In generations past, parents often recorded a baby’s milestones and memories in preprinted baby books. Some created keepsake albums or scrapbooks. These were passed along when the child grew up, as a record of his or her earliest days.
Now that we’re firmly in the digital era, how are people preserving memories for the babies they love? Consider these inspiring baby book ideas, collected from parents and grandparents around the United States. (Note: Some of these services may not be free.)
Create a Baby Photo Book
Amie White Carroll of Utah creates photo books to document her children’s lives from the time they are babies. “For the younger years, I was good at making one each year, complete with descriptions of everything and pictures. I made enough copies for each of the kids and one for us. For the teen years, I still capture the most important moments, like special trips or occasions. However, now they might cover a couple of years at a time instead of every year. Something I love about this is that it keeps copies of the books stored and I can reorder online. I feel comforted in knowing if they get lost or caught in a fire, the records aren't lost forever.”
A multitude of online photo book services make it easy to design a book, complete with your favorite photos and captions. Amie uses Blurb; other popular vendors include Shutterfly, Mixbook, and Snapfish. Photo storage services such as Google Photos and Photos for macOS also offer photo book printing. Compare various services to find the design and printing options that fit your needs.
Turn Social Media Posts into a Photo Book
Those who share a lot of images on social media platforms such as Instagram or Facebook can use services that convert those posts into printed albums. That’s how Janet Brooks of Florida keeps up with the flow of memories created by her young grandchildren.
“I went from zero to eight grandkids in less than seven years, so ease is essential,” she says. “Each grandchild has an Instagram hashtag and I link my account with the parents’ accounts. Every 60 pictures, we get a book. I do get to review each book before it’s published and can add or subtract photos. Here’s the latest pile before I sent them out. Each stack is a different grandchild. Some are older and have more pictures than others, and the youngest hasn’t gotten up to 60 photos yet.”
Janet uses Chatbooks; another option to consider is MySocialBook. Look for services that import not just the images but also related comments, captions, dates, and locations from your social media account.
Organize Digital Albums on Your Phone
Another great baby book idea is to organize digital photo albums of your children on your phone. Anytime your child has a milestone, birthday, or other special event, you can create an album on your phone of those photos. You can later take those photos and use them to create physical photo books in the future.
Jessica Stacey George of Ohio does something similar with short video clips. “I post videos on Instagram Stories and have it set to save the posts to my camera roll, which I frequently upload to our computer. I can caption the videos for grandparents to see now and at the same time collect hundreds of captioned videos for my kid to scroll through when he is older. I do photo books as well but have found I really love the way video captures the moment more fully.”
Use a Baby Journal App
Apps are now available to capture special moments of infancy and childhood. Olivia Lyman Jewell from Utah uses Qeepsake. “Qeepsake is meant to be your modern version of a baby book. It texts me questions, so I don’t have to remember to record the memories. It doesn’t require any extra effort on my part, and a rich library of memories and photos is being built. The best part is that if I forget to respond or if I find myself with some spare time another day, I can just open the app to answer old questions, add photos, or reminisce.”
Olivia also uses the app to record memories of her older children and even her husband (though not every question applies to him). “The questions create awesome opportunities for conversations with my kids,” she says. “I involve them in helping with answers.”
Search your app provider for baby journaling apps such as Qeepsake, Tinybeans, Peekaboo Moments, or Moment Garden. Features may vary, so look for the ones most important to you, such as journaling prompts, time lines, cost, and book printing options.
Collect Baby Memorabilia in a Memory Box
What about three-dimensional memories? “We do baby boxes,” says Alyssia Daley of Ohio. “It lets us keep the stuff that won’t fit into a book. I keep everything I think holds significant value, like the outfit and blanket I bring them home in.” The box shown here is for her oldest son, whom she placed for adoption.
“There is a video on the CD that has all the pictures from the day he was born and the day I placed him up for adoption,” Alyssia explains. “I’ve been putting [in] plane tickets for when we go visit him and there are a couple of toys from his dad.”
Get started with any sturdy container of an appropriate size. For long-term storage and preservation, consider using archival storage techniques and materials. These can help protect and prolong the life of fabrics, paper items, digital media, and other memorabilia.
Compile an Illustrated Childhood Journal
Travis Hubble of California has taken a lower-tech approach to preserving memories for his children. His wife, Rebecca Hopkins Hubble, explains, “My husband is good at taking notes of experiences that happen each week and adds them to our digital ‘Hubble family journal’ (recorded in Word, one file for each year). These experiences can be big events or little things or funny quips and everything in between. That's his source material for making a book when our kids turn seven or eight.
“He searches through the first six years of that child's life for any entries that mention them by name and compiles all those entries chronologically,” she continues. “He adds a few pictures for each year. Then he prints it out, prints pictures in color, and puts the page in clear sheet protectors in a thin, three-ring binder. It's pretty low tech, but our kids find them an absolute treasure and love reminiscing and laughing at their funny antics.”
However you compile and share memories of the children you love, make a plan for the long-term protection of your digital files. That way, those images and stories will be around when your children—and their children and their children’s children—grow up and want to enjoy them, too.
Start Recording Children’s Stories
Try one of the baby book ideas described above—or another method, such as using FamilySearch Memories—to record memories of the children you love. Doing so will be a blessing to you and to future generations.