Dad holding up his baby girl and kissing her cheek while she laughs during sunset family photos

7 Tips to Keep the Kids Awake and Happy For Sunset Family Photos

How to Prep for your Sunset Family Photos with Little Kids

Booking your session at sunset is the best time for family photos because it’s going to give you the best lighting but a lot of moms worry about keeping their kids up that late. So I’ve put together some tips to help!

Tip 1: Keep calm

When you’re preparing for a photo session, you tend to get a bit more stressed or high energy than usual. Your child can feel that energy and may not nap that day when you REALLY want them to. So do what you have to do to keep yourself calm. Don’t rush putting your toddler or baby down for their nap. Take your time, give them a bath, sing them a song, read them a story, whatever will help them to feel sleepy and calm.

family with two young kids hugging by rocks near portland oregon

Tip 2: Move bedtime later or push naps later than usual

If your child usually goes to sleep earlier than sunset, you could try moving their bedtime later gradually throughout the week before your session. Then gradually move it back afterwards.

Along the same lines, you can try to keep your child awake a bit longer than normal on your photo session day in hopes that they will be happier later in the evening.

evening family photos of mom and her two little girls

Tip 3: Make sure everyone has a full stomach

Hungry kids are not happy kids. Make sure everyone eats dinner a couple hours before your family photo session. You can also bring some non-messy snacks like grapes or apple slices in case someone gets hungry again.

Family playing together with mountains behind them

Tip 4: Dress the kids appropriately for the weather

You will definitely want to dress for the weather to ensure your kids are comfortable. When it’s hot out, lather your kids in sunscreen and show some skin. If the weather will be chilly, make sure that your child is covered up. Especially with babies and toddlers, their pants can ride up and not cover their legs so put thin leggings or extra tall socks under if they’re wearing pants. This happens more times than I can count! Cold little kid legs aren’t fun! Bring a hat for them if it will be super cold or windy to keep their ears warm. Plan layers.

Family of four in the Columbia River Gorge during family pictures

Tip 5: Choose a photo location that your kids have never been to

When there’s a new place to explore, kids generally will forget about sleep and will be interested in the new location. So rather than going to your favorite park around the corner, take one of your photographers suggestions for your family photo location and have a fun, new adventure with your family!

parents holding toddlers hand as she jumps while mom holds baby girl

Tip 6: Have a sneaky backup plan

You can do everything you can to make sure your little kids are happy and awake until sunset, but sometimes you need a backup item! Bring a favorite toy, stuffed animal, or blanket but don’t let your child know about it or see it. Then if the time comes that you’ve tried everything and they still aren’t happy, you can give it to them. Usually this item is not even needed, but it’s good to have just in case.

family dancing in the sunset during family photos

Tip 7: Hire a family photographer who brings the fun

When you choose a photographer who is play-based, they are going to have tons of fun things for your family to do together to keep everyone having a good time! Kids will be having such a great time, they will be begging for the session to continue once it’s over! P.S. that photographer is me ????????. If you’re looking for a Portland family photographer, get more info about the experience and pricing or check my availability.

Dad laughing with his daughters

Let’s recap!

How to keep your kids awake and happy for sunset family photos:

  • Keep yourself calm so your kids feed off that energy
  • Move bedtime later or push naps later than usual
  • Be sure that everyone eats dinner
  • Wear appropriate clothing for the weather
  • Choose a new location for the kids to explore
  • Have a backup toy, blanket, or stuffed animal
  • Hire a fun photographer! 
adorable, happy baby wearing yellow dress smiling at the camera
tips for how to have sucessful sunhset family photos with little kids babies and toddlers
little kid with joyfolie dress on
happy and awake little girl during sunset family photos
Family of four sitting on a blanket at sunset playing together
Mom and dad holding daughters as they look at each other and laugh
Mom holding three year old daughter while they laugh
Family of four holding hands and walking away from the camera at sunset

Mom’s dress is from Amazon. Older daughter’s dress is from Joyfolie and her sweater is from Amazon. Baby’s pinafore is from Amazon. (Amazon links are affiliate links so when you buy from them, I earn a very small commission.)

More tips for successful family photo sessions

How to Have a Relaxed Family Photo Session

Why I Want Your Kids to Misbehave During Your Family Photo Session

What Colors to Wear For Family Photos

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  1. These are all great tips and will make me feel more prepared! We are getting our photos done in a few weeks, I will definitely be using these tips when we go. THANKS!

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