Thursday, September 12, 2013

Capture That: New Sibling! {Tips for photographing newborns with their big brothers or sisters}

    I often get requests for sibling pictures at newborn sessions and I LOVE the opportunity to get to capture such a special new bond, but when the older siblings are under age 3 I typically tell parents that I will "do my best."  I don't ever guarantee these because I personally don't like pressuring kids into pictures they may not be ready for.  Many times they are excited and happy to love on the new babies right from the start, but when there is just one older child they have not experienced sharing the parents' attention just yet and it may take them a little more time to come around.

      My newborn sessions can sometimes be as early as day 4 or 5 of the new baby's life and those previously only children are still wrapping their little minds around this new member of the family.  Sometimes they adjust right away and are happy to have a baby to play with from the moment that baby gets home, but this is not always the case. I often show up and have parents telling me "She won't look at the baby and is throwing more temper tantrums than usual."

  My best advice for this is to try, do what you can to help them see the baby is not a threat, but if it is causing more turmoil for the first child, don't will have plenty of opportunities to capture them snuggling once they have adjusted.

However, there are still ways to get them in the same frame even if they are not being lovey dovey.

What are some ways you can get toddler siblings to participate for a photo with a newborn baby?

- Let them be just like the baby! My two are 13 months apart and my then 1 year old wanted NOTHING to do with posing with my baby girl when she first arrived, but when we let him lay down in her pack n play and act like her he was all about it!

- Have mom or dad hold the baby and invite the older sibling over just to look. They often are truly excited about the new baby, but are not used to being around one and can be afraid that they may hurt the baby, so asking them to hold the baby if they are not ready can overwhelm them.
OR have mom or dad sit with the toddler first and then have another family member that is not a parent bring the baby over (if someone else is there, otherwise try having the other parent do this). We even did this the day we came home from the hospital with my 2nd. We went inside without baby and snuggled with our toddler. Then we had Grandma bring in the new baby so that he saw she was for all of us and he was still there first.

- Allow them to be helpers! Let them help feed the baby, give baby a paci, or cover the baby's toes with a gives them a sense of importance.

-If they are not ready to even look at the baby, just have them come over and hug mom or dad, talk to them, or play peek a boo while baby is in your arms.

-If you think your child IS ok to hold the baby (with a spotter nearby and in a safe position, padded area, etc), but still seems uncertain, distract them while they are doing so...sing songs, play games, talk about their favorite movie...make it about them, not so much the baby. (Check out Daisy Grip for a great tool for keeping those toddler eyes looking your way)

- Let them sit in one of their favorite chairs or let THEM choose where to set up for the picture. This helps them to feel like they have more control and you often have to let go of how you wanted the picture to be posed or to look like if the moment of getting them together is more important. You may not always love the background that works best for getting these two together.

-To get them looking at a baby they otherwise don't want to acknowledge (b/c in their minds if they do, that may mean mom and dad will see her too ;)) or they are just too busy to pay attention, make it more of a game...where is baby's nose? feet? careful when asking where baby's eyes are though b/c they will poke their fingers right at those new eyes!  And remember it's about them being together...not just about getting the big smiles at the camera, but if you get those too that's great as well!

- Yes, bribery sometimes does work with the 2-3 year olds. It's never my recommendation, but sometimes a reward doesn't hurt during this transitional phase and they see holding and playing with baby as a good thing.

-Reverse psychology...this works in a lot of situations with toddlers, even if not just about pictures with a new baby. If you tell them they can't be in the picture or that you are just going to take pictures of the baby or parents, they often will then insist on being part of the photo.
And be sure to take some photos without the baby too so they don't feel that is the only goal.

-To get that family photo, don't even tell them that's what you are going to do. Sneak them into the picture by playing a game and letting them sneak up and tickle daddy or jump up from behind.

-For older siblings (3 and up)- in my experience, these children are eager to see, hold, and welcome the new baby (most of the time), but even more so if they get to be helpers and the girls especially act like little mommas, so embrace that and let them!

Again, do not force this. If you feel you have tried a lot and it is just causing more anxiety, you could be making the adjustment take a little longer and causing more angst. This new baby means lots of changes for the older sibling and they just need time to get used to those, but before long will be begging to help, play with, or snuggle with the new little one and they will have a lifetime together and many chances to get these sweet moments on camera!

Here are some links to a few great articles for helping children adjust to life as a sibling:

Ask The Parent Coach: 7 Ways To Help Your Child Adjust To A New Baby

Helping your preschooler adjust to a new sibling

Preparing Your Older Child for a New Sibling

We would love to see photos of your siblings that you were able to capture too! Please post them on our Facebook page HERE

Lisa Rappa Photography

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