As any parent knows, it can be nearly impossible to get a small child or baby to sit still for even a second. When each image took nearly a minute to produce, can you imagine the ordeal in getting your tot to remain motionless for a photograph? In the Victorian era, photography was a relatively new invention and every parent wanted a portrait of their darling little ones. The process was still primitive, and it took a very long time for the image to register on the film. Even adults had difficulty sitting still for that long, and often required a clamp to keep their heads still.
As for babies … well … it took a little more ingenuity. Mothers, using sheets, drapes, and other coverings, would hold the child while doing their best impersonation of a chair or a wall. This practice actually still occurs in portrait studios, though the camouflaged parent is usually far less noticeable than in these shots.