You’re so excited when you find out that you’re expecting once again – a playmate, a best friend for your little one(s)! I absolutely love capturing that special bond in the family – the sibling bond! As a mom who had a 2 year old when my second was born I also understand the pressure and nerves around incorporating your toddler or older kids in the photos. Today I wanted to share 5 tips for including siblings in your newborn photography session.
1. Prepare but don’t overwhelm them
There is a fine line, especially with toddlers or sensitive older siblings between feeling prepared and feeling overwhelmed. I usually say that it’s a good idea to talk to kids about what to expect from the photoshoot but skip pushing that they smile or behave. Kids can practically smell anxiety and will often feed off that energy. If you’re anxious or stressed about the photoshoot, they can often take on the same emotions.
Instead spend some time talking about what they’ll wear, how cozy the space will be or how much you are looking forward to capturing these sweet moments. You can practice holding the baby (with supervision of course!).
In the studio we will do our best to make the sibling feel important and included. We’ll get those natural smiles by playing games or being extra silly.
2. Make sure everyone is rested and full
One of the most simple ways to prepare older siblings for success is to make sure that they are well rested and their bellies are full! Nothing ruins a toddler’s mood faster than a rumbling belly. (I would argue that the same is true for the adults too).
For younger kids it might be helpful to bring along a toy that makes them smile – but try to skip their very favorite one as they may not want to let it go. I love anything that makes a surprising noise or squeaks.
For older siblings a book to read or a puzzle may help them feel calm. Do try to avoid pulling out devices such as iPad or phone with their favorite show until after the photoshoot is done. It completely depends on each personality, but I often find it hard to turn those off once they’re on without a major meltdown.
3. Start with family photos
Sometimes it takes kids a little while to warm up and that’s OK! We will often start by taking some photos of mom and dad with the baby and show siblings that there is indeed no harm being done with the camera. LOL
I also like to start with family photos and even letting the young siblings “hold” the baby with the help of mom and dad. Incorporating everyone often makes the siblings feel safe and included. It lets us establish a good feeling before as ask something more of them.
If the sibling is simply too young or does not want to hold the baby alone, we can use mom and dad as a safety net, both mentally and physically. A few close up shots with mom and dad as a backdrop rather than the main focus help create those beautiful sibling photos even if your kids do not want to take solo shots.
4. Bribery can work too
While I do not recommend starting with bribery, this can be an effective method to get them to pull through at the end.
As a general rule I do try to keep the sibling portion of the photoshoot brief and allow for lots of breaks if they are needed. This takes the pressure off the kids to constantly be “on.” However, if they’re pretty much done with me at the end and I’m still working on that “one more perfect sibling shot” I love to offer up a lollipop or a tiny m&m (with the parent permissions).
With older kids a reward at the end can be something to look forward to. It can be something as simple as playing on the playground when the photoshoot is completed or grabbing a lunch out.
That being said, I’ve also offered to pay my (11 and 8) year olds $5 to act like sane people during our family photos. So to each his or her own. (and if you’re wondering – yes, it worked).
5. And if all that doesn’t work, there’s photoshop
I was once asked by a mom at a photoshoot how it is that I get everyone to smile simultaneously during a photoshoot. And while yes, that’s totally possible, other times all it takes is some photoshop.
For larger families or quick moving toddlers I will spend time paying attention that I have at least one good shot of each person in a single setup (with similar angle/distance/etc) so that I know I am able to pull those images together later on to create one perfect image.
For toddlers that just refuse to sit with a baby, I’ve been know to put their favorite snack in a bucket and then photoshop the baby into the image later. Hey, it’s not ideal but it works!
At the end of the day I know that all you want is that adorable image of your little ones together, preferably not crying.
So there you have it, my 5 tips for including siblings in your newborn photography session.
Do you have any tips I could add? Leave them in the comments below!
MADISON CT NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHER INFORMATION
With over 9 years experience working with newborn babies and families, Catherine King photography is one of the best newborn photographers in CT. The newborn photography studio is located in Madison, CT and serves New Haven county, Middlesex county, New London county. Catherine King Photography serves nearby areas including CT, RI, NJ, NY, and MA as well.
In Madison, CT, you’ll be greeted by a warm, cozy space with everything you’ll need. Enjoy a warm cup of coffee (or decaf!) and relax in a comfy chair. Your newborn baby will be in good hands.
Each newborn session is planned and customized with coordinated setups and latest props. The only thing you’ll need to bring is yourselves! The studio is stocked with bonnets, wraps, headbands, and gorgeous layers. Forgot diapers or wipes? No worries, we’ve got those too. you don’t need to bring a thing unless you want to.
Safety and comfort of the baby is always the number one priority. I am up to date with all latest required vaccines and take extreme care to keep the space clean and germ-free. While I will have a workflow planned to guide your baby through a variety of poses with the least amount of disturbance, I will also take cues from the baby when they need a break for an extra snuggle or a feeding.
Want to learn a little more? Check out these newborn photography sessions or view the newborn portfolio page. Ready to pick your package and book your own family session? Fill out this brief contact form.