Leah O'Connell

for photographers, newborns

Tips for newborn photos with siblings

tips for newborn photos with siblings by charlottesville photographer
I'm Leah!

I’m obsessed with stories of family, creativity, and simple joys.  A nostalgia nerd, educator, wife, and mom of 3, I believe life’s most fun when you’re dreaming big and having kitchen dance parties. 

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Parents (fairly) have lots of concerns when it comes to lifestyle newborn sessions at home. What to wear, the state of their home, and more than anything, how do you handle newborn photos with siblings?

Some of the comments I’ve heard from parents leading up to a newborn session at home are:

  • “She hates pictures, so we’ll be happy if she even engages at all.”
  • “He is pretty wild – good luck getting him to sit still!” 
  • “She really wants nothing to do with the baby”

The great news is, by simply scheduling your newborn photos to be in the home, you’re already setting yourself up for success.

tips for newborn photos with siblings by charlottesville photographer

Tips and tricks for newborn photos with siblings

Here are a few examples of some common sibling behavior and how I’ve handled those situations in the past to ease your worries.

1. The “anything but this” toddler

The first 5 minutes of this session were calm and glorious. We photographed in the nursery, which was a tight fit with just one window, but we got some sweet moments of the girls together and of the baby by herself.

We did breakdowns of baby with each parent while the other parent fielded tantrums.

Then it broke down. Sweet toddler girl wanted nothing to do with me or anyone. 

Finally, a change of scenery outside was a game-changer. When asked at the end if she had fun, big sis said “YEA!” with enthusiasm.

2. The Jumping Bean

Best news ever – I will never make your kid sit still or “smile big.”

In fact, I’ve found that doing the opposite often leads to family engagement much more authentically.

This little lady was a jumping bean, so we alternated between letting her do silly things, and countering it with prompts like “go tell your brother where you’re going to jump next!”

newborn photographer in charlottesville, poses and games for newborn photos with sibling

For the 2 minutes we got her to catch her breath, I conveniently laid brother beside her and gave her challenges – “can you kiss his ear!?” “can you kiss his forehead soooo soft he doesn’t even feel it!?”

Simply by lowering my voice to a whisper, I often can get even the rowdiest kids to lean in for some gentler moments.

charlottesville newborn photographer for home newborn photos with sibling

Bonus challenge for this session – it all took place in one room. The family was moving to a new state that week and their entire house was upended aside from this spot.

3. What baby?

When there are several kids close together in age, a newborn session with siblings gets even more interesting.

Siblings might be interested in the baby for a brief second, but really, it’s all a competition for parental attention.

The good news is that I don’t need them to be interested in the baby to make photos that have warmth and tenderness.

I just need parents who are interested in playing with and loving on their kids! (and that’s you, I know it!!)

4. The baby tank (and other baby-related challenges)

This little newborn girl was nursing for about 75% of the session.

We made beautiful photos of that interaction, but I was also able to make fun portraits of the other siblings while the newborn and mama were busy!

The older girls got out Guess Who to play on the bed in the middle of the session because baby was just nursing non-stop, so we just rolled with it and those are some of my favorite shots!

In-between feeding, baby was often crying– likely because we needed her to stop eating for at least a few seconds… but we were still able to get lots of really special, intimate, and fun images that speak to the heart of this family’s dynamic. 

Are you pregnant with number 2? (3, 4, or 5?!)

If you’re pregnant and have older kids but still want newborn photos that give you the feels (but not all the stress), I’m your girl.

If you have older kids who make you think “there’s no way they’d go for this…” HI, also here for that.

Families are my heart and soul. Every kind and every way. You deserve photos that bring you back to a place of love, even on the hard days. Let’s make it happen together.

Reach out here to plan your newborn photos with me in Charlottesville!

you might also like:

The Alternative to a Cake Smash Session

4 Tips for lifestyle newborn sessions with 2 under 2

Maternity photos at home

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Hi, I'm Leah.
Family photographer, writer, educator.

I’m  one of the first to meet your newborn baby, the one who won't judge your clothes baskets and unmade beds, and the one who can capture the way your husband looks at you with a twinkle in his eye after 12 years of marriage. I believe in honoring people and telling stories.

I believe art has the power to light up the world in dark places, starting at home.