When a newborn has an older sibling, of course, Mom and Dad want to have pictures of their children together! The moments between the two are precious and it is wonderful to have them captured! I have photographed newborns together with their older sibling from ages 1 to teenagers. There are quite a few options of how to pose the siblings together and what you choose will differ depending on the age and demeanor of the sibling. Sibling shots are always possible to do safely, even with the most rambunctious children!!
There are a lot of things to consider when including a sibling in a newborn session. The number one factor, always, when working with a newborn, is safety. I follow general guidelines depending on age for which poses will work, but, I always have a conversation with Mom beforehand on her comfort level for letting older sibling hold or lay with the newborn. And of course - going back to safety - what you don't see in the picture, is that Mom or Dad is always right next to the baby...or, and I'll get to this more later...the resulting picture is Photoshop magic and baby and sibling were never actually next to each other!
Of course it is always great to get genuine, organic interactions...but sometimes with a boisterous 2 year old or unpredictable 1 year old, that just isn't safe.
Here is my general breakdown of poses based on siblings age. This, of course, will vary depending on the temperament of the child and how well they can follow directions.
1 - 3 Years Old
or has a hard time following directions
Sitting next to baby
Laying next to baby
Sitting next to an EMPTY bucket and using Photoshop to combine the two images together during editing. This is also a great tool to use because sometimes the bucket can be a tricky pose and baby AND sibling aren't ready for it at the same time!
Plan B is to have older sibling lay alone and baby lay alone and combine the photos in Photoshop.
Here are some examples...Some of the photos of baby and sibling laying next to each other are composited (1 picture of baby and 1 picture of sibling put together to look as if they are together)...can you tell which?
Another trick for an unpredictable toddler is to just crop in close during the family poses so both children are secure. I just love the feeling of intimacy in these shots and tend to use them even when the child is having a great session (as was this little girl...she was a sweetie!).
4+ Years Old
Older children can also lay next to baby as the younger ones, but generally they can have their arm under baby, with baby resting on their shoulder. It is important the child listens well and can lay still so they don't try to get up while baby is still on their arm...again...mom or dad is always right next to them just in case!
Around 4 years old is also when sibling can usually start sitting with baby on their lap...'criss cross applesauce' style. It is also usually safe to let the child be next to the baby in the basket. Here are a few examples
As you can see, most of the time the younger children holding the baby need their arm propped up to keep baby's head elevated. A little patience and pillow placing is all that is needed. Generally around 7 or 8 years old they can sit and hold the baby without the assistance of a pillow...though it still may help to have a less awkward pose.
Thanks for reading! Are there any other poses you would like to know how to accomplish safely?