It’s nearly as cliché as every new parent’s plan to “sleep when the baby sleeps” — you buy the sweet baby book with all its spots for keepsakes, photos, and handwritten memories. You’re going to document baby’s first tooth, first haircut, first word, first everything. You tuck it away on a bookshelf for safe keeping, you have the baby, and you promptly forget the thing even exists (nor do you sleep when the baby sleeps).
A small percentage of parents do actually manage to keep up with a handwritten log of all those early moments and memories (only for the first kid, though) — but many more simply print out a handful of photos once or twice in that first year and intend to write down a little something at some point. If you suspect you may fall into the latter group, there are a few ways to use all the technology at your disposal to create something of a digital baby book.
The most surefire way to come out of your kid’s early childhood with some kind of book of memories is to take the responsibility for remembering to actually document those memories off of your exhausted shoulders. Basically, you need the bulk of the work to be done for you. That’s where apps like Chatbooks or Qeepsake can be useful.
Chatbooks will automatically print and send you photo books, starting at $10, from your images on Instagram, Facebook or your camera roll. (If you want to get a little more involved, you can select the images you want, add extra pages or create a photo book for special occasions.)
For more of a time commitment (but still an automated process), the Qeepsake app will text you regular questions to answer about your pregnancy or child. You can add in other photos or memories as they happen via the app (or by texting Qeepsake), and then order a book each year — or however often you’d like. There is a free “lite” plan and two other paid tiered monthly plans that offer more options.
If email is more your style, My Own Little Story is an online baby book site that will email you reminders about recording milestones or memories. It’s free to use for the first two years, and you can order a hard copy at any point.
Of course, there are lots of other options for ordering photo books online, including Shutterfly, Mpix, Printique, and Blurb. Most of those sites have pre-set layout options, so you can simply dump in your photos and let the site arrange them for you, but it still requires you to actually think to do it and follow through.
Get the extended family involved
You may not want to share every last memory, milestone, or innermost thought with everyone who follows you on social media. But you might want to share it all with your baby’s grandparents and aunts and uncles. In that case, you can create a family account in Tinybeans, a free app where you can upload individual photos (or full albums) and memories by date, complete with little notes. You can invite family and friends to follow you; they’ll get email updates whenever you post something new, and they can like and comment on what you’ve posted.
The true benefit here is that if you haven’t posted anything in a while, someone — one of the grandparents, most likely — is sure to ask why things have been so quiet, thus reminding you that you’ve neglected to add new memories. And if you want to eventually create a printed book from those memories, you can link your Tinybeans account to Chatbooks.
Or just send your baby emails
We’ve written about this idea before, and we stand by it now. The easiest way to document the moments you never want to forget is to pull out your phone and send them an email about it — before it’s lost in the abyss that your brain has become:
When they smile at you for the first time, email them to tell them what goofy thing you were doing to coax it out of them. When they take their first steps, email them about how they refused to even attempt it until they knew they could walk clear across the room without stumbling. Email them when they hold their arms up to you to ask you to pick them up while saying, “I hold you?” and the cuteness of it almost kills you on the spot.
Email them to tell them how brave they were on their first day of kindergarten. Send a picture of them with their fourth grade BFF and the video where you captured that amazing soccer goal, or their first choir solo. Send them an email each year on their birthday to tell them how they’re growing and changing and making you proud.
When they turn 18, give them the password, and they can relive bits of their childhood through your documented memories.