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Toddler Tuesday: Photo Shoots with Big Sib

Maternity and newborn photography captures some of the most special moments in a family’s life. But these photo shoots can become tricky with toddlers. For starters, for most firstborns this is one of, if not, the first time in their lives that they are not the stars of the show. Or maybe they are shy with new people. Plus listening to directions can be, um, a challenge. These tips help your toddler have a great time at your maternity and newborn shoots. After all, being the big sister or brother is a very important job!

Choose a photographer who knows kids. Working with and understanding children is truly an art. Unlike adults, posing kids works best when it’s more of a game than a list of directions. Photographers who focus on children and newborns will have the skills to interact and connect with children so that they capture your child’s personality at this point in his or her life.

Meet the photographer. If your photographer does a pre-consultation before your shoot, ask if they would be willing to meet your toddler. Shy children will feel more comfortable on the day of the shoot. Even if children aren’t shy, I like to have a “mini play date” with them so they get to know me and learn that I’m a lot of fun. Learning about the older sibling’s personality and interests helps me plan for the shoot.

Share your child’s favorite things. Help your photographer connect with your toddler by sharing their interests prior to the shoot. Knowing a child’s interests help me ask questions that I know will get a response, whether it’s speaking, laughter or movement. Do you like to sing Happy Birthday? Let's sing it! Do you do ballet? Show me a turn! Do you have a new pet fish? Can you show me how to feed the fish? I’ve even sung “Let it Go” and I am horrible singer. But did it work? Yes it did!

Build in show off time. If you have a little ham who loves the camera let him/her be the star for a little while. I like to work with toddlers alone or with another parent during newborn shoots when your newborns is feeding or settling down.

Get someone to help out. Are grandma and grandpa in town for a visit? Not only is this a great opportunity to get a photo of the whole family, they can do something special with the big brother or sister when they aren’t in the shots.

Get a good nap, but get out some energy before. If you are doing an outdoor maternity session go to the park before your session. During family sessions I don’t mind chasing a toddler, but during a maternity or newborn shoot, there’s not as much room to move so get out that energy beforehand.

Need a little bribe? Your toddler may need a little bribe to wear the outfit you picked out or pose with his/her sibling. Try to wait until after the shoot to deliver, but if you must break out a treat, be sure to avoid lollipops or anything with dye that might turn their teeth and mouth a different color.

Communicate with your photographer about the images you really want. Make sure your photographer knows what you are really looking for. I don’t need to tell you that toddlers don’t always cooperate. If that sibling shot isn’t working out, and a family image is suffices for you, let your photographer know. Luckily photographers can create a composite image that combines two images. So maybe your child isn’t interested in the basket when his or her new brother and sister is inside, but maybe when a toy is inside it’s pretty special.

Relax and enjoy! Children quickly grow and change and everyday is a special day.

Photography by Bridget Eldridge Photography.

Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

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Why do all of my good parenting or baby-focused inventions come after they've already been invented by someone else? Sigh.

Like the Puj hug hooded baby towel, aka the handiest, softest cotton towel ever created.

Safely removing a wet, slippery baby from the bath can be totally nerve-wracking, and trying to hold onto a towel at the same time without soaking it in the process seems to require an extra arm altogether. It's no wonder so much water ends up on the floor, the countertops, or you(!) after bathing your little one. Their splashing and kicking in the water is beyond adorable, of course, but the clean up after? Not as much.

It sounds simple: Wash your child, sing them a song or two, let them play with some toys, then take them out, place a towel around them, and dry them off. Should be easy, peasy, lemon squeezy, right?

But it hasn't been. It's been more—as one of my favorite memes says—difficult, difficult, lemon difficult. Because until this towel hit the bathtime scene, there was no easy-peasy way to pick up your squirming wet baby without drenching yourself and/or everything around you.

Plus, there is nothing cuter than a baby in a plush hooded towel, right? Well, except when it's paired with a dry, mess-free floor, maybe.

Check out our favorites to make bathtime so much easier:

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The Social Security Administration has released its list of the top baby names of this decade. The SSA analyzed data for nine of the 10 years in the 2010s to figure out the 200 most popular names for babies since 2010 (that's over 35 million babies).

For boys, Noah got the top spot, with almost as many Noahs being born as there are people in Jackson, Mississippi. That's right, this generation created enough Noahs to fill a city! On the girls' side, Emma is the top name. We created enough Emmas to fill Rancho Cucamonga, California.

Like Noah and Emma, most of the names are classics, with a few more modern names (hi, Jayden!) entering the top 200.

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