I Stained My Baby Yellow | 5 Things I Wish I Knew About Milk Bath Photography
Milk Bath Photography has always been popular for maternity shoots, but more and more I've been seeing baby shoots crop up. It's plastered over Pinterest, and each image I came across seemed unique and beautiful in there own right. In my mind it would be easy, milk bath photography would be done by filling a bath with water and baby milk powder, then personalizing with different amounts of flowers or greenery to add a little something to the shot. It seemed simple, and having read Katie's post on capturing young babies, I felt I was more than able to capture the image I had in mind, and have a fun little experience with Harrison. Had I bothered to research more, I may have found that there can be a lot more to milk bath shoots than meet the eye, and it was maybe not going to be quite this simple. Whilst it all started off well enough, it very quickly went downhill. We had a bouquet of flowers left over from Mothers Day, a full tub of baby milk that Harrison never liked, and a bathtub - little did I know I would end our morning with a yellow baby, a smelly bath-tub and an overwhelming desire for a glass of wine. This could have all been made slightly easier, had I known a few key things before.
1// IF YOUR BABY IS HUNGRY, DO NOT PUT HIM IN A BATH FILLED WITH FOOD
This is obvious and I don't know why it never clicked, but if someone was to put me in a bath full of chocolate, or custard, or ice cream, right before I'm due my lunch, then damn right I'm probably going to have a taste. Don't expect your baby to be any different. We ran the bath just enough to cover his dignity and have the milk bath effect, leaving it empty enough that he could lie freely by himself without being held. This was all fine until Harrison had a slight taste of what he was bathing in, at which point stopping a mischievous 6 month old baby from dunking his mouth in the hope of an early meal time was a task. Had it only been milk in the bath, sure, dunk away little one - add in some week old stewing flowers and I'd really rather he wasn't drinking his surroundings....
2 // IF YOUR BABY IS A BABY, DON'T PUT HIM IN A BATH FULL OF FLOWERS
Anyone who has had a baby will know that absolutely everything and anything goes in the mouth: a fist, a fork, a fish, if he can grab it, he'll have it in his mouth in seconds. Imagine then filling a tub with hundreds of bright colorful new things to grab, and then trying to stop your baby from grabbing any of them. Put bluntly, it isn't going to happen. Harrison was in the milk bath for 15 minutes tops, 14 of those were spent trying to stop him from sticking various plants and flower heads in his mouth. (The other minute was the minute where-by we'd given him a rubber duck in an attempt to salvage any of the milk bath props.) I don't really think there is anyway around this, babies grab flowers, but thank the lord for extra hands around the bath, as with mine pre-occupied holding the camera, at least there were others there to stop Harrison from eating half of a flower bed. These other hands also came in handy for distraction purposes, but ultimately, the bright colors and bath full of food was more interesting, and getting my baby to look anywhere near the camera was a task. Note to self, use brightly colored toys behind camera next time.
If there ever is a next time that is.
3// IF YOU WANT FLOWERS IN YOUR FLOWERY IMAGE, PUT THEM IN LAST
Now this is news to me, but if you put flowers in a bath of liquid, they may just get soggy and sink, who would have thought the laws of physics would apply here also? I put the flowers in first so that I could get a rough idea of what the image would look like, but after a few minutes, the flowers had dropped slightly under the milky water. They were still bright enough to show through, but by the time Harrison was in and no longer trying to drink the milk, the flowers were below him and had clumped together in the bath, meaning I had lovely flowers at the top of the image, lovely flowers at the bottom of the image, and none in the middle, where my baby happened to be lying. Another key tip, baby first, flowers second.
4// IF YOU DON'T WANT A YELLOW BABY, DO NOT USE LILIES IN THE BATH
Here's where it really went downhill. Having roped my brother in as an extra pair of hands, he took great delight in letting me know Harrison had done a massive number two in the milky bath. The cloudy water meant that neither of us could see anything, but the yellow streaks on the underside of my baby's legs were the tell tale sign. My brother found it hilarious, but there is something oddly sinister about faeces and flowers floating beneath the surface. Our calm and serene shoot was cut short and I let the water out to try and search for a poo, secretly a little bit happy that we no longer had to fight to keep the plants out of a little mouth, a face out of the water and a baby smiling. It was over, but there was no poo to be found. Only at this point did it click that I hadn't even thought about the types of flowers I had put in the bath - piling in anything that looked nice, the water was filled with lilies, flowers notorious for staining skin yellow. I had turned my baby yellow. My serene, calm and happy photoshoot, had turned my baby yellow. My hands were discolored, my bath-tub an odd shade and my son looked like I had attacked him with a sharpie. My little oompa loompa was giggling away and it was hard not to laugh along with him. I am not a crafty mum, I do not belong on Pinterest and I'll be leaving the creative photoshoots to those who understand which flowers to bathe their child with and which to leave out. And mother of the year award goes to...
5// IF YOU DON'T WANT A SMELLY BATH, CLEAN IMMEDIATELY
This may seem obvious, but I didn't. When you have a baby who has had a tiny taste of milk and a hungry belly, holding off a feed to de-weed by bathtub isn't always the obvious option. Low and behold I managed to leave the lot stewing in there for around 3 hours, at which point the flowers were stinking, the bath was tinted and the floor in good need of a hoover to get rid of the petals. (At which point when I eventually got around to doing woke my child in the next room right up from a nap - not worth it, next time I'll leave the petals where they are). If your going to try a milk bath shoot, deal with the mess straight away, I can promise it'll be worth the moan of a hungry baby for ten minutes to prevent the smell of putrid milky flowers.
6// IF YOU DON'T WANT TO BE FINDING PETALS FOR THE REST OF THE DAY, JUST DON'T
I thought a normal bath after would do the trick, but for some reason, I'm still finding petals in crevices I never knew existed hours later. The petals are on my socks, in the toilet, around the sink, behind Harrison's ears. They are everywhere. If you don't want petals, just don't milk bath.
I wanted to believe a milk bath would be simple. A fun way to bond, to create memories and to do something a little different on a Monday morning. Pinterest made it look easy, serene and calming, it's hard not to look at milk bath pictures and believe it would be a fun activity. I'm not sure I'd use the word fun anymore. It kept me on my toes to say the least, but ultimately, left me in need of a glass of wine and a few more normal baths to de-yellow my son. Don't get me wrong, it was an experience in it's self. I can look back and laugh, and Harrison was happy as larry fighting for his time with the flowers. If it's showed me one thing though, it's showed me that I'm no Pinterest mum, that much is for sure. Please don't tell me I'm the only one who couldn't cope with a milk bath?