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Tips for Newborn Sessions with Siblings

So you had another baby…

Congratulations! You’re likely in a whirlwind of managing older kiddos & adapting to life again with a newborn. It can be totally overwhelming! I will encourage you to savor this season, though. It will be gone in the blink of an eye! If you’re thinking about having a newborn session with your new addition (which you totally should!) I wanted to share a few tips on sessions with older siblings!

For this post, I’m going to focus on newborns with an older sibling in the 1.5-4 years old range. Photographing this combo of newborn + toddler is all sorts of crazy, but also all kinds of wonderful! Their little personalities come out in different ways, and I love hearing the parents’ stories about how things were different or the same with their second. I love seeing how older siblings interact with the new baby. There are some seriously precious moments that happen (and some funny ones, too!)

How to Prepare

If I haven’t photographed the older sibling before, it can be helpful to say things like “our friend Meredith is coming over to take some pictures!” This will help with stranger danger, and get them excited for the session. This is also a great reason to do maternity photos with your second – So they can get comfortable! But don’t worry – I’ll do my best to win them over either way 🙂

I’m gonna keep it real with you – I am not above bribes haha! It often works well to have a special treat for them that they know ahead of time so they can have their best listening ears on. You can give special treats during the session as well – just avoid things that are particularly messy or may stain their faces/outfits (Oreos, juice, etc). Other tips to prepare include having two outfit options for them to choose between so they can feel some ownership of how they will participate in the session!

What to Expect

During a newborn session, I like to take pictures of just the older sibling, too. This helps them warm up to me, feel special and more comfortable. This session is also a “growing” session for them! Capturing their age & personality when their baby sibling joined the family. This can also be a way to utilize our time while baby is being fussy, nursing or being changed.

In a lot of ways, I let the toddler run the show. If they need to take a break, have a meltdown, have a snack, run laps around the house, that is totally fine! This, combined with newborn needs are why sessions with older siblings can last a little longer – about 1.5-2 hours. When the older sibling needs a break is also a great time to take photos of just the newborn! If your toddler has a meltdown, or your session feels totally chaotic – I want you to know that that is normal & you’re not alone!

Photos of Just Siblings Together

It is definitely a goal to make a photo of just the kiddos together happen. But it can be tricky! We can try multiple times throughout the session. The three options that work best for getting them together are:

  1. A supported hold – propping toddler arms & baby on pillows or couch
  2. Laying down on their backs with their faces next to each other, shooting from overhead
  3. Laying baby on the bed and asking toddler to prop up next to / behind baby, shooting from in front

If one or the other is simply not having it, I can also get a nice cropped shot of them while they are in your laps, etc.! We’re all about flexibility, patience & happy faces here 🙂

Say Cheese!

Try to avoid saying things like “look at the camera and smile” – If over-used, this can have the opposite effect and lead to a lot of shots with that “toddler smile” we all know well! My goal is to capture authentic emotions and natural smiles. Playing games, tickles and making funny noises is a much better strategy to try!

Let me worry about how your kiddo is doing – you can focus on instructions, too! And remember to smile! A lot of times parents forget that their faces may be in the shot! 🙂

Relax & have fun!

Newborn sessions with older siblings are all about capturing your new family dynamic. I’m not interested in capturing perfection, but rather the love and energy in your home. I encourage you to not get frustrated if your toddler isn’t cooperating, but rather have patience and take a moment to figure out their needs and wants. Play with them, give them a break, or a cookie, and have FUN! They can read your energy!

This is my same advice I give to all of my couples and families – the best way to get joyful, authentic photos, is to RELAX & have FUN! And trust me – I have years of experience & have my own special way of making the magic happen 🙂

If you’d like to talk about capturing your growing family, email me today at! I can’t wait to hear from you!

Check out one of my favorite newborn sessions with siblings here!

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I believe in all things bright, happy & colorful! Specializing in capturing the JOY of life's greatest adventures!

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