Tip #1: Give the toddler somewhere to sit.
This tip is especially important for younger toddlers, who have learned to walk recently enough that they do it every waking minute. It’s really hard to get your photos in focus if you’re chasing an 18 month old around the room. It’s much simpler if you provide somewhere for the child to sit – a stool, rocking horse, stump, bench, chair, etc. Have your camera out and ready before you sit the toddler down because he may only stay there a moment or two – but even a few moments of stillness is better than running around like a crazy person snapping photos while calling to the kid to please just stop and look! (not that I’ve ever done that…)
Tip #2: Give her something to hold.
You might have your daughter trapped on a stool that she can’t get down from, but that doesn’t mean she’s going to look at you or smile at you. Be prepared with a small toy (or grab a leaf or flower it you’re outside). Hand the item to the toddler and give her a few minutes to look at and play with it. Then just wait, camera at the ready, until she looks up at you to share her delight – then capture the expression.
Tip #3: Give her something to look at.
Toddlers seem to know you want them to look at you, but do everything in their power to avoid making actual eye contact. Wheedling, threatening, and bribing occasionally work, but giving them something interesting to look at works better. Did you know that if you file down the feet of a Pez dispenser just a bit it fits into the external flash attachment of your dSLR? No kidding. It’s fantastic. Pick a princess Pez or a Lightning McQueen Pez and stick him on top of your camera, then show your child that the Pez gives out candy for kids who look at him