Basically there's no simple recipe for photographing toddlers and babies. They generally don't take direction, they don't stay still, they make strange, and sometimes they don't want their photo taken at all. The most important factor for me when photographing these little ones, is to make sure that they have fun and to bring props and toys for them to interact with and focus on. If the photo-shoot has a fun atmosphere and the toddler is allowed to be themselves and run around, or do as they please, then the photographs will will be fun and natural. I never tell a child to sit still and smile , they can smile if they want, and then they do smile it will be their natural smile and not their 'cheeeeese' smile! we can all tell the difference right?
Last month I had a photo session with a gorgeous 2 year old and her baby sister. My bag had some toys, some blankets , balloons and a bubble machine. The bubble machine worked wonders! Nothing more fun to a 2 year old girl than sunshine, laughs and bubbles flying everywhere. This helped me capture their gorgeous natural smiles and their faces of childhood wonder. We finished up the photo-shoot on a swing set, it was the baby's first ever time on a swing and it a privilege to capture this cuteness!
So when photographing toddlers and babies- I let them be themselves, bring things to keep their attention so that I can silently compose and direct them a little to get the photograph, but always keep it an enjoyable experience :-)