Photographing siblings with a newborn

Photographing siblings with a newborn

Photographing siblings with a newborn is a bit of an art form in itself, and having photographed lots of families with a new addition it’s a situation I’m very comfortable and familiar with. I totally understand how nervous parents can feel about a session like this will go, though. The experience will be so different from a newborn portrait session with just one baby – how will it work with a toddler in the mix? Well, my years of experience mean that I can read your oldest child’s mood as well as your newborn’s, and adapt the format of the portrait session according to their needs. If one wants a break, that’s fine! If your toddler wants some time being the star, that’s also fine – I can work with whatever they like doing.

Unlike many newborn photographers, I’m more than happy to incorporate siblings in the portrait session. In fact, I love capturing the developing bond between siblings!

Toddler lying next to his newborn sister

Choosing the best time of day

We’ll usually schedule the portrait session around your oldest child’s routine – typically, a 10am start. The best time is when they’ve had something to eat and they’re not tired. Little ones tend to have more energy and be at their best in the morning.

If your oldest child is overwhelmed by having a new baby in the family and not entirely sure about the idea yet, it can be worth postponing until your newborn is six weeks old. This gives a toddler a chance to adjust having a sibling, and for the bond to have developed more between them. You can see more about photographing newborns at their six week milestone here:

“I was impressed with Louise’s sense of calm. She has a natural ability to engage with children. Our baby stayed calm throughout, and there are some fantastic photos of her with our son. The photos are everything I hoped they would be and more – there are so many beautiful pictures. Louise managed to capture us all extremely naturally. I will always treasure these photos of those special early days. Thank you Louise!” Nell

On the day

As soon as I arrive, I make sure the older child feels just as important and interesting to meet as the newborn. I chat to them beforehand, and deliberately pay little attention to your newborn at first. It’s not that I’m not enchanted by your new arrival, just that I’m using a bit of child psychology to help us get the most out of your portrait session!

Depending on your older child’s mood, I’ll usually photograph them first – giving them a moment in the lime light to minimise any jealousy issues.

Throughout the session, I’ll stay aware of complimenting your older child on being a brilliant big sister – resisting the urge to verbalise throughout how gorgeous your tiny little newborn is!

We’ll choose the moment for photographing the siblings together based primarily on the older child’s mood. Likewise, if they want some time to play or have a rest, I take the individual shots of the newborn during that down time.

It’s helpful to have both parents present as one parent can take the older child off for a bit while I photograph the newborn individually, with another parent on hand to help settle the newborn.

There’s a little more work to do with getting some situations ready for particular photographs but it’s still absolutely possible to get lovely natural portraits that don’t look staged.

I’ll keep the mood nice and calm so your newborn is in a safe environment – this isn’t the moment for jumping on the bed, unless you’re holding your new baby safely out of shot!

Older sister lying sleeping next to her newborn baby sister

Keeping your older child engaged

Making a game of touching the baby’s nose or tummy can be a great way of encouraging your first born to touch and stroke the newborn, and creates very emotive photographs.

Asking the older children if they know how to kiss the baby – very gently and slowly – also works really well if they don’t feel like kissing the newborn. This can take a few goes but is so worthwhile!

Playing sleeping bunnies on the parents bed also works a treat for capturing some snoozy moments together – once your older child is laying down with their eyes closed, we can carefully place your newborn alongside them.

Positioning the baby safely is very important – we’ll only place your newborn where your toddler won’t suddenly turn and squash the newborn, and where their fragile little head is protected. Laying across the toddler’s lap can work well – with a parent close by – out of shot – to reach in if needed.

Sister-kissing-newborn-baby copy

How long will the portrait session last?

Most of my newborn portrait sessions last for two hours. If you have the time, it’s worth considering a longer newborn session (3-4 hours) as it buys us more windows of opportunities if your older child has a cranky day or your newborn doesn’t have the settled morning – but it’s absolutely doable in the standard 2 hour session, so don’t feel it’s essential as it really isn’t! You can see the booking options here. 

Do get in touch and I can recommend when would be the best time for you and your family. Rest assured that no matter how old your children are, I can still take gorgeous photographs of your new addition – and of you all as a family.

“This was the fourth time we have had Louise come and take photos of our family and we are delighted with the pictures from this session of our 4 day old baby boy and all of us as a family. We love the way Louise managed to capture him in his quiet moments and the detail that she could focus on. The eyelashes, lips, hands and feet these images are stunning. More impressive with the constant sleeping of the newborn, we have some stunning photos of our wee one with his eyes open staring into the world. We particularly love how she managed to capture beautiful moments our both of our sons together in between the protests of our eldest son and needs of a newborn. We will definitely be seeing Louise again next year and would highly recommend her.” Jamie

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