When people see photos of my daughter Molly on my Instagram and on my blog there’s always one main question I get. And that is, how do you get a toddler to smile for all of your pictures?! Some people assume Molly is just happy all the time. Trust me when I say, she is a typical two-year-old and is definitely not smiling all the time. And others probably assume I bribe her with candy and cupcakes! Ha! And while there is some bribery when things get really tough, for the most part I try to avoid it.
So the other day we were taking our photos for our Minted Christmas card and Molly started off in pretty rough shape (See below photo – ha!). She woke up on the wrong side of the bed that morning and was in quite a mood right up until my photographer and friend Ashley arrived. I thought for sure there was absolutely no way we were going to get our family photos. But with a few tricks up my sleeve, we were able to get the absolute cutest pics and I wanna share with you guys how we did it! So today on my blog, I’m sharing my top six tips for getting super cute pictures of your toddler!
And look, getting cute photos can be hard. I try to never push Molly to take a photo that she doesn’t want to. But these holiday photos were so important us! We hired a photographer to come to our house that day just to take them and I even got my make-up done! So for Molly to decide she’s not in a good mood didn’t really work for our family on that day. I know other parents and families have had the same experience! So hopefully I can make the experience a little bit smoother for you today. And in the process, I’m also going to share what holiday card we picked out and how that process on Minted’s website was extremely smooth! You literally text them the photo you want to use and they send you back 5 holiday card options that look absolutely perfect with your photo! It’s crazy cool! But I’ll get to that in a minute.
First the photos. Here are my 6 tried-and-true tips.
Molly absolutely loves music! I’m sure many of you remember her singing Havana nonstop when she was one, and although sadly Havana is not at the top of her playlist anymore, she loves a bunch of other songs including the entire Moana soundtrack! So whenever we’re taking photos and she’s in a bad mood, I’ll put on music and it usually instantly puts her in a better mood! She’ll dance around and sing and smile and laugh. I’ve gotten some of the cutest photos of Molly while she’s been dancing and jamming out to her favorite tunes.
What I mean by this is don’t expect a toddler to stand in one place while you’re taking photos. Instead, set up an area or a general space where you would like to take your picture and let your toddler run around and play. There have been so many times I’ve tried to get Molly to smile at the camera while I’m holding her in my arms, or to stand next to me to take a photo and it almost never works!
So when we took our holiday card photos, we decided we were going to take them in the formal living room of our house and we just let her explore and do her thing. Instead of trying to smile and stare at the camera, we interacted with her and tried to make her giggle. Candid shots always turn out to be the best photos anyway!
Give Them a Prop
Props work wonders. It distracts the child and also gets them to genuinely smile because they like the item they’re playing with. It’s like a new toy to them! I feel like kiddos need something to do with their hand at all times. They’re busy bodies and just wanna keep moving and exploring. So like I said above, give them the space to explore and by giving them a prop you give them something to stay busy with. So for these photos I gave Molly a big decorative candy cane because I knew she would have fun playing with it and would hopefully give us some super cute smiles!
Teach Them How the Camera Works
Kids are endlessly curious. They want to know how things work in their world. So try this – let you toddler take YOUR picture! I mean, if you’re using an expensive camera obviously you’re not gonna hand it over to your two-year-old. But what we will do is when we’re shooting photos my photographer Ashley, who is amazing by the way, we’ll let Molly come sit on her lap and look through the camera view finder and take some pictures of mommy! It allows Molly to feel part of the process. She likes pushing the button and then seeing the image. So she gets more excited about getting in front of the camera herself and getting to come back and look at the photo. And that’s another thing, after you take one or two photos, let your kiddo look at them on the screen on your camera. It might encourage them to make a silly face and then come back over to the camera to see the silly face played back to them! Molly enjoys “taking picture” so much that she now has her own little camera that she carries around the house.
