Preparing for a session with your toddler

Toddlers can be an unruly beast.  They want what they want, when they want it, and they rarely can be reasoned with.  This can make a portrait session a little bit of a challenge.  Here’s a few tips to get your toddler ready for their session.

First things first – clothing.  We all want our kids to look their best for their portraits.  Nobody wants a giant wall portrait of their kid in the clothes they wear everyday.  Especially if your kids are like mine and spend most days in mismatched clothes with spills down the front.  But while you’ll want your kids to look nice, they’ll want to be comfortable, so keep this in mind when choosing their outfits.  Avoid things that are itchy, tight, or don’t move well.  Use your judgement and your knowledge of your child to determine when to dress your child.  Some kids do best when they’re dressed at home, others can’t manage even a short car ride without a snack, and would do better to be dressed just before the session, after they’ve spilled everything all over their play clothes.

Toddlers can take a while to warm up to a new setting.  Arrive at the location a few minutes early so they have some time to run around and get used to being in the location, as well as getting all those post-car wigglies out.  Again, you know your kid best and you know how long it typically takes them to warm up, so plan accordingly.  Just remember that things can go wrong – traffic, missed turns, whatever – so give yourself a few extra minutes just to be sure.  If you’re running late, it’ll put stress on you and your child.

Bring some simple, non-messy snacks for your son or daughter.  Cheerios, puffs and the like are perfect.  Something they can eat quickly if they’re getting hungry, but that won’t make a mess or color their mouths.  A sippy of water is always a good thing to have on hand too.  I’ll bring candy for older kids (smarties) but be sure to bring something your toddler likes to eat.  It also never hurts to bring a favorite toy or two.  But remember – there’s a decent chance that toy will end up in some of the pictures.  (When he’s older, you’ll appreciate it.  He’s not going to be dragging that ratty old bear around forever.  When he’s a teenager, you’ll cherish the image of your two year old with his favorite bear.)

Most important, relax.  I promise, your kid is not the worst behaved I’ve ever seen.  Yours is not the only child who won’t sit still.  If you’re on edge, your toddler will be too.  So just relax, take a deep breath, and have fun.  Even if your son or daughter is running full tilt for the entire session, we will get some beautiful shots out of it.

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