Infant and toddler photo shoots are fun and creative ways to capture baby’s first few years, and the use of props can help liven up the scene. There are thousands of different props that can be incorporated into an infant or toddler photo shoot, and it can be difficult to know what will work best for this age demographic.
The best props for infants and toddlers should emphasize the baby’s comfort and safety. Props should be simple and understated to keep the focus on the baby. Props don’t have to be objects – they can also be parents or siblings.
Prop needs for infants and toddlers will be slightly different. Since infants are so small, it’s important to find a prop that highlights the infant without swallowing them up. Toddlers are more interactive, so finding props to keep them entertained and smiling is key. It can be tough to find props that achieve these needs and emphasize safety while not breaking the bank, but the props listed below will have you covered.
What Are the Best Props for Infant and Toddler Photo Shoots?
Below is a list of the 12 best props for infant and toddler photos along with ideas on how to incorporate them into photo shoots.
- Use Wooden Letters and Numbers
- Use a Simple Woven Basket
- Create a DIY Chalkboard
- Find Fresh Flowers
- Use a Favorite Stuffed Animal
- Accessorize with a Cute Hat or Headband
- Try Themed Ties or Tutus
- Add Some Fun with Bubbles
- Look to Mom and Dad for Prop Inspiration
- Use Seasonal Props
- Let Baby Bare It All
- Focus on Just Mom and Dad
- Include Older Siblings
Use Wooden Letters and Numbers
Not every parent possesses the artistic eye to create a Louvre-worthy backdrop for their child’s photo shoot. That's where you come in. In fact, just a few strategically placed wooden letters or numbers is all you need to create an art-free masterpiece. You can spell out the child’s name or use numbers to show their age. This is a great prop idea for monthly or annual photos!
Wooden numbers and letters are relatively cheap and easy to find at most craft stores. Unfinished wood creates a rustic, natural look, so there’s no need to paint if you don’t want to. Place the wooden blocks next to the infant on a cute blanket or give them to the toddler to play with for a fun, authentic photo shoot.
Use a Simple Woven Basket
Inexpensive and easy to find, a woven basket is the perfect prop to plop the little one down for an adorable photo shoot. Baskets come in a huge variety of shapes and colors, so you can easily find one to fit the baby’s personality. Got a snoozer on your hands? Place a blanket at the bottom of the basket to make a make a sweet and cozy bed.
Create a DIY Chalkboard
A chalkboard is an excellent budget-friendly way to have an interactive photo shoot with the toddler. Small chalkboards and chalk can be found at most craft stores, and you can get as creative as you want once you have your tools. Get the toddler more involved in the shoot by giving them a piece of chalk to play and draw with (as long as they don’t put it in their mouths).
A DIY chalkboard is also relatively easy and can add extra sentimental value to a photo shoot. If you have old family photo frames or mirrors, this is an excellent option. Check out this tutorial (or see below) for a quick and easy demonstration.
Find Fresh Flowers
Flowers are the perfect prop to add a natural feel and a pop of color to an infant or toddler photo shoot. For infants, create a flower garland or a giant wreath to place around the baby. For toddlers, give them a bouquet or single flower to hold and smell.
Flowers are extremely versatile and can be used in conjunction with many other props to add color and contrast. If the baby is going to be in a basket or a bucket, put some additional ones with flower bouquets in the background. You can also make a flower crown or boutonniere for the little one to wear for an outdoor photo shoot.
Use a Favorite Stuffed Animal
Stuffed animals can offer a source of calm and comfort for babies who might be overwhelmed at a photo shoot. They’re also a great prop to show a size scale as the child grows from infant to toddler, so they can be used repeatedly in photo shoots over the years.
Accessorize with a Cute Hat or Headband
These props are simple, snuggly, and don’t need any additional background props to make the little one stand out. Hats and headbands are adaptable to the seasons as well. A wintertime photo shoot can be kept cute and comfy with knitted beanies, while a summertime session can be kept adorably cool with baseball caps or floral headbands. When choosing a hat or headband for the baby, there are a few considerations to keep in mind.
The last thing you want to have to worry about on photo day is a fussy baby who is uncomfortable in a mis-sized had or headband. Make sure you’ve tried the hat or headband on the baby before taking photos to make sure it’s sized appropriately and that they are comfortable.
An uncomfortable material on a hat or a headband will more than likely lead to a meltdown before long. Every baby is unique in what materials they will tolerate, so make sure the little one isn’t bothered by or sensitive to the fabric before you get the camera rolling.
