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.