We all know that once you have your second, third or fourth (and beyond!) child, the images of them together are priceless.
When you come into your newborn session, I know that you want that shot and how badly you do want it. But you’re worried the sibling(s) won’t behave, you’re already exhausted and you just want it over with.
We have to remember that this is a HUGE deal for little kids - mum and dad have their attention suddenly on this new baby, they are feeding and can’t cuddle them on demand, they are tired, routine might be out the window and so on.
Considering that, we then get them to lie down or sit with the new baby while everyone around them is staring at them (including me, the stranger) and telling them to smile. Most of them don’t even get to the lying down stage without some resistance!
Empathy is key here - what we’re asking them is hard on them. But here are a few things we CAN do to make it easier.
PREPARE AT HOME
The most common sibling shot is the one below, it’s gorgeous. It’s also the hardest, as it is intimidating for kids to lay down in front of a stranger with a giant camera pointed at them. So practice this at home, just get them to lie next to their sibling (not posed) and reward any good behaviour. Tell them this is what will happen at the session and what a great big sister/brother they are being!
Don’t force them into clothes they hate or have never worn before on the day. They don’t have to wear giant wiggle shirts but don’t buy them something they’ve never worn before and have them wear it for the first time at the session - pre prepare them for everything.
With girls especially, try and make sure their hair is styled in a way where we don’t have to adjust it much, as this will just stress them out. Make sure the clothes you choose don’t have big material around the arms that get in the way of their face when lying down.
I know telling you to relax won’t make it happen but do your best! Kids feed off your moods and if they sense you really really really want this shot, then they’ll really really really not want to do it!
Relax knowing that I have photographed hundreds of sibling/newborns together and there’s been a total of 2 in 8 years that didn’t happen.
Relax knowing that it’s completely NORMAL for them to not want to do it at first and that they are acting like every other kid their age in the same situation.
It’s very easy to escalate to “JUST DO IT” but trust me that it doesn’t help, it will only make them resist further.
Remember too that a lot fo the shots you see are not how they appear. I have used popcorn on a mum’s belly to get her son to kiss her on a maternity session, I have stuffed a chocolate bar under a pillow to get a toddler looking at his new baby brother! We have lots of little tricks!
LET THEM HAVE THEIR FAVOURITE TOY/BLANKET
Yep, it’d be nice to get a shot without any Thomas the Tank engine in their little hands but sometimes they really just do need the extra comfort in that shot. Often just letting them do that for the first few shots means they’ll warm up a little and realised it isn’t so scary, and then let me photograph them without it.
FEED THEM and CUDDLE THEM.
Kids are notoriously terrible when they are hangry. Feed them WELL about 20 minutes before the session, in the car if you have to!
Spend the first few hours before the session cuddling them. This will make them feel calmer from the get go instead of watching you stress about getting ready.
I don’t mind if you are 10 minutes late, you have a new baby so I expect it! So relax while you get ready, give the sibling lots and lots of cuddles and make it a nice and stress feel drive here.
LET THEM HAVE THEIR OWN SPECIAL PHOTO
I’ve started letting the sibling have their own couple of shots or shots JUST with mum and dad (no baby) so they feel as included as possible. Girls especially seem to enjoy this, and with boys you let them have a photo with their favourite toy. Anything that gets them enjoying the experience is worth it!
I hope these tips have helped and make you feel that it CAN be done as long as we all have some patience and understanding. We will definitely try our best!