Keep your camera handy
A lot of great photo opps have been missed because my camera was all the way on the other side of the house, or not charged! I started keeping my camera charged, with a memory card, and in the same central location in my house. That way, when my toddler suddenly thinks plugging her own nose is the most hilarious thing on the planet, I have time to capture the giggles before she moves on.
Prime the conditions
Toddlers won't smile if they're not in a good mood! It's also hard for them to understand that you'll have dinner soon, if they can just smile and be happy for ten minutes beforehand. I always try to avoid photoshoots right before bedtime, or when they're super hungry.
Follow them around
Gone are the days where good pictures have to be formal, posed, and with a perfect studio backdrop. I've had huge success following toddlers around, being silly with them, and becoming interested in what they like. When they're in a natural environment, real smiles will come easily!
Have a parent jump in the picture
This is my trump card and number one tip! The easiest way to get a toddler to smile is to have one of their parents or a sibling play with them. Twirl around with them, tickle them, or chase them. This is also a great way to capture toddlers interacting with their favorite people, and makes for really sweet and memorable photos.
Self-respect and dignity? Yeah, you don't have that when you're trying to get a toddler to smile. Play peek-a-boo from behind the camera (great for younger toddlers), whack yourself in the head with a soft toy, or make a big show of trying to find your thumb (great for older toddlers). Guaranteed to make them laugh!
(above picture by Kaycie Eddie Photography)
The best shots aren't always smilingMany of my favorite pictures of toddlers don't involve a smile. I love capturing the little details and candid shots that show their personality. If you don't get a good smiling shot right when you want it, that's okay!
What would you add?
Tips and tricks that get your toddler to smile?
Related: How to help your baby smile for the camera