Cleveland child photographer

Tips for Milestone Sessions

Tips for Milestone Sessions
Olivia at her 4 month, 8 month, one year and two year Milestone Sessions

There are a handful of questions I hear repeatedly when parents contact me regarding milestone sessions. What should baby wear? When should I schedule the session? What if baby can’t sit up yet? The list goes on. So I thought I would take a few minutes to go over the most commonly asked questions in hopes of putting your mind at ease. Below are my best tips for milestone sessions during baby’s first year.

I’ll start off by saying, you know your child best. While I may have some suggestions based of my many years of experience, you know what will work best for your family. So take my thoughts with a grain of salt.

How old should my baby be for a milestone session? 
I offer all sorts of milestone sessions — any age really. Your baby will change so much in the first year and there are so many milestones to capture. My favorite is a sitter session, which can be anywhere from 6-9 months of age typically. Some parents also love to capture the tummy stage, around 3-4 months. And then there’s the can’t-miss first birthday session.  In fact, CWP offers a First Year Membership — a set of 2 or 3 milestone portrait sessions through baby’s first year to document all those precious milestones. Contact me if you’d like more information on that.

I recommend scheduling your session at least 4-6 weeks before you’d like to have it. That way I can ensure a spot in my schedule. If you need a weekend spot, then definitely give me extra notice as those spots fill up quickly.

What time of day should I schedule my session?
Naps come first! They were a necessity in my household and we planned everything around them. I realize not every baby sticks to a schedule, but do keep in mind when baby typically rests and when baby is typically happy. Some babies love mornings, some love mid afternoons, etc. Take a minute to think about when your baby is happiest and let’s try to schedule your session at that time of day.

Should we do an outdoor session or studio session?
I tend to find little babies do best in the studio … so younger than one year is probably best inside. However, that’s not set in stone. If your baby is sitting well on his/her own, crawling and doesn’t mind grass (that’s definitely been an issue in the past!), then we can certainly do some photos outdoors.

Babies one year and older do great in both options. Being outdoors exploring is a great way to keep their interest peaked. But a studio session can offer a variety of backgrounds and setups. Obviously weather comes into play as well … I typically only shoot outdoors from May through October.

What if my baby isn’t sitting up yet? Or standing … or walking … you get the point. 
Every baby progresses at a different pace. I have poses we can do at any age and will absolutely take baby’s age and abilities into account when setting up for your session. Some parents like to wait to schedule their session until baby hits a specific milestone, such as sitting on his/her own. This can happen anywhere between 6-9 months, or even after. So it’s up to you whether we wait until baby has hit that milestone or if you really want photos done at a specific age.

My baby has stranger anxiety – what should I do?
I’ve found that most baby’s around 10-12+ months have a bit of stranger anxiety. And even those who don’t … bring them into a new place (my studio) with a new face (me!) and they aren’t quite sure how to react. I am more than happy to take some time and let baby acclimate. Some just need a few minutes to check out their surroundings. Others need 15-20 minutes where we sit on the floor and play before they relax. And others are on the go from the moment they arrive, so I work fast! Whatever your baby needs, I am happy to oblige.

What should my baby wear?
This is one I hear a lot. And there are so many answers, that it might be easier to just list out some basic suggestions…

  • Avoid neon/bright colors near the face (ie. bright orange shirt, neon stripes, etc) as colors tend to reflect onto the face
  • Make sure baby’s clothes fit snug/well — clothes that are too big will look sloppy and will ride up over their face
  • Layers can be really cute, but can also overwhelm a small child (before they’re able to sit up/stand) so keep that in mind when adding thick sweaters or a puffy vest. Try everything on your child first before bringing them in for your session.
  • Feel free to show their (and your) style. Patterns and colors are great if you like them. If not, feel free to keep it simple. Baby’s under one year are also super cute naked or partially naked if you like showing off their skin.

CWP offers a growing client closest for her littlest clients. If your baby is 4-9 months, you are welcome to borrow from it. I have a ton of darling rompers, dresses, pants, etc. Some are very stretchy and can fit up to 12 months. I’m happy to send you some quick photos of what I have that might work for your baby … just ask.

My baby is turning one — should I bring a smash cake?
You absolutely can! Cakes are usually a fun addition to a first birthday session and can grab a child’s attention at the end of the session as it’s starting to fade. But sometimes they do not go as planned. Most of the babies I have in my studio do not “dive into” their cake as it might appear. Many are helped along by the parents. If your child HATES getting messy, a cake might not be the best option for their session. And I strongly suggest, if they’ve never had sweets before, to give them a practice round before coming in for their session (a few bites of ice cream or a cupcake). See how they react and that might help you decide if you want to bring one to their session. Some other alternative options I’ve seen are: spaghetti, pancake or watermelon smashes if you’d prefer to avoid cake/sweets.

I hope some of these tips for milestone sessions helped you! Don’t hesitate to ask if you have any other questions.

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