No pressure to add monthly photos to your to-do list, but if you do here’s how to actually get the best snapshots of your growing baby

There’s nothing like monthly milestone photos to help you and your family see just how much your baby is changing and growing—and there’s no end to the cute ways you can showcase your little bean. But if you’re going to the effort (and by the way, no judgment if you opt out), you want the shots to look good, which can be a challenge with a sleepy newborn or a squirming six-month-old. We asked baby photographer Annie Brennand of Bee’s Portrait Photography for her best tips on getting pics you’ll be proud to share on Tinybeans (and ogle nostalgically for many years to come).

Set a monthly reminder

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You have enough on your mind raising a tiny human, so use technology (that is, your phone) to remind you to take the photo each month.

Choose the time of day strategically

A hungry or tired baby isn’t likely to cooperate. Plan your photoshoot for a time of day when your baby is usually pretty happy (probably after a solid nap and a good feed, but every baby is different).

Opt for natural light

“The best lighting is always natural light,” says Brennand. She recommends placing your baby close to a big window at whatever time of day the light shines in the most and turning off your overhead lights, which can cause an unnatural, unwanted color tint. Be sure to avoid a common lighting mistake: putting your baby between you and your light source (for example, taking a photo of them with their back to the sun or window). Too often, this will result in muddy-looking shadows and colors.

Pick an outfit with warm, neutral colors

Your little one will look adorable no matter what outfit you choose, but some colors are better on camera than others, says Brennand. She leans towards warm, neutral, muted clothing, especially whites, beiges, sage greens or muted blues, which she says brighten up the face and edit well if you choose to tweak the images afterwards. Consider dressing yourself in white, too, as your clothing will act as a light reflector to brighten the light in the space. “It will give that extra boost of light to your images,” says Brennand.

Embrace your own silliness

One of the best ways to get babies to look into the lens and smile for their monthly photos is a classic: peekaboo! “I use my camera in place of my hands and peek my face out either side, back and forth, and make the silliest noises imaginable,” says Brennand. She also recommends parents use toys like stuffies and rattles to keep kids’ attention. But her top tip for parents is to be over-the-top silly. “Don’t be afraid to dance around and get goofy!” she says. “My best photos come from parents losing all dignity behind the lens.”

Choose props judiciously

a baby lying next to a chalkboard with his age, size, milestones and things he loves for a monthly baby photo
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What should appear in the photo other than your baby? Brennand recommends using props that reflect your baby’s personality or are favorite items. “I always want to capture the true essence of a little one, and having their favorite items beside them reflects who they are and helps them feel comfortable.” Another option is using visual month markers, such as onesie stickers, printed blankets or letterboards. Using the exact same props every month will help you see differences in your baby, and will also help the photos look cohesive when grouped together. No matter what you choose, don’t go overboard with props, or you risk drawing attention away from your baby.

Use your phone’s fancy features

Most phones have easy-to-use features that can take your photos from good to great. Portrait mode is an easy way to elevate your images, for example, and iPhones’ live photos let you select the very best still within the short video. You can also play around with exposure and brightness, which will have a big impact on the final product. “Most iPhones and Androids allow you to correct the exposure before taking the image, which is really helpful in ensuring the highlights are not too bright,” says Brennand. On an iPhone, touch the screen anywhere until a yellow box appears and simply slide your finger up and down on the sun icon next to the yellow box.

Brennand’s final tip is one to keep in mind throughout your kid’s childhood: Get in the photos, mamas! “Monthly photos of just your baby are lovely, but make sure you document yourself with them at these stages too,” she says. “Setting up your self-timer on your phone and getting proof-of-mom is just as important.”

While getting to know your new arrival, there’s no better time to download the Tinybeans app. The secure platform allows you to share special moments with friends and family near and far and puts parents in total control of who sees and interacts with photos and videos of their littles.

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