Forget the Baby Book – 3 Easier Ways to Document Baby’s First Year

When you first got pregnant, you went out and bought one of those cute little baby books.  You know the ones I’m talking about – they are filled with empty pages, prompting you to record certain milestones throughout your pregnancy and baby’s first year.  “What was I craving?”  “Who visited you in the hospital?”  The pages go on and on.

You religiously fill out the pregnancy section – why not, you’re just sitting on the couch feeling miserable all day anyway.  You even go so far as to put the book in your hospital bag.  If you’re going to be in the hospital for several days, you might as well catch up.  Then the baby’s born and reality hits.

Somewhere in the first six weeks the baby is sleeping, so you open up your book and try to remember what milestones she hit and when.  Fortunately, all you have to remember is when she smiled and her first doctor’s appointment.  At five months you open the book again, quickly make up a date as to when the baby rolled over, and look at the pages ahead.  “When did she crawl…first tooth…first solids…got it.”  You put the book away vowing to do better.  You don’t.

Ok, I could go on and on, but we get it, right?  Those baby books are hard to keep up with!

For Bugaboo’s first year, I found three easy ways to document her progress and keep the memories alive.

A Baby Calendar

Every December I make it a habit to purchase or design a 12 month wall calendar.  I copy over onto the new calendar all the important birthdays and anniversaries from the old one.  Then we hang it on our fridge and fill it in with dentist appointments, vacations, wedding, and new birthdays.  Of course, Bugaboo’s birthday went onto this calendar as soon as we brought her home.

Then we realized something that simplified our lives – why not just put all of Bugaboo’s milestones onto the calendar?  Instead of flipping through a baby book and trying to keep it up to date, we just write down on the calendar when she hits her milestone.  This takes 2 seconds because the calendar is on the fridge anyway.

In addition, we are able to record way more milestones on our calendar than the baby book asks us to.  Every cute little thing Bugaboo does, every trend she goes through, I notate on the calendar.  For instance: July 5 – Loves hats.  At the end of the year, we will put the calendar in Bugaboo’s box (more on that later).  She will be able to look at it when she’s older.  Not only will she see her milestones, but she will see just what was going on in our lives her first year.

Calendar Tips

Obviously most babies aren’t born on January 1.  You will most likely end up with two calendars spanning both calendar years of your baby’s first year of life.  (For us, it was 2017 and 2018).

Even better, start using the calendar to record your pregnancy milestones!  For us, this would have included a tiny bit of 2016, but at a minimum we would have been making use of the full 2017 calendar when Bugaboo came around!  Record when you found out, all your doctor’s appointments, cravings, and aches and pains!  You can even write down when you started showing or how much you weigh (if that’s something you want to remember!).

Challenge yourself to come up with a little something to put on the calendar every day.  That will make it more fun for your child when she reviews it later in life.

A Baby Box

From the moment Bugaboo was born, we were given a lot of junk – excuse me “keepsakes” – related to her birth.  Because she was a C-Section, my husband had to scrub down to be in the OR with us.  The hospital put Bugaboo’s footprints on his scrubs and sent them home with us.  They also had the day’s newspaper in our room for us to keep.  Then there was the rose that the ladies at our church gave Bugaboo on her baptism.  There were thousands of congratulatory or baptismal cards, plus a card on each major holiday from Bugaboo’s godmother.

I had also saved all the decorations and games from the baby shower my sister had thrown.

Even though many of these items were paper, they started to add up.  So we threw them in a diaper box.  Yes, a diaper box.  My big memory making idea is a diaper box.

It’s not as bad as it sounds!  My sister and I both have giant boxes of treasures my parents have saved throughout our childhood.

To make a good baby box, start with something simple (like a diaper box) and just start collecting anything that seems important to your baby.  As your child grows, once a year or so, sort through and organize the box.  Start to toss out anything that doesn’t make sense to keep anymore.  For instance, I will probably toss out the little breathing tube the hospital gave me to practice with, or the free baby hat they gave us that Bugaboo never even wore.

As your baby grows into a young child, start to go through the box with her.  Let her choose which items to keep and toss out.  She will want to start deciding throughout the year which items she wants to go in her box.  You may even want to start a new box every few years.

Beautify Your Box

Don’t worry about how bad the diaper box looks!  The important part is to start saving these mementos.  Here are some tips to make the box pretty when you have time:

  • Find a sturdy packing box or repurpose a shipping box.
  • Decorate it with wrapping paper.
  • Purchase a plastic storage tote.
  • Get your child involved.  When she is old enough, have her help decorate a box to put all her keepsakes in.
  • Cut up some of the cards and pictures in the box and decoupage them to the outside.

You will end up with a lovely and easy to store box full of memories of baby’s first year!

A Notebook

I’m a lover of all things office and school supplies.  I have about 1,583 unused notebooks lying around my house because I can’t resist them.  Sometimes I allocate a notebook to a special purpose, like the one I have to keep track of blogging ideas and to-dos.  In general, though, I just have one notebook that I keep handy to jot down whatever I need to jot, and I keep it until I fill it up.

I started one of those notebooks when I found out I was pregnant with Bugaboo.  I didn’t think much of it at the time.  However, as the months went on, the notebook filled with all kinds of goodies.  I had all the questions I asked my OBGYN throughout my pregnancy as well as the results of my blood pressure and blood tests.  I started a list of the names my friends and family were naming their babies that year – hoping to see what Bugaboo’s peers would be named.  Of course, there was the list of gifts I got at my baby shower, and so on.

When Bugaboo was born, I was still using the same notebook – it lasted about 8 months into her life.  So it contained more doctor’s visits for her, to-do’s, baptism gifts, and so on.

The coolest thing about saving the notebook for Bugaboo is the stuff in it that’s not related to her.  There’s lists of books I want to read.  There are pages and pages where I would keep score while watching Jeopardy (yes, nerd alert!).  By saving this notebook, Bugaboo can catch a glimpse into what daily life was like in our house the year she was born!

Bonus: Tying It All Together

If you save a calendar, box, and notebook for your baby, you have a great record of her first year.  However, you also have tools that will help you compile a true baby book if you need to do so.  I prefer to make a yearbook each year at Shutterfly.  Once you’ve uploaded and arranged the 18,483 photos you took of your baby her first year, grab the calendar and notebook.  Use them to fill in interesting tidbits of what she did – when she took her first steps, what her first food was, how fitfully she slept (or failed to sleep).  Instead of going out and buying an expensive baby book that you won’t fill up, you will have a classy self-designed memory book to document these good old days.

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  • Danielle November 30, 2018 at 3:14 pm Reply

    I LOVE these tips!!! The calendar tip is absolute genius!! My baby is 5.5 months old and I haven’t written a single thing in his baby book. Whoops!! I’ll try your tips for the rest of it!

    • admin November 30, 2018 at 4:04 pm Reply

      Using the calendar really took the pressure off! It was fun to fill up!

  • Nadia December 5, 2018 at 5:14 pm Reply

    I love this idea so freaken much. I am pregnant with our second kid and i hope to keep track of things. I didnt do so well with my first unfortunately. I want to start a notebook for him now and catch up on the padt two years. But i have about the same amount of journal lol. And i keep buying more

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