Family Photos with a Napping Toddler: Tips and Tricks

fall family photos with toddler

 The Challenge of Annapolis Family Photos with a Napping Toddler

As parents, we know that naptime is sacred when it comes to our napping toddler. It’s a time for rest, rejuvenation, and a bit of sanity for us. But what do you do when you’ve scheduled an Annapolis family photoshoot, and it falls right in the middle of your toddler’s naptime? We can all envision how are session with a cranky toddler might unravel. After all the planning, the outfits purchased, the back and forth with the photographer, the getting ready, it all comes down to the powerful two year old and how they will feel during family photos. And now, your photographer is asking you to take your Annapolis family photos during witching hour. Your gut is worried. How will family photos go when your napping toddler is not napping? Will your child be screaming in every family photo?  In this guide, we’ll explore the best strategies for ensuring your little one’s sleep schedule remains intact while still capturing beautiful Annapolis family photos.

mom and toddler in a Maryland field

 The Timing Dilemma: Evening Photoshoots vs. Sunrise Sessions

Annapolis Family photoshoots often occur in the evening, when the lighting is soft and golden. However, if you have a napping toddler, this timing can pose a challenge. Here’s a breakdown of the two options:

annapolis maternity photo in field

Evening Family Photo Session with a napping toddler


  • Beautiful, warm lighting
  • Convenient for working parents
  • More relaxed pace during the day


  • May interfere with toddler’s naptime
  • Tired and potentially cranky toddler
  • Limited window for optimal lighting

toddler in chair in Kent Island Maryland field

Sunrise Sessions  Family Photo Session with napping toddler


  • Gorgeous, soft morning light
  • Cooler temperatures in warmer months
  • Toddlers are well-rested and more cooperative


  • Early wake-up call
  • Requires careful planning
  • Limited availability for photographers

young girl in hat and mittens frowning at camera

Preparing for a Sunset Session with a Napping Toddler

Sunset really is the best time for your Annapolis family photo session in terms of lighting. The evening session is cooler in warmer months, you can have your session during the week if needed, and the lighting, most importantly, is flattering. This option offers more freedom for photo locations for your family photo session. If an evening photoshoot is your only option, here are some strategies to help prepare and manage your  napping toddler and their schedule:

1. Adjust Naptime Slightly

Consider pushing your toddler’s naptime back by 30 minutes to an hour on the day of the photoshoot. This can help ensure they are well-rested but not overly tired during the session. You may want to let your napping toddler have a much longer nap so they are well rested staying up a little later. Hopefully the extra activity of your Annapolis family photo session will wear them out enough so they are happy to sleep in the evening.

maternity session in Annapolis field with little boy

2. Plan a Late Afternoon Snack

A light, healthy snack in the late afternoon can help boost your napping toddler’s energy and mood for the evening session. If you choose to bring snacks to your Annapolis family photo session, (and who of us doesn’t bribe our children in small increments for the greater good?), be sure to bring snacks that will not get them messy. fruit snacks, goldfish, crackers, apples, are all good options for a quick pick me up without leaving chocolate mouths. If you decide on bribing with M and Ms then be sure to have wipes handy and don’t let them melt in your hand.

3. Opt for a Shorter Session

Discuss with your photographer the possibility of a shorter Annapolis family photo session to accommodate your napping toddler and their schedule. A skilled photographer can capture wonderful moments in a shorter timeframe. When choosing this option, be sure to select a location that is close to the parking area. You don’t want to have to walk 20 minutes to your location, take 5 minutes of photos and walk 20 minutes back.

Personality photos in Kent Island Maryland

4. Bring Comfort Items

Pack your napping toddler’s favorite comfort items, such as a blanket or stuffed animal, to help them feel secure and comfortable during the shoot. Only bring these items out if necessary during your Annapolis family photo session. Otherwise, you may have a lot of photos with your napping toddler and their favorite stuffy and blanket. That being said, sometimes the images are all the sweeter because you are capturing your child where they are at that moment in their life for these Annapolis family photos. And that can make your photos all the more endearing in the years to come.

