Thursday, October 13, 2005

Documenting Baby's First Year

New parents are often overwhelmed with the changes and additional responsibilities that come along with their beautiful bundle of joy, so it can sometimes be difficult to do all the extra things that we promised we'd do. I recall my own pregnancy and being very excited about the impending arrival of my son. I subjected my mother to a constant barrage of questions about what I was like as a baby. I also asked her for some details, such as what time I was born, how long she was in labor, what my first word was, etc. Imagine my complete astonishment when she confessed that she had forgotten all those things! Sure, it was more than 30 years ago, but that's not exactly an eternity, is it? Her excuse was that "back in those days" there weren't as many journals, keepsakes, and other products aimed at documenting a baby's first year. Well, these days, those excuses won't fly. Here are a few ideas to help you record your newborn's first year to ensure that you can answer all of her questions when she grows up.

Photographs
Well, this isn't exactly an earth-shattering insight. Of course you're going to take pictures, right? That's fine; but in this age of digital photography, there is a greater tendency to take pictures and then just leave them on your memory card without actually printing them or otherwise organizing them. And because it's so easy to just keep snapping away with a digital camera, you can easily have a couple hundred images to deal with before you know what hit you. So it becomes even more important to sort, categorize, print, and store with regularity.

A great way to document baby's growth through photographs is to take a nice photo on her monthly birthday. In other words, if your baby was born on January 1, be sure to take photos on February 1, March 1, etc. I have seen frames sold in baby stores that have 12 spaces for these kinds of photographs. That would be wonderful souvenir to have when baby is older.

Physical mementos
In addition to photographs, it would be nice to come away with some physical mementos from baby's first year. The standard cliche item here is getting baby's first pair of shoes bronzed. I don't know many people who do that kind of thing these days, but you get the drift. Other physical items that you can keep include baby's hospital bracelet, a lock of hair, the receiving blanket, and a birth announcement. These items can be kept in a nice decorative box, such as a jewelry box with the trays removed and you can add to the box as baby grows and her achievements pile up.

You don't have to carry your camera around with you for 12 months or keep everything that comes in contact with your little one during her first year of life, but later on I'm sure you'll feel better having too many things than too few. So get started today!

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