How to prepare younger siblings for newborn session

Preparing a younger sibling to participate in the newborn session is so incredibly important for 2  reasons:

  • safety: younger siblings can accidentally cause harm and injury to a newborn posed next to and on them
  • cooperating with newborn: posing a young child next to a newborn has to be a relatively quick process as newborns are unpredictable in behavior and can easily wake up and unsettle during the posing process

Including a younger sibling/s can often times be the most stressful experience during the entire shoot. The best chance to avoid potential roadblocks is preparation before the shoot. Here are a few suggestions to try to prepare your younger child for the newborn session. There is never a guarantee when working with younger subjects, but doing the following steps before a shoot can greatly improve the chance that we capture that elusive sibling portrait:

  1. talk through the situation days before the shoot. Talk about my house, studio, me, the camera, the lights, and everyone who will be there. Talk through expected behaviors and the need to cooperate during the shoot
  2. show them some examples of what you want to achieve for the shoot. Pinterest is a great way to show your younger child what we want to photograph so that there is an expectation of what mom/dad wants to achieve and what the camera is trying to capture. Get them excited by asking them to pick their favorite poses or things to do with the baby for the shoot (send me those ideas if your younger child picks any!). Check out this board I pinned for potential sibling shot ideas to share with your younger child
  3. practice! Days before the shoot, play pretend and act out the newborn session with the younger sibling. Grab your iPhone and try to create excitment and fun in posing the siblings together. Do spot the baby during this process but practice having baby lie next to the sibling, in their arms (if they're able). Practice asking them to sit and lie down next to the baby. Practice having them look at, kiss, and lean towards baby on cue. Make sure to create a big hoopla and give a ton of praise for cooperation
  4. prepare to bribe. Think about what rewards you are comfortable offering should you need to bribe the day of or during the shoot and come prepared
  5. loop me in! Do you notice anything during your practice runs? Is the sibling particularly rough or excited around the baby? Is the sibling unwilling to sit near the baby? Is the sibling totally uncooperative during mock sessions? Email me in advance and loop me in! The more advance notice I have as to what to expect, the more I can prepare to negotiate with sibling come session time
  6. don't lose your cool during the shoot. One of the easiest way end a sibling session is if the parents get mad or frustrated. Younger children respond especially poorly to this. They are incredibly sensitive and it's important to note that they're asked to pose in front of the camera in a stranger's house with that stranger around! This can be a daunting and uncomfortable situation for even adults so it's so important that you leave the coaxing to me and just be supportive and excited during the posing process

There is no scientific reason but I've found that girls tend to cooperate less than boys of the same age in sibling posing. Another suggestion if you find yourself in this situation is to have your younger child pick out her outfits before the shoot. Little girls might be more cooperative if they can look their best for the shoot. 

It's important to note that no amount of preparation can guarantee a younger child will cooperate the day of the shoot, but I hope that the above few suggestions can preemptively deter some potential bumps for day of. I can't wait to meet your family!! I can't wait to see some magic and some disaster. We can laugh about it later!


Did you find this post helpful? Check out these other session prep posts.

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