors think really make a splash. (Better yet, each item is less than $20!)

Comforts Bath Wash & Shampoo

Comforts Baby Wash & Shampoo

Made with oat extract, this bath wash and shampoo combo is designed to leave delicate skin cleansed and nourished. You and your baby will both appreciate the tear-free formula—so you can really focus on the bath time fun.

Munckin Soft Spot Bath Mat

Munchkin slip mat

When your little one is splish-splashing in the bath, help keep them from also sliding around with a soft, anti-slip bath mat. With strong suction cups to keep it in place and extra cushion to make bath time even more comfortable for your little one, this is an essential in our books.

Comforts Baby Lotion

Comforts baby lotion

For most of us, the bath time ritual continues when your baby is out of the tub when you want to moisturize their freshly cleaned skin. We look for lotions that are hypoallergenic, nourishing and designed to protect their skin.

The First Years Stack Up Cups

First year stack cups

When it comes to bath toys, nothing beats the classic set of stackable cups: Sort them by size, practice pouring water, pile them high—your little one will have fun with these every single bath time.

Comforts Baby Oil

Comforts baby oil

For dry skin that needs a little extra TLC, our team loves Comforts' fast-absorbing baby oil aloe vera and vitamin E. Pro tip: When applied right after drying off your baby, the absorption is even more effective.

KidCo Bath Toy Organizer

KidCo Bath Organizer

Between bathing supplies, wash rags, toys and more, the tub sure can get crowded in a hurry. We like that this organizer gives your little one space to play and bathe while still keeping everything you need within reach.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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It’s science: Vacations make your kids happy long after they’re over

Whether you're planning a quick trip to the lake or flying the fam to a resort, the results are the same: A happier, more connected family.

Whether you're looking for hotels or a rental home for a safe family getaway, or just punching in your credit card number to reserve a spot in a campground a couple of states over, the cost of vacation plans can make a mom wince. And while price is definitely something to consider when planning a family vacation, science suggests we should consider these trips—and their benefits—priceless.

Research indicates that family vacations are essential. They make our, kids (and us) happier and build bonds and memories.

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Chrissy Teigen/Instagram

When Chrissy Teigen announced her third pregnancy earlier this year we were so happy for her and now our hearts are with her as she is going through a pain that is unimaginable for many, but one that so many other mothers know.

Halfway through a high-risk pregnancy complicated by placenta issues, Teigen announced late Wednesday that she has suffered a pregnancy loss.

Our deepest condolences go out to Chrissy and her husband, John Legend (who has been by her side in the hospital for several days now).

In a social media post, Teigen explained she named this baby Jack.

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"We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we've never felt before. We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn't enough," she wrote.

She continued: "We never decide on our babies' names until the last possible moment after they're born, just before we leave the hospital. But we, for some reason, had started to call this little guy in my belly Jack. So he will always be Jack to us. Jack worked so hard to be a part of our little family, and he will be, forever."

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