Many moms are often concerned about how their older child, particularly their toddlers, will behave during the newborn photo session with the new baby brother or sister. In this post, I will give you some tips for including toddlers in the newborn photos and I’ll share some images from my photo sessions with children from 15 months to three years old, with their new baby siblings.
Getting photos of toddlers and newborns together happens to be one of my specialties. I have been photographing newborns for over twelve years and I have dealt with many toddlers that were not so sure about being close to the new baby. I think it also helps that I take a lifestyle/documentary approach to photographing babies and families. It is easier for me to capture images of them together when I am not posing everyone.
When a family brings home a new baby, the toddler can react in a few different ways. It may be love at first sight and they want to hold, kiss, snuggle and help care for the baby. Or they may have a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude and pretend to not really notice the baby.
Or there is a chance the toddler is not so gentle and maybe even a little bit aggressive towards the baby. (my brother, who was 18 months old at the time, may have slapped me the day my mom brought me home from the hospital!)
I mean, can you blame them? Mom just brought a new tiny human into the house that makes a lot of noise and takes Mom and Dads’ attention away from them. And toddlers are not usually able to use their words and not developmentally ready to sort out their very strong emotions!
Rest assured that I have a ton of patience and a few tricks up my sleeve so I always manage to get some photos of them together, even with the most difficult of toddlers. I do not even like to use the word difficult, but some toddlers are a little more apprehensive than others. And yes, I will still want to photograph through the not so cooperative moments!
Sometimes, toddlers are just over it quickly and we have to respect that! For some kids, it takes multiple attempts throughout the session and I have learned to never push them too much or too fast.
Please know that the safety of the baby is always my top priority. I would never force a small child to hold or lay close to a newborn baby if I felt the baby was in danger. If you have been around toddlers then you know they can be unpredictable and can flail about when they get upset, so I make sure the baby is always safe and I never make a child do anything they appear to be uncomfortable with.
Some toddlers do not like getting too close to the baby, but I can usually get them pretty close. One way to do this is by having Mom or Dad hold the baby while we encourage the toddler to come closer.
I often use prompts like…
“Can you help Mommy count the baby’s toes?”
“Can you tickle her feet?”
“Let’s see who has bigger feet, you or the baby?”
“Does the baby have stinky feet?”
Although a lot of moms would love to have an image of their older child kissing the baby, not all toddlers want to kiss the baby after we encourage them to do so, so I will ask them…
“What does the baby’s head smell like?”
“Does she smell like strawberries or bananas?”
Most of the time, this prompt will work to get your toddler close enough to appear to be kissing the baby on the head.
And honestly, I even love to capture the reality of the situation! Often a toddler will make a face like this when the baby is crying and I know the parents will still cherish this very real-life image!
This big brother was a little hesitant to get too close to his new sister but I knew how much it meant to Mom to have photos with the whole family together. So I made sure to have images of all four of them, even the dog and the cat, in the nursery together.
Although I can not always get a photo of a toddler “holding” the new baby, especially younger toddlers, I will have the parents hold both kids in their lap and help the toddler to “hold” the baby.
However, the moment the toddler shows signs of being done, like pushing them away, I make sure that we move the baby away. You have to quickly respect their words and their cues for being done.
Another suggestion is to wait a little longer to schedule your newborn session. Some photographers want to photograph your baby in the first two weeks, however, I always encourage my moms to wait a little longer. I want to ensure Mom has had time to recover from her labor and delivery, especially cesarean deliveries, and more time to readjust to life with a new baby. This also allows for your toddler to get a little more used to being around the new baby.
Usually, getting the whole family playing, cuddling, reading a book, etc. on the floor, couch, or bed together makes for great photos.
As a mom to three boys, I remember being pregnant with my second child and being consumed with so many worries about having my second child. The majority of my worries were thoughts like, will I love my second baby as much as the first!? Will my older child love and get along with his new baby brother?! And well, it depends on the kid…
My 1st son was 2.5 when his brother was born and it was love at first sight. My second son on the other hand, who was four when I had my third baby, told us, “I don’t like the noises he makes!” and “Can we put him back in your belly?”. =D
However, I was still able to safely capture some photos of them together. Ok, I may have bribed him with a lollipop… I am not big on bribes, but sometimes they are necessary. However, please never threaten your toddler to cooperate. This will most likely backfire and make me a little uncomfortable as well.
During your newborn session, I always include a bunch of photos with just your toddler by themselves! I love to give them their own undivided attention during our session. I often do this when the parents are feeding or changing the baby.
And since your session takes place in the comfort of your home, it is more than ok to allow your toddler to have snacks and drinks while I am there! Sometimes this is all it takes to keep them happy!
Parents of a newborn and a toddler have more than enough to worry about, so the last thing you need to be thinking about is how your toddler will behave for the photo session! So no worries, I got this!
Have a look at some blog posts to see more toddler and newborn sibling photos!
I’d love to connect with you over on Instagram!
Do you have questions or concerns about a photo session?
Are you expecting a new baby this year?
Please get in touch to ask me anything or to book your session!
You can learn more about my newborn sessions here,
and go have a look at my newborn gallery!
~All images by Mary Beth Miller Photography ~
Mary Beth Miller Photography has over twelve years of experience and specializes in lifestyle newborn photography in Pittsburgh PA and many of the surrounding areas.