Helping Photographers Understand the HOWS & WHYS behind Great Photography

Baby Modeling – 6 Things for Parents to Consider


Baby modeling is NOT for everyone!

It’s only for babies!  *hits drums* Ba-Dum-CH! 🙂

If you are the parent of an adorable little baby or toddler, congratulations!  I’m sure you are reading this article because people stop you all the time and tell you that your son or daughter should be the next Gerber Baby! (Click here to learn about the Gerber baby)

Not to take anything away from your child and their amazing cuteness, please understand that telling someone their kid is just so cute and they should be in advertising is a standard, polite, compliment to offer parents in a social situation.  Let’s be clear – that if the person who offered the compliment actually was qualified to make that judgment – they would probably be working in advertising and your child would most likely already be working as a baby model and you wouldn’t be reading this article.

Important things to consider about being a baby model or child model

1. Is your child good with strangers?
I am sure that your son or daughter has personality to spare when with you and your extended family, but how is he or she with total strangers?  Remember that modeling is a “hey look at me” business.

2. There is very little work for baby and child models.
But there is no shortage of parents who are chasing fame and fortune on their kid’s behalf.  In other words, it is actually a competitive genre.

Please be honest with yourself – you are considering sending your child to WORK.  Don’t kid yourself with the line “maybe we can do it just for fun”.  This is a business and everyone that your son or daughter comes in contact with is an adult who is working to pay their bills and support their family.  They are not doing it for fun.  That means that if you are not approaching this like a business, neither you nor your child will have much fun.

3. The pay sucks!
If you are thinking about building your child’s college fund from baby modeling revenue, you will likely be very disappointed.  Given that infants and toddlers are very unpredictable, clients will usually hire several kids for the same job.  The client will have each of the kids do the same thing and then pay them a small rate of $50 – $100 for the time they work.  The client will then pick the best images from the day and the kids whose photographs get used will receive a buyout which could range anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars for a national ad campaign.

4. Location is everything!
The majority of baby modeling and child modeling work is booked in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami.  If you live more than two hours from any of these cities, most agencies and clients will be very reluctant to work with you.  If you live in Oklahoma, don’t submit your child to a modeling agency in New York.  They have lots of cute kids in New York, they don’t need yours.

My advice is to NOT submit to agencies in distant cities unless you are willing to travel at your own expense, frequently with little to no notice (the notice for a casting could come just a few hours before the call time – especially in New York).

In smaller markets, the better modeling agencies will not sign infants and toddlers due to the lack of available work.  In the small markets, more often than not, a kid appearing in an ad or TV commercial is related to the client or other talent in the shoot (like a Mom).

HINT to Moms who are models:  If your kid is photogenic and likes the attention, give your agency a few good snapshots.  It could be the deciding factor in landing you a gig if the client needs a Mom with her kid.

Baby Modeling

5. Consider YOUR availability. This is frequently the deal breaker.  Baby modeling is part of the business of advertising.  Most of it happens from Monday through Friday between the hours of 9 – 5.  If your schedule doesn’t permit you to drop everything and go to a casting (your child doesn’t get paid for castings) or to a shoot, then it would be pretty foolish to submit your child to a modeling agency.  Unfortunately, all of those people who are WORKing for a living, will not schedule their work around your availability.

Also understand that your child doesn’t get paid for castings, auditions and go-sees, so that is time and travel expenses that you are investing on the chance that your kid gets booked for the job.  They only get paid when they do the job.  That payment, will usually arrive anywhere from 30 – 90 days after the shoot takes place and of course minus the 20% booking fee that the modeling agency takes.

Make sure you understand that models are paid as independent contractors, so they don’t withhold taxes form the paychecks.  Be sure to set aside enough to cover what you owe the IRS the following April.

6. Don’t spend money!
Baby modeling holds only one guarantee – failure.  Nobody gets book for every job.  Children don’t need modeling portfolios until they are age 13 or older and kids don’t even need professional headshots until they are at least 4 years old.  Part of the reason for this is that they change too quickly, so spending the money for professional photographs does not make sense.

Also, NEVER give a modeling agency money up front.  There is no legitimate reason for a modeling agency to ask you for money in order for them to sign your child.  If an agency asks you for money on the first visit, they are simply interested in YOUR money – not getting work for your kid.

The moral to the story

  • Don’t be the parent that is willing to do “whatever it takes” and spend “whatever it costs, because that will not make your child a successful model.
  • Don’t be the parent who tries to relive their youth through your child.
  • Don’t be the parent that points at the TV and asks their kid if they would like to do that.  What does your kid know about what the kid on the tv is really experiencing?
  • Do your research.
  • Be willing to let your child grow up and make their own decisions.

If you decide to move forward and have your child try modeling, be sure to read this article: Child Modeling – 3 things your kid needs to succeed.


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