Pressed for time, many parents leave baby book work at the bottom of a long to-do list. And for families formed after a child’s birth and infant years (such as step, foster and adoptive families) a traditional baby book won’t work. It’s never too late, however, to create a special memoir that tells each child’s unique story.
How to Get Started
Think about the important life stages through which the child already has passed. Don’t worry if exact dates can’t be recalled. Dates aren’t as important as the unique details. Consider the interesting minutiae surrounding not only milestones but also everyday routines. For example, what was the baby’s bedtime schedule?
What will matter most years from now is the people that shared milestones and daily activities with the child. Let the memory book reveal those colourful details. For example, who taught her to ride a bike and where did they practice? Place a special focus on the areas of life valued most by the family. Examples might include faith, education, family events, etc. Adoptive families should consider adding elements of a life book to their child’s story.
Suggested Topics to Include in a Child’s Memory Book
Here are some possible topics.
- Slept through the night
- Wave, other gestures
- Art work
- Teeth (new and lost)
- Worship time
- Drink from a cup
- Solid foods
- Restaurant meal
- Time to roll over, crawl, sit up, stand and take steps
- Stay with a babysitter
- Birthday cake, party
- Movie at a theatre
- Dressed without help
- Tied own shoes
- Bike ride without training wheels
- Recited ABCs
- Printed own name
- Day of school
- Slumber party, overnight with friends
- Stories, books, nursery rhymes
- Movies, cartoons, TV shows
- Music, songs
- Web sites
- Toys, games
- Blankets, stuffed animals
- Foods, drinks
- Sports, hobbies
- Seasons, holidays
- School subjects
- Friends, relatives
- Family activities
- What made her cry, laugh and smile?
- What sights and sounds comforted her?
- How was the child’s name chosen?
- How did it feel to welcome her into the family?
- What are the parents’ hopes and dreams for the child?
- Who does she look like?
- What is her personality?
- What are her nicknames?
How to Organise the Memory Book
Narrative formats with paragraph headings titled by subject work well when describing events in detail. For one- or two-word answers, a colon between the subject and answer suffice. For example, favourite colour: pink. The memory book might also be divided into life stages such as baby years, toddlerhood, preschool, etc.
Publishing the Memoir
Several design alternatives exist. The least expensive option is a three-ring binder with clear sheet protectors. An already-bound portfolio with sheet sleeves is another affordable option. Web sites such as Pic-nic allow designers to create their own scrapbook pages. Another option: Visit a scrapbook store and choose the perfect binder, paper and embellishments, even recycled materials.
Dozens of scrapbook software options are available, ranging from free software such as Smile box to Adobe Photoshop CS4, which costs about £700 for the full version. Some computers already contain publishing software. Microsoft Publisher and Apple’s Pages provide easy layout options. And simpler word processing programs that allow insertion of photos and graphics also work.
Recording Special Memories
It’s never too late to create a meaningful account of a child’s life. The beauty of crafting a memory book from scratch is total control over what’s included and how much space is allotted per subject. Include a few or a lot of photos and decide exactly where to place them. No more baby books with empty pages and blank lines, your crafts can make income if you know “how to sell your crafts“.