I am really passionate about including older children into your newborn’s photo session because the love between siblings is so beautiful. However it does require some forward planning, so here are some dos and don’ts to consider when including siblings in newborn photography:
- Plan ahead; discuss the involvement of siblings with your photographer before the session. Share any ideas or specific poses you have in mind so they can be incorporated into the session plan.
- Timing is important: a full newborn session can be long and boring for young children, so arrange to have someone bring them over to the studio at a certain point in the session to avoid them being overwhelmed by the point at which they are needed. Having Wollaton Park across the road from my studio is a perfect place for dads to take older siblings to blast some cobwebs away.
- Be patient and flexible. Working with young children can be unpredictable, so it’s important to be patient and allow time for breaks and snacks if needed. Let your photographer capture spontaneous moments of interaction between your newborn and their older siblings.
- Have fun with it. Encourage the sibling to interact with their new baby brother or sister in a natural way. A lot of older children love to give their new baby a kiss and a cuddle, or share their favourite teddy bear with them. This is a great way to document the special bond they share.
- Focus on safety at all times. When posing siblings with the newborn baby, make sure the older child knows how to be gentle and careful with the baby. Sometimes enthusiastic cuddling can lead to a newborn being laid on and squished. Having a parent on hand to monitor this can be very helpful. I often ask a parent to be on hand to swoop in if the outpourings of love become too much!
- Force participation. If a sibling is not willing to be part of the photo session, don’t force them to be. It’s important to respect their feelings and boundaries.
- Expect perfection; instead embrace their authentic expressions and interactions as these tend to produce more genuine and loved photographs.
- Tell the child to say “cheese”! Nobody ever looks natural when smiling and saying “cheese”!
- Overwhelm the siblings. As mentioned above, newborn sessions can be lengthy and can get quite boring for young children. If there is no way for them to get a change of scene during your photo session, bring plenty to keep them entertained. They are always free to have a run around my garden and jump on the trampoline.
- Disregard their feelings. The arrival of a new sibling is a huge adjustment for children, so be sensitive to their feelings and reassure them throughout the process. I always try to include older children in the shoot, even if it is getting them to choose a colour or prop, as that helps them to feel valued and included.
Involving older children in your new baby’s photo shoot can produce some stunning and heart-warming images, but it does require a little forward planning. By following these dos and don’ts you can create a positive experience for everyone, and capture the precious bond between siblings and your new arrival. If all else fails, I find chocolate buttons can help everyone!