Awesome Tips for Surviving My Family Pictures with Toddlers

Nothing is worst than when It’s time to send out those cute Christmas cards, and your child is digging in their nose or crying hysterically in almost every photo. Before Now, I have found myself digging through hundreds of photos, looking for ones I wouldn’t be embarrassed to print. Not anymore! In this post I share my top tips for surviving my family pictures with toddlers. 

Family portraits have come a long way from black and white pictures taken with poloraids and flash cubes. Cameras today are able to capture every single moment, the good, the bad and the ugly! 

You definitely don’t want to send grandma a family pic of your son digging for boogies or your husband staring down at his phone. 

Pictures before today felt so robotic, and trying to  get your toddler to stand as still as possible for every photo is a recipe for disaster. 

Toddler Things to Bring to a Family Photoshoot 

Bring on the bribes!  The best tip for surviving my family pictures with toddlers is to bring rewards and things that will make your child happy. 

1. The child’s favorite toy 

2. Snacks– Raisins, Grapes, Pretzels, Apple slices, Carrots, Celery, or Fruitsnacks are great no mess snacks. Snacks are helpful when shooting in between individual poses. 

Water or Clear Juice

4. Childs Favorite Song- Cocomelon is one of the top toddler sing alongs and perfect for getting your child to cooperate for family photoshoots. 

5. Bring a Stroller– depending on the age of your toddler, and the location of your photos , strollers are huge helpers. 

6. Tag Along Friend- bring someone who child loves to be around to help out and to stand behind the camera to capture the child’s attention. 

Places to Take Family Photos

Usually professional family pictures are taken in a studio. Studio Photos are great during colder months, capturing babies, and business related photos. I personally love outdoor photoshoots of families. 

The natural lighting and natures background really does capture story telling photos. Outdoor places such as, the local park, State parks, beaches and lakes are awesome places to take family photos.  Check out these places to take family pictures in NJ

How long should a family photo shoot last? 

Professional family photos can last about 1 to 2 hours. It really does depend on the size of the family and the variety of poses requested. Things like outfit changes, individual portraits or a fussy  toddler can take up lots of time when taking portrait family pictures. 

I would suggest preparing the family for a long shoot by making sure everyone has eaten and is well rested before arriving. 

Also, be sure to lay outfits out the night before, all the way down to socks and shoes, to make sure the outfit changes are seamless at the time of the shoot. 

Another suggestion would be to write out certain shots that you would like get; for example I only have one son and I like to get shots of him and my husband together.

Writing out certain shots helps to give the photographer out a lot and speeds up the photoshoot. 

How Do I Get My Toddler to Cooperate for Pictures? 

First,  I would suggest you Try asking your photographer to get the child more comfortable with the camera. Allowing the child to briefly touch the camera ( with assistance) and maybe view other photos of other kids the photographer has taken. 

Create the expectation of what is about to happen. 

Next, I would ask the photographer to allow things to happen naturally. Interact with the child and capture candid moments of the child being a child.

Position the parents around whatever is happening starting out. Once the child has gotten use to the camera being in their space the child will be more likely to cooperate for the family photo.  

How Should Kids Pose for Portraits?

1. The Piggy Back – what kid doesn’t like a piggy back ride from dad. This is a great pose to capture laughs and your toddler having fun! 

2. Skipping- My girls absolutely love to skip. It’s the perfect action pose for a Surviving Family Picture Day 

3. Holding Hands- the warmth of a parental hand is always comforting for family pictures. 

4. Lap Pose– My kids love to sit on daddy’s lap. Have dad play with them to capture these awesome moments. 

5. Hug it Out- hugs are awesome poses for family portraits, especially the really big tight hugs. 

6. Folding Arms- folding arms is a such a staple pose for children it makes them feel powerful. 

A smile is worth a thousand words- Julie A. Walker 

How to Get my Child to Smile? 

You definitely don’t want a portfolio filled with family pictures of your child not smiling. To make your kid smile, start out asking the tag along friend to make funny faces behind the camera. Kids love funny faces.

The photographer will be able to capture authentic laughs and smiles and not the fake smiles no one enjoys making. 

You can also, try tickling your child. Tickles are perfect for capturing your toddler smiling. Right after he photographer says something like “say cheese” give your toddler the one finger tickle on the side. I really does help capture some of the best family photos. 

One other thing that helps capture smiles from toddlers during family shoots are the odd sayings other than “say cheese”. Try sayings like “stinky feet” or funny made up words. 

Bring on the Props for family photo shooting with toddlers. Depending on the occasion of the shoot,  Hand Puppets, building blocks, stuffed animals, and other kids of toys or props are great additions to capturing the perfect family photos. 


Portraits of Families can last a lifetime. From generation to generation family pictures have told the stories and tales that live on forever. Make your next family photoshoot one you and your toddler one you’ll never forget . 

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