How Not to Miss Photo Ops During Your Baby’s First Holiday Season

The holiday season is also the season for the perfect photo ops, right? From finding the perfect Christmas tree to all of those holiday baking photos, flour adorably positioned on your nose to friends and family gathering in front of the menorah, there are plenty of moments not to miss. 

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But there's just one problem. When you have a baby, he or she might not get the memo that you want those photo ops to be perfectly posed. So how do you ensure that you get the photos that will make your mama heart soar this season while also being realistic about the fact that you have a baby who will insist on being cranky/pooping/generally uncooperative at any thought of you trying to do something productive? 

Here are a few tips to keep in mind! 

photo ops
Image via Unsplash/ Carlos Martinez

Hire a pro. If you can, I highly recommend hiring a professional to take any holiday photos you want of your baby. Sure, it's easy to think you can do it yourself, but there's something about letting someone else handle the photos so you can handle the baby that makes all the difference. Arrange for an at-home shoot if you can, so you are comfortable with any unexpected poop explosions, outfit changes, and feedings that your baby will need. 

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Embrace the imperfect photos. Honestly, all of my favorite holiday photos are the imperfect, unstaged ones. We have the messy-hair-on-Christmas morning photos, the photo of my kids fighting in their Christmas outfits in front of the tree, and the one iconic photo my mother-in-law snapped of all of us on a holiday night out on the town when I was literally dropping a kid. The holidays, like life, are messy and imperfect, so just go with it!

Take the photos first. Every year, the second my kids are dressed in their Christmas clothes, I make them get a photo. I know the outfits and their enthusiasm will not last, so I make sure to at least try to get a nice photo before all hell breaks loose. And that way, they can bust into candy or ruin their outfits without making me cry. Merry Christmas ya filthy animals! 

Let's just admit that Santa is scary. If your family does Santa, let's just get one thing straight: most kids are terrified of the guy in the red suit. And rightly so. We don't necessarily want to teach our kids to be totally comfortable climbing on some old man's lap anyway, so a little skepticism and screaming is healthy. Don't ever force your kid to get on Santa's lap for a picture. 

Focus on one photo that's most important to you. If it's Santa, make it an event and be sure to be in the photo with your child so he/she is comfortable. If it's cutting down the tree, have someone else come with you to take the photo. Or if it's holiday baking, play photographer in the kitchen. Everyone has that “one” holiday memory that is most important, so focus on your favorites this season when your baby makes taking ALL the photos a little difficult. 

Think beyond the photo. I'll never forget my second daughter's first Christmas when I was so focused on getting the perfect Christmas card for her that I hosted an at-home photo shoot. I dressed both her and my toddler up in adorable Christmas dresses (purchased specifically for the occasion, of course). And I roped my brother into coming over to help me snap some photos. The whole thing was a disaster. First, she pooped through everything. Then I had to feed her approximately 10,048 times. Then the toddler got cranky and wandered away and pulled her hair out. By the time I finally got some photos, the baby had missed her nap, my toddler's hair was in a messy ponytail, and everyone was cranky and exhausted. 

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I look at those photos now and while they are undeniably adorable, all I can see in them is my baby's red-rimmed eyes. She was so exhausted and just wanted to nap. But instead, she's forcing a smile on her face, trying so hard to make her Mama happy. It breaks my heart and I wish I hadn't been so obsessed with the “perfect” photo that I had lost sight of actually taking care of my baby.  

Sometimes, it's not the photo that matters, but the memory, and that's something you can capture no matter how perfect the photo “op” is. 

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How Not to Miss Photo Ops During Your Baby’s First Holiday Season

Chaunie Brusie is a writer, mom of four, and founder of The Stay Strong Mom, a community + gift box service for moms after loss. ... More

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