Light and Airy Toddler Posing Guide

I took these photos of my neighbor’s daughter back before we moved to Amsterdam. I hadn’t learned a ton about photography yet, but I knew one thing.

You cannot pose toddlers.

As a two-time toddler mom, I already had a good idea of how sessions with toddlers can go. Screaming, fussing, “no-no’s,” countered with “please just one more” and bribing with cheese is just a snapshot. I quickly gave up on trying to pose toddlers.

But we still have to get pretty pictures, right?!

Here’s how I do that, without posing toddlers at all.

toddler posing guide

Toddler Posing Guide

Consider wildlife photography. A skilled photographer preps the scene and then backs off and waits for the subject to wander in front of his lens. He doesn’t kindly ask the wild lion to please sit still and don’t crinkle your dress. No, he preps and he waits. Toddler photography is no different.

light and airy photography toddler in pink

Prepping your Toddler

Prepping your toddler is more about prepping your toddler’s parents. Advise on outfits, but also advise on comfort levels. Things like uncomfortable shoes or itchy seams or a dress that’s not warm enough can negatively impact your session. Suggest to your wild lion’s parents that they bring snacks and comfort items such as loveys for their toddler.

You yourself can provide something for the toddler to look at, such as a book or stuffed animal. Keep in mind that once you offer an item, you won’t be getting it back.

toddler photography


Toddler-friendly locations can include a flower field (but watch out for snakes) or an orchard. Nature-based locations such as a park or garden are ideal for toddlers because they are safe and offer the toddler a chance to explore without wandering into the street (or bike lane, if you’re like me and live in Amsterdam!).

When toddlers are engaged exploring, they usually aren’t crying or turning their head in an unpredictable manner. Usually toddlers look at something, then turn to look at their parents to see what they think about it. It’s simple baby psychology!

light and airy toddler posing

During your Session

Once you’ve got your toddler well-dressed and in a location that captivates their interest, get ready to rumble. You will either be sitting and waiting or running around with them. Some toddlers are cautious and slowly explore their surroundings. You may want to give the toddler’s parents a flower or leaf to show them. (Gorgeous detail shot of their hands + beautiful wide shot of parents interacting with toddler.) Sometimes your wily subject will take off exploring and it’s your job to run around them getting the right angles.

What NOT to do!

This happens to me all the time, and I realize I have not communicated my toddler posing strategy to the parents well enough. Leave the toddler alone. Unless they are about to hurt themselves, let the parents know not to interrupt their toddler until you’ve gotten the shot you want. A lot of times I’ll be lining up a beautiful shot of a baby with the chubbiest cheeks and the widest eyes full of wonder and awe gazing at a beautiful flower and then mom shouts, “Look at the camera!” Toddler looks at mom, glances at me for a second, and then runs away!

Were these tips helpful?

Do you have any more photography questions? Email me at or message me on Instagram!


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