I feel a tad guilty telling my parents that I will treat their toddlers or older children as I would a dog at their newborn session. It’s funny which does elicit a giggle and an agreeing nod as we continue discussing the parallels of these sweet creatures who try as hard as then can to live out their days on their own terms.
Depending on your child’s age, when you bring your newborn home, there’s either a feeling of excitement or apathy. For those first few days there may be a lot of interest and willingness to be involved in all things baby. The newness outshines the fact that they now share a spotlight with this new person.
As soon as I walk in the door I give all my attention to your first born, getting on their level and letting them know how much fun we are going to have that day. I ask if they can show me their new little brother or sister which stirs up excitement about the baby and thus, the party begins!
Once they’ve given me a proper tour of their home including their own room and all of their favorite toys, I let them know we are going to take pictures of their baby. Often times they will sit and watch for a short time and then off to the toy bin they go. They come and go as they please unless there’s a tantrum and easy peasy, I just ask one parent to take them to another room, giving them a break from all things photos and little snack. Nothing cures the grumps like a handful of Goldfish. They return later, if they want, with a full belly and fresh excitement.
When I’m photographing the baby on their own, I gladly allow older children to play in the room with us. As they entertain themselves they are also very aware of what is happening. They watch as mommy holds the baby in the rocking chair and will often mimic these actions when they are ready to hold the baby.
I never force older kids to hold a baby for a photo. Have you seen a toddler push a baby off their lap? It’s terrifying. When they’re done, they. Are. Done. And that’s okay. I listen to what the child wants and let them know it’s okay if they don’t want to do something. There are other ways of getting beautiful shots of your babes together.
I will often lay a newborn on a bed, swaddled-up nice and cozy, and ask the older child to show me where Baby’s nose is or if they can touch their nose to the baby’s nose. I make it a game. I make it about them. And they love it!
Photographing the entire family is probably one of the most fun parts of these sessions with older siblings. I’ve got all kinds of games and tricks up my sleeve that tend to go over really well, especially when one parent takes on the role of playmate. Attention, attention, attention! They are having the most fun without being forced to take a picture, which creates the best, most authentic family photos.
And when the only thing your child wants to do is roll around on the floor, we get down there and roll around with them. Again, we get on their level. And these photos are so much fun and so out of the box. They are some of my favorites to take!
So if you’re worried about your older kid or kiddos not cooperating during your upcoming newborn session, I have great news for you! You don’t have to manage your children at all. That’s my job! Kids don’t respond well to mom and dad forcing them to do everything I ask anyway. So the pressure’s off! I just want you to love on your littles when they put their natural selves in front of my camera.