5. Choose a Farther Location

If you know your child sleeps well in the car, you may want to choose a location that will enable them to get a 45 minute nap in while driving. Just be sure that your napping toddler has a little extra time to wake up upon arrival. No one is all sunshine and smiles when they just wake up. Feel free to check out some past blog posts for some Maryland photography location ideas.

6. Choose an Indoor Location

Choosing an indoor location really frees up the timing for photos. You can potentially get great photos at any part of the day, thus ensuring the plan the entire session around your napping toddler. Some photographers have a studio, which is already perfectly set up for photos. There is no need to clean up your home, or wonder when the best light enters your favorite room. There are benefits to your home session as well. Your toddler can take lots of breaks and maybe more comfortable in their own home. You can also get a day in the life type photos, where you are just photographed doing fun things at home with your napping toddler and the rest of your family.

Big brother and baby photography session in Kent Island MD

The Beauty of Sunrise Sessions with a Napping Toddler

If your toddler’s nap schedule is non-negotiable, a sunrise photoshoot may be your best option. Here’s how to make the most of it:

1. Plan Ahead

Coordinate with your photographer to ensure you’re at the location before sunrise. This may require an early wake-up call, so plan accordingly. Be sure to arrive early. If you arrive directly at sunrise, you will be losing some of those most beautiful and colorful moments of your Annapolis family photos getting toddlers out of the car and walking to the location.

2. Dress for Comfort

Since sunrise sessions can be cooler, make sure your family is dressed warmly but comfortably. Layers are key. If you need some outfit ideas for family photos, you can check out my past blog post here.

mom and two sets of twins in field.

3. Bring Breakfast

Pack a picnic breakfast for your family, specifically your napping toddler. This can serve as both fuel and a fun bonding experience during the shoot. Just be sure to have the wipes handy so you are picture perfect for your session. Extra clothes can be needed as well depending on when you eat and what.  Nobody is happy when they are hungry.

4. Embrace the Moment

Sunrise sessions offer a unique and serene atmosphere that can result in breathtaking photos. Enjoy the quiet beauty of the early morning and let your toddler explore and play. One of the best benefits of an Annapolis family photo session during sunrise is the lack of people. You will most likely have the location all to yourself.

maternity mom and toddler photo in a field

 Keeping Your Toddler Happy During a Photoshoot

Regardless of the session time, keeping your napping toddler happy and engaged is essential for your Annapolis family photo session. Here are some tips:

1. Bring Snacks and Water

Pack your toddler’s favorite snacks and a water bottle to keep them fueled and hydrated. Just be sure the snacks aren’t too messy.

2. Plan for Breaks

Let your photographer know that you may need short breaks for your toddler to rest, eat, or play. Don’t expect your napping toddler to sit still and look at the camera for an hour. It is great to have some photos where everyone is looking at the camera, but some of the best moments are the ones where you are interacting together. These are the photos that toddlers excel at. Your teenager may do better looking at the camera. But a toddler needs to be free. Embracing these moments, even the ones where they may be a little sad, can just be a beautiful photo. Engage in play. Incorporate playtime into the photoshoot. Play with your toddler and capture those candid, joyful moments.

toddler girl on a farm running free

3. Be Patient

Understand that napping toddlers (all toddlers), can be unpredictable. Patience and flexibility are key to a successful session. Keep an open mind of how your Annapolis family photo session may go when photographing little ones. You may have a vision in your head, but be flexible and patient, and the experience and the photos will be all the better for it.

toddler boy with bear hat where the wild things are photo

Conclusion: Cherishing the Memories when taking your Annapolis family photo session.

Navigating family photos with a napping toddler may require some adjustments and creative planning, but it’s entirely possible to capture beautiful moments while keeping your little one’s sleep schedule intact. Whether you opt for an evening session with schedule tweaks or a stunning sunrise photoshoot, the most important thing is to cherish the memories you’re creating as a family.

Remember that these photos will serve as treasured keepsakes of your journey together, nap schedules and all. Embrace the beauty of the moment, and let your love shine through in every frame.

So, go ahead and schedule that Annapolis family photo session. —your toddler’s naptime and your cherished memories can peacefully coexist.