Giant pom-poms on beanies and large flower accents on headbands may look adorable, but they can potentially throw off proportions and distract from the focus of the shoot. The baby should always be the main focus of the camera, so make sure any embellishments on hats or headbands don’t take over the shot.
Try Themed Ties or Tutus
A miniature necktie or a tiny tutu is a little prop that can go a long way! Like hats and headbands, these props can stand on their own without much additional fluff, and they’re easy to make or buy. They can also be personalized to relate to mom and dad – for example, a tie could have the colors of a parent’s favorite sports team, or a tutu could be made out of mom’s old prom or wedding dress.
Add Some Fun with Bubbles
Bubbles are the perfect prop idea for toddlers who just won’t to stay still. They’re budget-friendly and can provide endless entertainment for a rambunctious toddler. They are also an excellent option if you’re going for a more candid-style photo. Catch a sweet reaction as the little one pops a bubble or get a quick snapshot of them trying to blow the bubbles themselves.
If you’re going to use bubbles during a photo shoot, make sure you choose a brand that is non-toxic. It’s fun to let the toddler try to blow the bubbles themselves, but you need to be sure anything they might ingest won’t be harmful. Some of the best non-toxic brands of bubbles are:
Another consideration when using bubbles is your background. You’ll want to choose a darker background so the bubbles will appear in the photo. If you’re outside, choose a shady spot that won’t wash out the baby or the bubbles.
Look to Mom and Dad for Prop Inspiration
This is a great option for using props that you already have on hand and will create a personalized and sentimental photo shoot. Moms and dads can get inspiration from:
- Religious Values
- High School or College Sports Teams
For example, parents who love to travel could set up a map-themed photo shoot, or a parent who is a firefighter could use their gear for props.
You can also look beyond mom and dad for inspiration and use items given from grandparents or other family members. A knitted blanket from a grandmother or a family heirloom can be heartfelt additions that will be appreciated by more than just mom and dad.
Use Seasonal and Holiday Props
If you’re struggling to come up with a theme for the infant/toddler photo shoot, look to the seasons for some inspiration. You can create seasonal decorations based on the time of year the baby was born or choose a holiday that’s important to the family to set the scene. Below are some easy and fun prop ideas based on the seasons.
Spring is a time of growth and new beginnings, so look to nature for some inspiration in this season.
- Rain Gear – Get a cute set of rain boots and an umbrella and take the tyke out to the mud puddles for a fun rainy-day photo shoot. Turn an umbrella upside down and pad it with blankets for a cute rainy day-themed infant photo.
- Picnic Gear – Grab a picnic blanket and a straw basket and head outside for smorgasbord of cuteness. For a great infant photo, get a large basket it pad it with another blanket for a sweet picnic basket cradle.
Take advantage of long summer days spent playing outside by capturing the little one in action during their favorite playtime activities.
- Kiddie Pool or Sprinkler – Nothing compares to the joy of a toddler playing in a sprinkler, so catch it on camera! Find a fun swim outfit and baby sunglasses for a little extra dose of cute. For infants, let them comfortably lounge in an inflated pool tube while you snap away.
- Ice Cream – It’s going to be messy, but it’ll be well worth the sweet results! Head outside to make sure the melty goodness doesn’t stain any surfaces.
There are opportunities abound to get wonderful photos in the picturesque fall light. Look to autumn leaves for color inspiration.
- Pumpkins – There is no shortage of pumpkins in the fall, so turn the family haul into the perfect stage for a photo session. Let the toddler paint a pumpkin that they can hold or play with, or head to a pumpkin patch for a perfect pumpkin-themed stage. Infants can snooze on a fall-themed blanket surrounded by pumpkins and gourds.
- Leaf Piles – All you need is a rake and some smiles to make this adorable photo shoot idea a reality. Pile up some colorful fall leaves and capture the toddler playing. Smaller
- Baskets – Babies can sit in a basket or bucket surrounded by leaves.
You can always find an excuse to bundle up the baby in snuggly winter outfits. Complete the look with holiday-themed props to create a cozy photoshoot.
- Pine Trees – Bundle the babe up and head to the woods or a pine tree farm to capture the little one among the evergreens.
- Holiday Cookies – This is a great option for a parent-toddler photo shoot. Let the toddler help the parent bake holiday cookies, and then get to the eating! This can also be a great idea for siblings, as long as you’re prepared for the potential mess.
