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Photos with Santa, not so jolly

Saturday - 12/10/2011, 10:25am  ET

Randi Martin, wtop.com

WASHINGTON -- It happens every season, parents put their baby on Santa's lap for that cherished holiday card and it goes terribly wrong.

Handing baby over to Santa may work for some kids, but others may take one look at Jolly Old St Nick and freak out.

"Plopping a young one on a strangers lap is suspect to begin with, but add the beard and the HO HO HO, and there's a recipe for disaster," says Carol Clayton, a local D.C. photographer. "Parents warn kids all year long about strangers and then hand them over to one. There are ways to make it more comfortable."

Photographers suggest you introduce them first by doing a dry run a few days before the actual picture. In doing so, parents can take their child to the mall ahead of time and point out the jolly guy, explaining what will happen when they come back to take the picture.

When doing this, be positive. Don't say, "Don't be afraid, Santa's not going to hurt you." Instead, talk about the fun it's going to be and smile. Snacks and toys help, and some photographers will put a piece of tape on your childs finger to distract them from Santa. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, don't forget the blanky, the binky and the bottle.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)