Family Photo Session Tips: Mistakes You’re Making When Dressing Your Toddler

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I am Neyssa Lee a Seattle area photographer, mom of 6, planning obsessed, and who help you see the beauty, love and joy, in your own family’s chaos. I also use my super power of time management to help fellow photographers take control of their businesses. Learn more by heading to my ABOUT ME page.

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Wait! Don’t put that on your toddler for your family photo session!

Did I get your attention? Good.

If you have a toddler, you already know they are full of energy and personality, all with a longing for independence.

Toddlers can also be fun to dress for family photos. They are out of the “baby” stage, so it can be easy to want to dress them like the big kids. However, there are a few things you want to watch out for when selecting outfits.

I’m here to offer up my top 5 pitfalls to avoid when dressing your toddler for your family photo session. These tips will leave you with things to consider when dressing your child, all while providing you with easy fixes. These will not only help your picture day go more smoothly, but will ensure your child’s outfit won’t distract from your child’s face!

Seattle family photographer captures family photos in the mountains

Pitfall #1: Avoid outfits that do not allow easy movement.

Toddlers aren’t always the sturdiest on their feet. They may love to run on their own, but not without a few tumbles. Adding in clothing that trips them up just makes matters worse. So embrace this stage and look for things that doesn’t hinder movement.

A great way to test an outfit is to try it on them and let them run around the house in it. Do they seem to trip or struggle walking more than normal? If so, look for something else. Trust me, you’ll be happy you did.

Pitfall #2: Avoid bulky layers for your family photo session.

Yes, keeping your child warm during your family photo session is key. A cold child is an unhappy child. (Remind me to tell you the story of that one time we did not have enough layers for my daughter and she froze and cried most of the time….)

However, you also want to be able to see your child. If the layers are bulky they can get in the way as you move and play. Also see the tip above. Bulky layers can make it more difficult for them to move.

Instead, think of thin, warm layers. Long sleeves under a sweater, for example.

Snoqualmie Family PHotographer's photo of family of four during fall family photo session

Pitfall #3: Avoid uncomfortable fabrics for your family photo session.

Toddlers are extra particular about how their clothing feels. They are not likely to just embrace the sweater that is a little itchy, or the jeans that are too stiff to move in. Something may look adorable, but if your toddler is uncomfortable we will all know it and it will show in your photos as they fidget with their clothes or move more awkwardly.

Pitfall #4: Avoid too many accessories or ill-fitting accessories.

Accessories can be adorable and add interest to your family photo session. A cute little beanie during the winter can add a pop of color, or a headband for that little bald baby girl (I had three bald baby girls, so I get it).

However, accessories can also be distractions, especially for toddlers. Ensure that your accessories will stay put with movement so you’re not spending the entire time replacing headbands or hair clips.

Pitfall #5: Avoid dressing your child in something they dislike.

This is a pitfall for any age. It can be easy to just want to dress your child in something that you love or that works perfectly with the rest of the family’s outfits. However, if you pick a dress and your child hates wearing dresses, or you pick jeans and your child only wears “soft pants” you will pay for it during your session. (True story, my oldest would only wear “soft pants,” as he called until he was 3 or 4 years old).

Embrace their preferences when selecting their outfit and you’ll both be happier come picture day.

Snoqualmie family photographer takes photo of mother and daugther

So what should you dress your toddler in for your family photo session?

Pick something that your will be comfortable in, something she can wear without noticing it. The best way to find out, is to do a test run. Dress her in the outfit and let her run around and play around the house. If she doesn’t pull or fuss, you’re golden.

Once you have your toddler dressed, try the flying high test.

Have your husband pick them up, fly them like an airplane and twirl them around. As he does this notice, did you forget tights under that dress? Does her outfit completely fall off (think of straps falling down, sweaters riding up, etc). Of course, the outfit is expected to move a bit. However, if their face is covered the entire time, or when you come back down everything has to be completely readjusted, try another outfit option.

As always, I’m here for my families. If you have a family photo session scheduled with me and have questions, I’m more than happy to help so that you feel confident in your outfit choices!

Now that you’re ready to dress your toddler, don’t forget about yourself, mama. Head to the link below for my top tips for selecting outfits for moms.

Best Places to Find Outfits for Mom

For a few more favorites from this family photo session in the mountains, peek through below. Be inspired as this mama dressed two toddlers beautifully and it surely showed in their gallery.