27 Photos to Take of Your Kid Before They Reach Their Tweens

Kids grow up so fast. Here are ideas for photo moments that capture the amazing journey.

Back in the day when capturing a moment meant deliberately keeping a (film!) camera at the ready, our collections of childhood photos were finite.

Holidays and special occasions got top billing. However, it’s the random candids that stand out in memory- the photos our parents snapped simply because they didn’t want to forget how we once were.

They endure in disorganized (though not bottomless) shoeboxes, and neatly arranged in gold embossed photo albums.

These days, there are few moments that pass by without someone whipping out a phone to capture it. And with the ease of snapping, comes an overwhelming volume of output.

But how many of these files are we ever going to print, let alone look at ever again? What are the chances we’ll haul out dusty hard drives and even have the ability to see what’s on them? 

It stands to reason we’d all benefit from capturing these fleeting moments more thoughtfully. Approach the photographing of childhood less like the paparazzi, and more like a documentarian.

Here are 27  shots that you (and your kids) will love to look back on.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]1. Newborn feet[/su_highlight]

infant toes wrapped in blue blanket

Listen, they’re not going to be that cute forever. (Or look even remotely as miraculous and amazing for long.)

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]2. First birthday cake smash[/su_highlight]

baby with hands in birthday cake

There are few times in a person’s life when going elbows deep into a pile of frosting is going to be deemed acceptable. Make this one count.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]3. Less than Sunday best[/su_highlight]

Sure, they look fantastic when they’re all dressed up. But the true representation of childhood? They’re often a hot mess. Snap a few of the less than shiny days.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]4. First bike[/su_highlight]

little girl on bike with training wheels

This photo is as much for you as it is for them. Do you remember the sheer awesomeness of your first bike? Chances are you remember it in detail whether you have a photo of it or not. (And if you don’t, I’m sure you wish you did.)

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]5. Bathtime mohawk[/su_highlight]

little girl laying in bathtub

A classic.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]6. Favorite lovey[/su_highlight]

sleeping little girl clutching mouse

There’s always going to be something they refuse to sleep/eat/leave the house without. Whether it’s for a matter of weeks, or years, looking back on the things that really mattered to them is about as nostalgic as it gets.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]7. Candid interactions with friends[/su_highlight]

two little girls hugging

There is really nothing sweeter than two small people interacting with each other. (Well, except for the times they’re clubbing each other in the head with toys or screaming about who had what first.) And what better fodder for their future #TBT posts than photographic evidence of their squad from back in the day?

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]8. Bedtime reading[/su_highlight]

two kids reading bedtime stories

Bedtime is often overlooked as a time worth documenting. Likely because anything that potentially slows down the process seems like sabotage. However, a photo to recall the cozy snuggles is worth the risk.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]9. Hand holding[/su_highlight]

dad and toddler hands

Because one day you’re going to realize you can’t remember the last time they spontaneously held your hand. And you’ll be the awkward person crying on the elevator.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]10. Favorite spots[/su_highlight]

silhouette of kid on swing

That little rickety dock they fished off at the lake each summer, the rope swing at the local apple orchard, the biggest rock in the park that played everything from spaceship to castle. Think of the little places that seem so much a part of now. As time goes by, their memory weaves itself into the fabric of a childhood.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]13. Little person, big world[/su_highlight]

kid in field at a distance

It doesn’t always have to be a close up. Collect some images that convey just how big their world once seemed.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]14. Tantrum[/su_highlight]

toddler in a tutu having a tantrum

They aren’t always in top form. In fact, they’re often NOT in top form. Keep it real.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]15. Sleeping in unusual places[/su_highlight]

sleeping baby

Because napping doesn’t always happen at the most convenient times and some kids can sleep anywhere. (This could be a series that lasts a lifetime, truthfully.)

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]16. That silly thing that only they do[/su_highlight]

toddler helping in the kitchen with headphones

Maybe it’s their patented scowl, or their insistence on wearing sound canceling headphones to make smoothies. Whatever it is, photograph it.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]17. Eating things. Messily.[/su_highlight]

toddler eating messy popsicle

Because they’re going to outgrow it. Hopefully.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]18. Being brave[/su_highlight]

Collect photos that empower them. Everyone likes to look back and realize they’ve always been a badass.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]19. At the beach[/su_highlight]

little girl with sand pail at the beach

Especially that first time they see the ocean. And refuse to touch the sand with their actual body. (Or insist on being up to their neck in it. Depends on the kid, I suppose.)

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]20. Making a mess[/su_highlight]

kids making a mess in playroom

Lots of opportunity for this one. Legend has it, you miss these days when they’re over.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]21. Sick day[/su_highlight]

sick toddler with crackers

If someone tried to take my photo the last time I was sick, I’d have summoned every ounce of strength I didn’t know I had and roundhoused that phone right out of their inconsiderate hand. That’s because I’m an adult. However, when our kids are sick, it’s often supremely sweet.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]22. Doing their thing (cooking, art, sports)[/su_highlight]

little girl singing and playing ukulele

Sometimes, it’s easy to see from day one what a kid was simply born to do. These will come in handy when compiling the photo montage for their episode of “Behind the Music” or their their first James Beard Award Ceremony.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]23. Crying[/su_highlight]

toddler crying in snow

Because it’s not always sunshine and roses. You may have to take this in stealth mode as to not escalate the already devastating situation, but it could end up a family favorite.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]24. New trick[/su_highlight]

little girl blowing a bubble

They won’t even protest this one. In fact, they may ask you take to 400.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]25. Crazy dressed[/su_highlight]

little girl in purple tutu

Sometimes you can’t leave the house unless you’re wearing a tutu. Or a cape. Or underwear on your head.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]26. With people who are special to them[/su_highlight]


We always snag photos of the kids with the usual suspects. Grandma, Grandpa, Aunts and Uncles. But there are plenty of people who have a real impact on relatively small swaths of life. Librarians and teachers, nurses and shopkeepers. Take photos that spark memories of those we love all too briefly.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]27. Know when the scene is ripe for a posed photo.[/su_highlight]


Sometimes, it just can’t be helped. (Here are my rules: Not too busy, interesting textures, pops of color.)