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Newborn and Toddler Photography: How to Keep Kids Happy and Engaged During Family Photography

Delaware beach family photographer

As a Delaware family photographer, I’ve worked with all sorts of children and adults. Of all my sessions, any newborn and toddler photography definitely ranks as some of my trickiest sessions. At the same time, newborns and toddlers are by far some of my favorite clients to photograph.

Don't worry! Even if you have a rambunctious toddler, you can still get incredible family photos. All it takes is preparation, patience, and a talented photographer.

If you have an upcoming family photography session, let’s talk about how you can best prepare the littlest models for a successful session.

1. Perfecting Toddler Photography: Choosing the Right Time of Day

Delaware beach family photographer

When scheduling my Delaware family photography sessions, I always ask the parents when the littlest models will be at their best. Just like adults, newborns and toddlers have certain times of day they prefer. Is your toddler an early riser? Let’s start the day with an 8am session. Do you routinely struggle to get your toddler out of bed in time for daycare? Try to go with a 5pm session instead.

Some photographers will only book at the optimal lighting times. I suggest the times that will work best with lighting, but I ultimately leave it up to the parents. You can deal with harsh sun, but you can’t photoshop a happy face onto a child that spends the whole session miserable. If the optimal lighting times contradict and overlap with naptimes, tell your photographer. You want your toddler to feel rested and refreshed, not cranky and upset.

If your photographer remains adamant that the timing cannot be changed, they aren’t the photographer for you. Of course, don’t expect that you’ll get that golden hour glow in photos shot at 3pm. But picking a session time where all family members will be happiest supersedes the ideal lighting time in my book.

2. Newborn and Toddler Photography: To Nap or Not to Nap

You know your child better than anyone else does. How does your newborn or toddler feel after a nap? Do they jump right back up and zoom into playtime? Or do they feel groggy and cranky right after they wake up? With newborns at family photography sessions, having them nap in the car on the way to the session usually sets them up for success. Newborn portraits are a different story; for that, you want them asleep for the session itself. But when you’re scheduling family photos, having them nap before can keep them calm and attentive during the shoot.

As a Delaware family photographer, I’ve found that toddlers that nap in the car on the way to the shoot are quite cranky afterwards. It normally takes toddlers a little bit longer to readjust to being present in the world after a nap. They usually don’t love having a stranger tell them to smile before they’ve fully acclimatized to being awake again.

So definitely make sure your toddler gets their nap in before their family photo session. Just make sure that nap doesn’t happen in the car!

Of course, your toddler might be the exception to the rule. Maybe they’re best behaved right after they wake up. If so, let them get that car nap in before the session.