Newborn photo sessions are a special time for parents and their eldest child. Preparing older kids, particularly a toddler, for a London newborn photography session can be tricky, but it’s important to make sure they are ready and excited.
A very common concern that parents have about a professional newborn session: what if my toddler doesn’t “cooperate”?
I wrote this blog post to share some practical tips on how to prepare your older child (or children) for your newborn photoshoot. And to reassure you that everything is going to be OK!
What to do before your London newborn photography session
Talk to your child about the experience during your newborn session to get your toddler excited
I recommend talking to your child often about the session to help your child to anticipate and get excited about the experience.
Describe what it looks like to have their portraits taken: a friend taking their pictures; smiling, hugging, spending time together, playing, having fun; following directions, such as sitting, and standing.
Let your child know that he or she will be in some of the photos with the new baby. And that your child will be helping to take care of the baby during the session.
But it is also important to let your child know that there will also be a part of the session where it will be for mom and dad with the new baby only. And that during this time your child will have something else special to do. Like this your older child won’t be feeling left out.
Bonus tip: it is better to refer to your newborn photographer as mom’s “friend” as your child will feel safer around a family friend versus a completely stranger.
Involve your child in the preparation for your newborn session
You can take your child shopping for any special clothes or accessories, either for your eldest or for the new baby.
When choosing your child’s outfit, offer your child 2-3 options of outfits that meet the “what to wear” suggestions from your photographer. And then let your child choose his or her favorite.
Ask for your child’s help when tidying up around the home before your session as this will help your child to anticipate the experience with excitement.
Choose a photographer whose photography approach is relaxing and stress-free
There are different shooting styles when it comes to London newborn photography. As a mom of two little children and a photographer, I personally find that the lifestyle or documentary approach works really well with young children, particularly toddlers.
This approach is relaxed and places no pressure on children to behave in a certain way. Posing during portraits are usually done through fun games and prompts that allow your child to feel free to express his or her true personality.
So, my number 1 advice of what to search in a newborn photographer is someone who takes (by default) a child-led approach and follows your child’s needs throughout the session.
If you’re still trying to choose the best newborn photographer for your family, this blog post will give you plenty of information on what to look for during your search.
Plan the time before and after the photoshoot
It is best not to make any disruptions to your child’s routine the days leading up to the session. And to ensure your child is rested and fed before the photographer arrives at your home or you go to the studio.
I also recommend for you to plan a special activity to do with your child for after the session. Suggestions may include going out for ice cream, watching a favorite cartoon, playing a board game, baking a cake, or doing anything special that your child loves to do with you. This will help your child to feel loved, connected to you and as special as the little sibling.
Show your child his or her own baby photos
Talk to your child about the importance of pictures and how it’s important to capture these special moments with the new baby.
Spend time together looking at photos together and showing what they will be doing during the session to help your child to know what to expect from the experience.
Ways to help your child during your newborn session
Keep realistic expectations
Try not to expect too much from your child during the session. You want your child to have fun and enjoy spending time with the new baby without feeling pressure about behaving perfectly for the camera.
Young children are not usually fond of being told to pose or smile. Crying and tantrums are a normal part of working with these tiny people during a photo session, regardless if it is a newborn photography session or a regular family photoshoot.
So, be ready for those “uncooperative” behaviors. Just keep it calm and joyful. And smile a lot. Your child will follow your lead.
It might also be helpful to have a special lovey or any other source of comfort set aside in case needed.
Ask for your child’s help during the session
Young children love to help and feel useful. So, when talking about the session day, let your child know that his or her help is very important!
Think about special jobs you might ask your child to do during the session, such as catching the diapers, holding hands with the little baby, “reading” a story to help sooth baby, etc. This will make your child feel important and involved.
And remember to offer plenty of praise and words of encouragement during the session when your child helps you.
Make it fun
Make your newborn session a fun experience for your child by letting him or her choose what games to play, read a new book, eat a special treat, or even watch a special cartoon. Have backup activities ready for when you need to have your child playing independently so you can get some of those images with the new baby.
Give your child attention
Make sure to give your older children plenty of attention during and after the photoshoot. Let your child know how much he or she is still important and loved.
During the session, encourage your child to gently show affection to his or her baby sibling. Displays of love between siblings is a beautiful thing to capture on camera! Encourage your child to play with the baby’s hands and feet, touch nose or cheek, and give lots of hugs and kisses.