One of the most challenging aspects of being a newborn photographer is posing the newborn with a sibling. But also this can be the most rewarding shot that you will ever capture! The majority of people tend to have their babies two years apart, so this means 9 times out of 10, you are working with not only a newborn, but also a rambunctious 2 year old toddler. Add in the fact that this toddler's usual routine has just been recently altered with the introduction of a new baby in the home….and well, you can see where this is going.
Some siblings adjust very well to welcoming a new little bundle of joy into their home, unfortunately, some do not. Since you never can anticipate which type you will get, you need to be prepared for anything.
THE NEWBORN BABY'S SAFETY is the most important factor when you are posing them with a young sibling. Here are a few things that you SHOULD NOT do:
- Do not let the toddler/sibling hold the baby unattended. If that baby gets dropped, squeezed, rolled-on, squished, or slapped (yes, those precious 2 year olds like to slap), then not only will parents be upset with you, they will be upset with the sibling and the tension begins to rise and the whole session will go downhill from there.
- Do not place the baby and sibling on high surfaces. I try to take all my sibling shots on the ground or have them as close to the ground as possible. Kids get uneasy when they are out of their element. The toddler is already getting nervous about being in an unfamiliar place and interacting with the new baby, I've noticed that if you let them sit or lay on the floor they are more comfortable with the idea. Occasionally I will let the toddler sit in a chair, this is only for the VERY cooperative siblings.
- Do not force the toddler to do something they don't want to do. All of us mommies know what happens when you try to force your child to do something, it becomes a battle of the wills and never ends well. Instead of telling them what to do, ASK them. For example, "Do you want to kiss the baby". If they are adamant about not doing it, quickly move on to something else. You can always come back to it later.
COMPOSITE IMAGES are another way to ensure the baby is always safe. If using a prop, place it on the ground first and snap a shot with the toddler sitting next to it BEFORE you even put the baby in/on the prop. This way you can make sure that a baby in a bucket doesn't get carelessly overturned and a spotter can focus on newborn safety without the distraction of a sibling in the shot. See below for some examples.
More great tips:
- Use a swaddle/wrap to secure the newborn
- Lay newborn and sibling on their backs next to each other
- When attempting composite images, place a toy in the prop so the siblings will look at it
- Holding the baby is not the only option, lay the baby on bed/carpet/prop and then have toddler lean over the newborn to kiss/hug the baby (with parent nearby, of course)
I hope this post was helpful to you! ALWAYS REMEMBER WHEN PHOTOGRAPHING NEWBORNS: SAFETY FIRST!
To view more of my recent work with newborns and siblings,