5 Tips for Including Siblings in a Newborn Session | Arcadian Photography

5 Tips for Including Siblings in a Newborn Session

March 28, 2021

If you are anything like I was, you really want a photo of your new baby with their older siblings.

Your older child might fall in the 1-3 year-old-range, and this has you worried. And rightly so – ha!

I’ll be the first to tell you: this age can be a challenge to photograph. However, not impossible – not by a long shot. Keep scrolling to see all of these gorgeous older sibling photos.

older sisters tickling newborn baby brother at newborn session - Arcadian Photography

There is no forcing or making an 18-month-old or 2-year-old do anything. If they don’t want to lay down and hold their new baby brother or sister… it’s not gonna happen. Negotiating with them or bribing doesn’t really work either. Especially for that 12-18-month-old range. They don’t even get the concept of, “you do this, and I’ll give you this treat.”

So, what can you do? 

Older sister kissing newborn baby brother - Arcadian Photography

1. Have Low Expectations

First of all. Release allllll the expectations. I know. This is the hardest. But it really makes a huge difference.

Big brother hugging newborn baby brother - arcadian photography

If you are low-key, have the attitude of whatever-we-get-we-get-and-I’ll-be-thrilled, your older child is going to feed off of that. They will delight you – because you expect nothing from them, so any cooperation they do give you is Amazing.

Including siblings in a newborn session

Likewise, they will feed off of negative energy. If they feel you and I are trying so desperately to get them to cooperate, they will turn around and fight every step of the way. Gah! And the last thing you want is a full-blown tantrum!

We can be persistent and calm with the two-year-old, but we also have to know when to give them a break – let it go for a little while and try again later. 

including older siblings in a newborn session - arcadian photography

You may be surprised how much your older child actually enjoys being involved on their own, and giving your older child space to explore and relax can result in more natural, genuine images of your family.

2. Time Outs are Not a Bad Thing at the Studio

If things get hairy, keep smiling, breathe, and let everyone take a time out. Have some snacks handy for older siblings (I have some at the studio too, so don’t worry if you forget).

Give them a chance to step away from the camera and play for a little while. There are toys at the studio for this exact reason. We have to very gentle with toddlers. I’ve found that often if we give them space and choices, they will come around.

newborn sessions with older siblings - arcadian photography

Sometimes it’s best to do photos with the older sibling first, so they don’t get bored and restless as the session goes on.

3. Give Them Time to Shine

It’s super normal for some jealousy to be bubbling up for your older child. The new baby, and all the attention they are getting from mom and dad, can take some getting used to! This photo shoot can actually be a great chance to let your older child take center stage for a bit, have lots of attention, and shine.

Take some time to make sure your older kids feel involved in the photo session, both in photos with your new baby and photos of the whole family together.

I also like to try and take a few photos of the older siblings by themselves so they feel special too. Since I spend so much time photographing the baby, this helps to even the score.

4. Hugs and Kisses

Your older child may feel unsure or uncomfortable around the new baby, and a photo session can be a great way to help them loosen up and get to know their new sibling. Some of my favorite photos are images of the older sibling holding, kissing, or snuggling the new baby. Encourage them to touch their brother/sister gently and get close. I have a few toys and ticklers that generally coax a smile or two out of big sister/brother while they are laying down holding their baby.

older brother and sister with newborn baby brother
older brother and sister kiss newborn baby brother

Sometimes I put little treats, like puffs, smarties, or cheerios, right next to their baby on the non-camera side so that it looks like they adore their baby sister when really they are looking for that treat!

5. Have a Few Chats Before

It’s so important to let your older children know what to expect from a photo session. Whether they love to be in front of the camera or are a little bit shy, talking to them in the days before your session about how things will go can ease their minds and make them more comfortable with me.

Bib sisters kiss newborn baby brother.

Sit down with your older child throughout the week before your session and talk to them about how you’ll be having photos taken and the importance of listening to both you and the photographer.

It might help to pull up my Instagram account on your phone and show them the types of photos I’ll be taking. Pull up the Instagram highlight on my studio to show them what the studio looks like, or you can show them the studio’s photos here.

Incorporating older siblings in a newborn session.

With a little preparation, you may find that they’re excited to participate, which makes for wonderful photos!

I look forward to photography your new baby and your older child(ren)! You can contact me here for more information about booking your own newborn session.

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