How to Prepare for a Stress-Free First Birthday Photoshoot

First birthday photoshoots are a beautiful way to document your growing little one. This milestone deserves to be celebrated and not stressed over. Here’s how to prepare for a stress-free first birthday photoshoot as well as some cute ideas for inspiration.

In this article, you will find:

  • 5 Tips to Prepare for a Stress-Free First Birthday Photoshoot
  • First Birthday Photo Prop Ideas
  • Inspiration + Ideas for Your First Birthday Photos

First birthdays are so special and such an amazing milestone to record. The first 12 months with your new baby are full of growth and change. It’s a beautiful time to get to know this little person that has forever changed your life. But the amazing thing is this is just the beginning.


1 | Choose the Perfect Photographer

This one might sound obvious but it is really the most important thing in having a great experience and getting gorgeous photos for your little one’s first birthday.

Not all photographers specialize in working with little kids, let alone toddlers. Choose a photographer that has a reputation for being great with kids. You can find this by asking for referrals or doing some research. Online reviews are a great place to look as well as viewing a photographers portfolio.

If there are many photos of little ones, you can assume it’s because they are great with them.

If you want to learn more about Choosing the Perfect Family Photographer – CLICK HERE

2 | Prioritize Naps and Food The Day of Session

A great photo session begins with great planning. You want to make sure you show up for your photo session ready for a great session. To prepare yourself and little one, make sure everyone is well fed and well rested. Naps are so important for this age as a tired toddler usually can’t “hold it together” for photos if needed. Make sure you prioritize naps that day and schedule the session around that.

3 | Choose a Cute But Comfortable Outfit

Comfort is key for a care-free happy little one. When you are picking out the perfect outfit for your photo session, keep comfort in mind. The last thing you want to do is choose an outfit that is itchy, too tight or distracting in any way.

The best way to avoid this is try the clothes on well in advance! Do not wait until the day before photos or else you will be scrambling last minute to find another outfit! [I CAN’T STRESS THIS ENOUGH]

If you have a little girl with a dress – don’t forget a diaper cover! Little girls are super wiggly at this age and a diaper cover is the perfect accessory to make their outfit more practical for the shoot. Your photographer will thank you!

One last point – shoes are NOT required! At this age, barefoot is super cute and sometimes more comfortable than new walker shoes. Don’t stress over finding the perfect shoe!

Great places to shop for your little one include:

4 | Invite a Grandparent or Friend as a Helper

At this age, there are usually just a few people that your little one knows and feels comfortable with. If you (the parent) will be in the photos, it’s usually a great idea to bring a grandparent or a familiar friend to help when it comes to the full family shots. Although your creative and goofy photographer will do all they can to spark attention, a grandparent can usually get the best smiles.

5 | Don’t Forget to Relax and Enjoy Your Family!

The best way to prepare for this session is to relax! Little ones can easily pick up on stress (just like babies for newborn sessions.) Take charge of the general mood by relaxing and going into your session with a carefree attitude. This will lighten the mood for all and make it an enjoyable session.

A great photographer will ensure that you get beautiful photos regardless of how wild or unpredictable you think your little one is. Most parents will stress about getting cooperation but trust me — we will get the photos you want and more!


First birthday photo sessions can be as styled or as simple as you like. If you want to add something special to celebrate this milestone for your little one, here are some ideas for my favorite props to add to your session:


First birthday cake smashes are signature for this age. Coordinate with whatever bakery you are using to make an additional smash cake for your photoshoot. Of course you can DIY but be sure to bring some small pedestal to sit the cake on.

This is usually done at the end of the session so that we can clean up and change clothes.

Here are some great bakeries to try for your smash cake photoshoot.

Bethel Bakery has unique and perfectly sized Itty Bitty Cakes. (Bethel Park, PA)

Scoops Pittsburgh (Bellevue, PA)

Mediterra Bakehouse offers beautiful custom creations to fit your first birthday theme. (Pittsburgh, PA)

Sweet Barn Bakery is an extremely talented custom cake creator. (Irwin, PA)


A simple balloon or small bunch of balloons can be a perfect prop or compliment to any first birthday photoshoot. I love grouping smaller balloons with a statement balloon like a single big round balloon, or a mylar number 1.

For an extra special touch, include a decorative string like ferns or leaves (shown below).

You can purchase a small helium tank from Target to blow these up on your own the day of the photoshoot or you can take them to any place that sells party balloons to have them inflated for you.


Want to create your own custom set up for photos? Check out the talented these talented Pittsburgh-based businesses that create custom scenes for your perfect first birthday photos.

My Pop Up Party

Pitch A Fete


Some photographers will bring a stool or a small prop that will help your little one with standing or sitting. This is so helpful for this age in particular as many first birthday shoots have little ones that are new walkers or just getting comfortable standing.


First birthday’s usually have the most elaborate and adorable themes. Don’t forget to include these in your photoshoot or at least do a quick outfit change for a few pics.


Looking for some inspiration for outfits, poses and props? Check out some of my favorite photos from first birthday photo sessions. Feel free to pin these for when you need them!

First birthdays are so special and one of the most popular milestones parents will record. I hope this guide is helpful in giving you some outfit ideas, tips to prepare for your big day and some props and inspiration for a great photo session.

Pinterest Inspiration Board + Feel free to save this or Pin this article for later!

If you loved this article, here are some other great ones to check out to make the most of your next photo session:

How to Choose the Perfect Family Photographer

Love Your Family Photo Session with These Simple Tips

Choosing the Perfect Outfits for Your Family Photos

If you are interested in booking a first birthday photo session, please let me know!

Always grateful,


Life moves too fast. Although we can’t slow it down, we can record the moments that fill our hearts and tell our story through photos and films. I am a Pittsburgh family photographer and film maker that helps families record their stories and pause some of life’s greatest moments.

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about Danielle Blewitt

Life Moves Too Fast!

Hi, I’m Danielle. I’m a Pittsburgh Family + Newborn photographer. As a mom of two, I know how fleeting the early years are. Since we can’t slow down time, we can record the moments that mean so much. I help Pittsburgh families hit pause by recording these memories in photographs and films and I would love to work with you. Let’s see what we can create!

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