Let Baby Bare it All
A newborn photo shoot should focus first and foremost on the baby, and sometimes frilly or overdone props can distract the viewer from focusing fully on the newborn. The best way to avoid this issue is to do away with the props all together. A sleek and simple black and white photo can speak volumes when staged well. An added bonus – nothing will get ruined if the babe decides to take a mid-photo potty break!
Focus on Just Mom and Dad
No toy, bed, or blanket compares to the comfort of being held by mom or dad. Create a sweet and sentimental photo that focuses solely on the bond between mom, dad, and baby without any distractions. Here are a few of the best ways to incorporate the parents into a photo:
- Parents’ Hands
- Facial Close-Ups
- Reading to Baby
- Playing Outside
Focus on Parents’ Hands
This is a fantastic option for newborn photography and will keep the focus on the newborn while also highlighting the bond between baby and parent. Create a makeshift cradle with the parent's arms and hands for the newborn to settle into for a simply sweet photo. Even if the baby decides to take an impromptu bathroom break, you’ll have funny candids to laugh over for years to come!
Capture Emotion Through Facial Close-Ups
This is another great idea for parents with newborns that can capture the intense and beautiful emotions of having a new baby. Place mom and dad’s heads together in profile with baby in the middle for an intimate photo that captures the bond of a new family.
Highlight a Quiet Moment Reading to Baby
This is a great option for a slightly older baby or toddler. Photographing mom or dad reading to their little one is a wonderful way to capture a quiet and intimate moment in the midst of the craziness of having a toddler. Choose a favorite book and create a cozy reading nook with comfortable pillows and stuffed animals to create a relaxing scene for you and the little one.
Find Some Smiles by Playing Outside
Take advantage of some good outdoor lighting and create a playful photo shoot outside. Create a playful moment with the little one holding mom and dad’s hands or go for a more intimate scene with snuggles in the grass or a field of flowers.
Include Older Siblings
Siblings can have a difficult time adjusting to a new or young baby in the family and may sometimes feel ignored or left out. Doing a photo shoot with the infant or toddler and their older siblings will create a fun bonding experience and allow older children to feel like they are being included in something special that isn’t all about the new baby.
Finding the Right Props
It’s easy to get carried away with exciting prop ideas for an infant or toddler photo shoot, but there are a few things you need to keep in mind when to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible. Here are some important things to remember when choosing props.
Always Emphasize Safety First
The safety of the infant or toddler is the most important consideration above everything else. Toddlers will put just about anything into their mouths, so make sure any handheld props you are using are non-toxic and don’t have sharp or hard edges. Be cognizant of hard surfaces and edges on standing props, and make sure they are secured so that a toddler can’t push or pull them over.
When it comes to infants, keep them as close to the ground as possible. Hammocks and swings are enticing, but there is an increased chance that the infant could fall. Use blankets and other padded surfaces to protect the infant’s head and neck.
Do Your Best to be Eco-Friendly
This consideration goes hand-in-hand with safety when it comes to mouthy toddlers. If you’re using handheld props, opt for eco-friendly materials that won’t be toxic for the toddler. If you’re using a blanket or swaddle for the infant photos, eco-friendly materials will be less likely to irritate the baby’s skin.
Keep Purchases Cost-Effective
While it can be fun to splurge on cute new items for the baby’s photo shoot, many photo props are only single-use, and may not have a function outside of the photo shoot. In order to save money, look for props that can be used in the baby’s daily life such as blankets or beloved toys. You can also take advantage of items already in the house, like baskets or books.
Find Props That Will Have Longevity
Many parents like to do monthly photos for the first few years of their baby’s life, but finding new props for every picture can be costly and time-consuming. Instead, opt for props that can be used in multiple photos, such as a stuffed animal or numbered wooden blocks. These props can show the scale of the baby’s growth while allowing you to save time and money trying to find new props.
How Do I Know Which Props to Choose for the Baby?
There’s no right or wrong when it comes to choosing a theme for the baby’s photo shoot as long as you’re always emphasizing safety. With the obvious exception of wrong being defiance of parent's wishes.
There are hundreds of different ways to create fantastic infant and toddler photos, with props or without. However, having these 12 prop suggestions in your arsenal will ensure that whatever photo shoot you choose to do will be safe, adorable, and fun for the entire family.