Environmental factors

Environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, noise level and air quality play a role in maintaining a safe environment for newborns and babies.

Temperature:  It is recommended that temperature of a newborn’s sleep environment remain between 20-22 degrees celsius. This is well below the significantly higher temperatures typically seen in the newborn studio. It is worth noting that overheating may also increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome in infants and that the use of wraps, clothing and props may increase overheating in newborns as well. For this reason, it is never recommended that the photographer use heating pads under blankets or space heaters pointed in the direction of the baby.  Heaters should be used to heat the general area instead. These last items may also lead directly to burns as newborns can develop “hot spots” in relation to resting on heating pads or from air blown directly at their skin. You should also avoid hot beverages and even hot water from sterilization units. A portable UV sterilizer can work as a suitable substitute when used appropriately following the manufacturers directions.

Humidity can also add to overheating as high humidity decreases the evaporation of sweat from the skin requiring more efficient use of sweat glands. The US EPA recommends a humidity index of 45-50 percent to avoid musty odors, mould problems and the spread of dust mites and other pests.

Noise can also act as an environmental irritant in the studio. The American Academy of Pediatrics states the hazardous zone for prolonged exposure (4 or more hours) to noise begins at a noise level of 80 dB with damage in newborn hearing occurring at prolonged exposures of 90 dB. It is a good idea to invest in a decibel meter to test the noise level where the baby’s ear would be located.

Air quality should also be a studio consideration. Often, walls and other items need repainting and paints and finishes can release low level toxic emissions into the air for years after application. The EPA recommends the use of eco-friendly paint for baby’s immediate environment. Essential oils can also act as allergens and as such, photographers should be careful regarding diffusing oils in studio.

On this note, photographers may wish to consider other common allergens and avoid their presence or use in studio. Nuts, pet hair / dander and even wool products may trigger symptoms such as red eyes, sniffling or eczema. Photographers either serving foods in studio or allowing the consumption of foods may wish to ask clients to keep the environment a nut free area. There are countless allergens that may trigger symptoms. Best practice would be to consult with clients regarding allergies prior to their visit to the studio and including allergen disclaimers to protect against accidental ingestion or reaction to a present allergen while in studio.


You have now completed this unit.