Top 5 Tips for Taking Newborn Pictures with Siblings

Here are the top 5 tips for Taking Beautiful newborn pictures with siblings

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Newborn pictures with siblings tend to be some of my clients’ favorite portraits, which is completely understandable because who can resist an image of your newest baby alongside your first baby (or in the case of this image, alongside your TWO newest babies)?

I’d like to share five tips for creating beautiful images of infants and their siblings.

Tip #1: Newborn Pictures with Siblings Should be Done Safely

As always, safety is my studio’s first priority.  That is why when posing newborn babies with their older brothers and sisters, there are a few things to remember:

Most of the time, infants should be swaddled  

Swaddling an infant will not only make them feel warm and cozy, but it will also make them feel protected.

We don’t want baby to squirm or baby’s arms flailing in siblings’ faces - we want them calm and relaxed so that older siblings do not get frustrated (and we don’t want big brother or big sister to get whacked in the eye by accident!).

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Plus, it’s easier for an older sibling to wrap their arms around baby if baby is contained in a neat little “package,” so to speak.  

Comfortably securing an infant's arms and legs against their body also allows the photographer to only tend to the head position.

However, babies need not be swaddled if they are on or in a prop and the older sibling will be putting their face near baby or resting their head on baby.  

As always, a spotter should be able to keep their hand on the baby if baby is posed on or in a prop and, once baby is secure, only lift their hand for the couple of seconds it takes the photographer to create the image.

Photograph siblings on the floor  

One of the safest places to photograph newborns and their siblings is on the floor.  

The floor affords a great sense of security, and when you’re little, it’s fun to get on the floor and look straight up (am I the only one who used to imagine walking on the ceiling as a child)?  

I typically lay down a nice blanket or flokati, put two small pillows under the blanket for each sibling’s head, and carefully stand directly right over the children.  Mom or dad sits on the floor alongside their children to spot the newborn (putting a spotter directly behind the heads of the children is still suggested in this position).

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Photograph on a bed

If the older sibling is old enough, they may be able to hold their newborn sibling safely on a bed (with mom or dad spotting).  

I usually will attempt this setup if the older child holding the baby is at least four years old and feels comfortable and confident holding baby.  

I position the children in the middle of the bed with the spotter closeby.  

As in this image, children younger than four can sit alongside their older sibling and newborn sibling. You can also encourage younger siblings to put their hand on baby as well.

Tip #2: Older Children Should Have Fun Taking Photos with Their Infant Siblings

Firstly, when I arrive at a client’s house, I try and bond with other older siblings.  

I make it a point to talk to them, give them high fives, ask them questions about their favorite action heros or movies, etc.  I’ll even ask them to show me their rooms before we start the session (kids love this).

It is important to establish a connection with an older child before you start asking the child to do things for you (lay here, look at the camera, etc.).

It is even better to make the session as fun as possible for older children.  

Sometimes, with parents permission, I will even bring older children a treat (because who doesn’t like treats)?  

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Having the older child like and trust you, and even have fun, makes creating their portraits with their newborn sibling much easier.

Tip #3: Let the Older Sibling Feel Important at the Newborn Photoshoot

In addition to having fun, the older siblings should also feel important.  

Since so much focus is on the newborn baby during a session, it’s critical that older siblings don’t feel left out.  

And older kids are always curious about the whole process, so involving them is best.

There are a few strategies that make older children feel that they have an important role to play.

For example, sometimes I’ll ask an older child to come tell me if I’m doing a good job (I’ll take an image of the newborn and show the older child).  

I may ask them which headband or which hat they like better, and put their favorite on the baby.

I’ll explain to them what I’m doing (I get a lot of “whys?”) and ask if they think I’m doing it correctly.

When we get to the point where it’s time to photograph an older kid with their baby brother or sister, I will ask them “can I see you give baby a kiss?” or “can you show me how you hug your baby brother?” as opposed to “give your brother a kiss and “hug your baby brother.”  

In my experience, the more the older child has been involved in the session, the easier it is to create the portraits.

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Tip #4: If You Must, Bribe

I am not opposed to bribing, if necessary.  Because at the end of the day, if we can offer older siblings something they want in exchange for a few minutes of cooperation which will create portraits that will be adored for generations, I believe it’s worth it.  

But we need to be careful about what we offer the child.  Wrapped gifts can work, or even snacks - but not messy or sticky ones.  You don’t want your child to be eating chocolate in a white shirt.  For this reason, I like to offer cereals and other less messy rewards.  

You would be surprised at what a few cheerios can get you (and what natural smiles you’ll get) if you offer cheerios to a two year old!

Treats can also be incorporated into the actual session to encourage younger siblings to participate.  A friend of mine gave me a stellar tip - if a two year old won’t go near the baby, place cheerios on the baby, and ask the two year old to eat the cheerios off with no hands.  At best, the resulting image will look like the two year old is kissing the baby, or at “worst,” you’re going to have an image of a very excited looking two year old coming close to baby.  

Some post-processing will of course be required to remove the cheerios.

Tip #5: Go with the Flow

Going with the flow is important.  If the older child is sleepy, I’ll focus on creating the newborn’s portraits while the older child rests.  If the older sibling is hungry, I’ll suggest to mom or dad it’s time for a snack.

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Since I conduct all my sessions at my clients’ homes, taking breaks, eating snacks, and going off to play while the rest of the session is transpiring is very easy.

I also usually create newborn portraits with siblings at different times throughout the session.  This is because I like to give the older children a break rather than ask them to do a lot in a short amount of time.  I’ll never push an older child, and just like I take my cues from the baby, I also take my cues form the older child. Usually by going with the flow and being flexible, I am able to create beautiful newborn portraits with siblings.

If you are interested in creating beautiful portraits of your newborn and his or her siblings in the comfort of your home, please contact me to reserve your newborn photography session.

Jessica Catherine Photography was voted Best Newborn Photographer 2019 by Main Line Parent.

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