How do I keep memories of my baby’s first year?
I am expecting my first baby in a few weeks. I know the days will be busy but want some ideas of how to keep the memories of the first year in an interesting way, which we can look back on and maybe pass onto our child.
The first few weeks and months certainly pass quickly with a new baby. There are plenty of baby record books on the market and you may consider keeping one but to make your memories more personal plan to keep a memory box.
Start now before your baby is born. Buy a box file which you can cover or decorate if you are creative, or a special memory box from companies specialising in such things and begin to store. Photos of your bump, if you dare; scans and lists of possible names all have their place here.
Before your baby is born you may like to begin a journal for him. Buy a plain hardbound notebook and begin to write the story of your pregnancy, your hopes for your unborn baby and maybe some of your worries and concerns. This journal can be added to throughout the childhood years, marking major milestones and the small details which often get forgotten.
Before the big day arrives, arrange with a close relative or friend to keep a copy of a newspaper for the birth day. This is fascinating to look back on. Once your baby has arrived, there will be plenty of things to keep. You may have to be selective or think of ways to store the items so the box really tells its story.
Hospital tags and cot cards have their place, but also consider keeping a list of presents and flowers received as well as storing all the cards. If you celebrated the new arrival with champagne, keep the cork. Press a flower from a bouquet sent by proud grandparents or your partner.
Consider cutting pieces from the wrapping paper received with gifts to make into a collage or use to decorate your box. In the early weeks there will be little time for such pursuits but make a start by storing all the items and sort them out in a few months time.
A way to record his growth is to draw around his hand in the first weeks. Use a piece of plain paper and coloured crayon. It is easiest to lay the baby on his stomach on the floor and slip the paper under his hand. Draw the outline. In six or eight weeks place the same piece of paper under his hand in the same way and draw the new bigger outline. Continue every two to three months throughout his first year and remember to date each new outline. This can be stored or framed as it makes a delightful picture.
Keep some mementos of the early days- a newborn nappy is tiny compared to the size he will be wearing at 18mths. A first-size sleep suit and pair of socks can be added if you have the room.
Keep a small notebook in your box and record his weight along with a monthly record of his length. Add dates of “firsts” such as the first walk with the pram, the visit of grandparents, the first bath at home. If you keep a feeding record in the early days add that and also one of weaning. These can be useful to look back on, especially with subsequent babies.
As well as your memory box there are other ways to record the first year. A video camera can be kept ready charged to record some of the “firsts”. A bath with Dad, getting dressed up for a walk in the park, sitting in the high chair for the first time. Try to film short clips of ordinary days as well, especially once your baby begins to babble and vocalise. Label the tapes with dates and store in your box if there is room.
Most new parents take a lot of photos. In this digital age it is easy to store information on a computer or on disc. Consider printing some of the early photos; the first one in hospital, coming home and the first time in his crib. A nice idea is to take a photo each month, on your baby’s birth date. In a year you will have a record of his growth and development. Special frames can be bought to display these.
No doubt you will make an album of photos; remember to date them as it is surprisingly easy to forget.
By your child’s first birthday you will have built up a unique record of his first year. Continue to record those small details in a journal or notebook as the less memorable milestones often get forgotten. Whether you keep the box for yourself or give it to your child when he is older is up to you. Either way, memories will be stored for you both.