Stuck at home with baby? Think again!

Mention the subject of child modelling and images of pushy, star-struck mothers immediately come to mind. But for many mothers, taking their children to pose for catalogues or commercials is a good way to avoid the claustrophobia of being stuck at home all day. And the benefits can be more than simply financial.

Lesley Simpson, whose daughter Tiffany is a tiny model, speaks of her personal experience, “I had been ill and my friend was worried about the fact that Tiffany and I were not getting out enough. She suggested it really as a way for me to be getting out and about.” Although Lesley was very nervous about the whole thing at first, she found that going to different places and meeting new people had a beneficial effect on both her and Tiffany. Tiffany has enjoyed the work so much that she wants to become a professional dancer when she gets older.

From nappies and knitting patterns, to shampoo and shower gel, babies have never been more in demand for advertising. Top children’s photographer Daniel Pangbourne says, “So many people want to use children in shots now – it’s an enormous market.”

And with babies and tiny toddlers earning at least $100 per hour or $500 per day, parents are flocking to put their offspring forward for work. Many model agencies receive more than 50 enquiries a day by E-mail, post and telephone. But don’t let that put you off! The career of a baby model is very short-lived. Every six months, the successful ones get older and move up into a different age group of model, so the opportunities are always there for new faces.

Taking the decision to “put your child to work” might cause you some concern, after all if a child is too young too talk, can they let you know that they don’t want to do it? Photographer Daniel Pangbourne realises that when people think of the modelling industry they have images of pouting supermodels, but he is keen to point out, “The kids’ industry is a very different, soft industry. It’s good fun. It’s full of people who know how to deal with kids and babies.” He says, “The child doesn’t know what they’re doing, in essence. They just do what comes naturally. But they get treated very well, and have a good time. It’s a fun thing.”

Parents can easily tell if their babies would be suitable for modelling. First of all, they mustn’t be worried by strange, new environments, and must be happy to be handled by strangers. The kinds of children who enjoy modelling have bright, alert personalities, with a long attention span. They have a natural curiosity about new, exciting things, and are good at paying attention as well as enjoying attention. If a child likes attention and is easily encouraged to play games, then there is a good chance that they will have great fun getting out and about, going to auditions and photo shoots.

Some babies continue modelling through childhood, into their teens and beyond. Some go on to become adult models or actors. But for some, a modelling career is just a small part of their childhood, leaving them with memories, tapes, photographs and perhaps a substantial nest egg in the bank. Doing what come naturally as a tiny baby, might end up paying for their university or college education, or even provide them with a deposit on their first house. Not to mention providing a breath of fresh air for their stuck-at-home mothers!

Janice Hally is a professional television scriptwriter with extensive experience of children’s drama. She is the author of, Modelling and Acting for Kids, a practical handbook which tells you – in easy steps – how to find an agent; how to prepare for casting calls; what to expect on a photographic shoot, film location or television studio; how to make one job lead to another; and more.

Buy Modelling and Acting for Kids, RRP $48.95 but only $44.06 if you buy from the SheSaid Bookshop