Surprise Them With a New Outfit
Molly is a bit of a tomboy. She is absolutely obsessed with sports! Whenever a sporting event comes on the TV she’s glued to it. If soccer or football or baseball comes on the TV she gets so excited! Honestly I don’t know a bigger Cubs fan than Molly. And that’s coming from somebody who is married to a man who has been a fan of the Cubs for 35 years. Molly is for sure a bigger fan! Ha! Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked. My point is, even though she’s a bit of a tomboy she absolutely loves clothes! She for sure gets that from her mom. So if I know I want to get a cute photo of Molly, I’ll often surprise her with a new outfit. I’ll pull out a new dress and talk about how pretty it is and she gets so excited to put it on and twirl in front of the mirror. I think sometimes when people take holiday photos, they think to put their child in the outfit beforehand to get them used to it, but that doesn’t work for Molly. She loves the surprise of a new outfit and when she sees how excited I am about it, she gets just as excited. The PJ’s she’s wearing in these photos I gave to her minutes before we started taking them. She couldn’t believe her luck that she got to match with Mommy, Daddy and Baby Riley.
Have An Option B
I always think it’s important to have a option B if everything doesn’t work out your first go around. For example, we first tried to do these photos with Molly and Riley in cute little outfits in front of our Christmas tree, Molly was NOT having it. I tried all my tricks – we put music on, I gave her a candy cane prop, put her in a pretty, pink sparkly new dress, I even give her fruit snacks! But she just wasn’t in the mood. So we decided to abandon the idea. But even though it wasn’t working we did get a couple cute pics as you can see from the pics in this blog post.. But because she was having such a hard time with it we decided to try something completely different and that’s when we changed locations to upstairs in our bedroom, put her in some comfy PJs, and let her play on the bed! So because toddlers can be unpredictable, I definitely recommend always having an option B! Especially because if you’re taking holiday photos you probably hired a photographer and invested some money in it and it would be a shame if you walked away without a cute photo of you and your family.
When All Else Fails – Fruit Snacks
Remember how I said above that you don’t necessarily have to bribe your children with candy and cupcakes? Well, sometimes bribery really will do the trick! There have been times when I REALLY wanted Molly to smile for a picture. For example, when I put her in her Halloween costume, or for Easter when I dressed her up like a bunny and wanted a cute photo. But she just wouldn’t smile. I tried all of my tricks that I just listed and nothing was working. That’s when I broke out the fruit snacks! Not everyone’s going to agree with this. But I am not above bribery! Ha! I say let me see your teeth and show me a big smile for a fruit snack! And sure enough she will smile so big and I will get that perfect picture! Plus, we give her pretty healthy fruit snacks. So even though she thinks it’s a treat, it’s not really. Oh, and we call her chewable vitamins candy. So sometimes the fruit snack I gave her is actually just a chewable vitamin. Btw, Riley’s face in the below photo is the BEST!
Order Your Cards From Minted to Make Your Life Easier!
And look, none of these tips and tricks are ironclad. They won’t always work. And sometimes you just have to be OK with that. Or sometimes you go at it for a good hour to and eventually get something. But it can be exhausting! That’s why this year I wanted our holiday card ordering process to be super easy (taking the photo is hard enough)! When my friends told me about Minted’s text Us Your Photo service, I was immediately sold! All you do is text the photo you would like to use on your card to Minted at 415-915-CARD (2273) and they will text you back 5 different holiday card options that were specifically chosen for your photo! And it’s totally free!
In the past, I’ve spent hours on websites trying to choose a holiday card design. And to be completely honest with you, when I sent the text to Minted, I was almost positive I wasn’t going to like the designs they chose. But they totally proved me and my skepticism wrong because I absolutely loved two of the options they sent back! They sent me back this option and this option. And I’m honestly kind of still torn on which one to order because I like them both so much! So I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to ask you guys to help us choose! I’m not even going to think about it and completely let you decide. Vote in the comments below! Do I go with this white and gold design or this simple white design? I love the simplicity of both cards. The card that gets the most votes is the one I’m gonna order tomorrow and I will share the one I pick on my Instagram story with you guys once it arrives! And help me choose a photo too! My top 4 pics are the 4 photos below! Which do you think we should choose?!
And obviously the style and design you choose for your holiday photos will depend on what kind of picture you have! If you have a picture with a lot of warm tones in it, you might want a card with warm tones. If you have a photo with cooler tones you might go with silver or blue in your design. Whatever you pick will be amazing! And if you wanna know the designs that I love most, I am sharing a few more of my favorites below.
Good luck taking your Holiday card photos!!!!!
Thank you for sponsoring this post Minted!!!