How to Tame a Toddler

 In Behind the Scenes, HOW TO

Learn the Secrets to Becoming a Toddler Whisperer

If you have a toddler you know why I’m blogging about this.

No, I’m not crazy.  I know that there is absolutely no way to tame a toddler.

And why would you really want to anyway? They are small, honest creatures who’s only conceivable flaw is that they see the world with eyes wide with wonder & curiosity.

However, what you CAN do is learn how to get on their level & make their beautiful sense of adventure, exploration & joy work to your advantage.

The Magnificent Now

Toddlers move fast. They wiggle & they giggle & they let their imagination run wild. They are vibrant characters full of life & love.

In order to take beautiful & compelling photographs with your toddler you must allow them to flourish by showing them safety & trust.


Give your toddler the emotional & physical space they need to truly flourish.

Photographing a child can seemingly feel like a fruitless task especially when they just won’t sit still. But it actually offers something unique & worthwhile. Photographs emulate the way our mind extracts & freezes significant moments in time.

These moments are never lost & they become the iconic stepping stones that we are able to walk on for the rest of our lives.

Savor the Moment & Slow Down the Clock

When you first bring home a child there is nothing more raw or real.  Your heart becomes so full that you fear that your chest might actually explode from the love that you feel.

And as they grow, they find excitement in details that we might otherwise consider to be minute & mundane. We aren’t able to fully express with words all the pains & joys that we feel as we watch them develop into who they are to become.

Photographs can provide the voice for the words that are tucked away in our hearts.

The Unlikely Approach

So, how do you take photos of a reluctant toddler who won’t sit still?  The frustration can be overwhelming & it can lead to unhappy parents & therefore unhappy children.

The answer is not to force your child to “act happy” or “smile at the camera”.

The answer is to allow your toddler the freedom to be themselves.  Engage with them & then elicit a true & honest response.  The answer is to create an experience that is both freeing & fun for everyone.



Let your toddler be a toddler.

Sweeten Things Up!

There is one good lesson that I’ve learned with my own toddler when trying to manage his attention deficit.  Entice him with a sweetie.  Not only will it encourage him to give me the biggest, fattest, cutest grin, but a little sweet something almost always makes a great prop.

Yes, it’s true, it can get messy.  But isn’t that what kids are?  Messy.  Why not just embrace it & let them enjoy a treat that is bound to make them happy.

A sweet treat can be anything from a great big colorful lollipop, an ice cream cone, an apple (yes, apples are sweet, too!) or a cupcake.


Sweet treats are a sure fire way to distract a kiddo into enjoyment.

Show them some Affection

Toddlers love their parents.  They are too little to know very much, but one thing that they can always count on is the feelings of love & trust provided by their parents.

As humans, we all need affection & touch – even when we think we don’t.  It is a form of connection & it can soften the soul.

With a toddler, even if you don’t have a cuddly child, they might like to be tickled, or swung around by their arms until they’re dizzy.  Some form of human to human, parent to child contact is sure to make their heart sing.

A toddler, no matter their temperament or disposition, needs to feel the love of their parent.  You & your child have a love language,  you just have to know what it is.  If you haven’t already, you should check out this book.

You can never underestimate the power of touch.  It brings a whole new emotional dimension of humanity, love & joy to your photographs.

Think about what makes your child feel like they have your full, undivided attention.  What is it that you do that can instantly put them at ease?


A toddler needs love & affection.

True Expressions are Lasting Expressions

A sure way to get your toddler to bolt is to ask them to sit still & smile for the camera.  Even if they do as they’re told, will you be getting a “real” smile or what I like to call a “performance” smile?

The smile of a child should be pure, unfiltered, authentic & genuine.  Isn’t this what makes receiving a smile from a child so beautiful, heart warming & precious?

The way to get a true & genuine smile from your toddler is to get down on their level & play!

Children love play.  They love to run & chase & be caught.  They love to be thrown up in the air.  They love to roll around in the grass.  It doesn’t take much & yet they are genuinely happy.  Their laughter & smiles are authentic & true to their spirit.


If the expression is true. The image will last.


Kids at every age like a little challenge.  For instance, if you tell them that they can’t have something then that thing will probably be the first thing that they go for.

Try to gently challenge your toddler to do something silly with their face, catch the bubble, or chase the ball.  This is an opportunity for you to praise them & give them encouraging feedback.  The look of accomplishment is always something beautiful to witness.


Share encouraging words of praise with your toddler.

Give Props!

Props give a busy toddler something to do while also adding an element of surprise & delight to your photos.  Props are fun ways to further engage with your child.  It gives them a sense of being in control.

A prop can be something that is familiar to them like their favorite stuffed animal a hat or bubbles.  Or it can be something that is completely new & novel to them like balloons, a red flyer wagon, or costume jewelry.

Let your toddler take the lead & you can just follow along on their journey.


Props create an added dimension to a photo.

Fantastic Fun!

When you let your toddlers be themselves & just play along with them you will have the most beautiful, authentic & invaluable memories that will withstand time.

It can be your gift to them so that they will be able to look back in time & see who they once were.


Have fun & you can never go wrong.

It can define a moment when life seemed like such a chaotic mess.  You may sometimes feel like it will never end.  But it will.  Your toddler will someday not be a toddler anymore.  Their wide eyed wonder & curiosity for the world will never be as pure & as unfiltered as it is today.

The time is now.  Life only happens once.

Don’t miss the moment!

Have you had any of your own crazy experiences while having photos taken with your toddler? Is there anything that you would’ve done differently?  I’d love to hear about it.  Let me know in the comments section below.

I hope this guide serves you.



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