Most new mamas dream big, and ranking high among the wistful visions (the oh-so-adorable nursery!), great expectations (blissful, uninterrupted sleep!) and good intentions (homemade baby food!) of new mothers is the creation of a gorgeous DIY baby book, brimming with photos and lovingly documented details of every milestone moment, from first smile to first tooth to first haircut and beyond.
But when the reality of the early days of parenting inevitably — and unremittingly — swoops in, bearing baby along with all-night feedings, messy blowouts and total exhaustion, you may find yourself wading through a week’s worth of laundry in search of that still pristine baby book, along with the coffee cup you were sure you just set down.
Thankfully, there are some simple and convenient options for busy parents to create lasting mementos of these sweet and all too fleeting times. From apps and photo books to a couple of basic go-to tools, we’ve rounded up some ideas for capturing and recording those “here today, gone forever” moments.
Created by the parents of five kids, Qeepsake solves the near impossible task of remembering to record milestones and sort photos with a text-message-based parenting journal. Text prompts nudge parents to jot down memories and developments as quickly as they can text “Buy bread on the way home.” Edit, import and sort posts from social media and order beautiful soft or hardcover books.
Another much loved online journal app, Tinybeans makes it simple to upload photos and videos, jot down notes and record memories. DIY-ers who love the look of a scrapbook will appreciate editing features such as stickers, frames, filters and other effects to customize their cuties. Share if you’re social, or privately connect with family and friends via the app. Want a tangible baby book? Tinybeans has an online print shop, which you can access to create photo books to share (or keep for yourself).
Parents who want to focus on sharing photos privately with friends and family can rest assured of that privacy with Lifecake. Touted as “the private place for families,” Lifecake places all photos and stories in chronological order, creating a virtual and shareable visual timeline of your baby’s life. Simply scroll back to any age to relive the precious moments. The service offers 10 GB of free storage and the option to create stunning high-definition photo books. (Big plus: Lifecake is owned by Canon, so you know you’re going to get high-quality pics and printing.)
Another private photo-sharing app, Moment Garden allows you to take, upload, edit and share moments as they occur using a timeline interface (which looks, fittingly, like an adorable garden). Parents also have the ability to harvest their garden into a beautifully printed Moment Book.
Good old email
If you’re okay with sharing photos on social media and would rather not download another app, step back into the early 2000s and call it good with email. Create an email account in your baby’s name and whenever you’re at your computer, send him or her a quick message. Maybe a note about how sweet they looked in their new romper (before the puréed prunes incident), or jot down a recap of their first playdate. When the craziness of those first years has mellowed, take some time to read through those remembered moments. You’ll be glad to have them all in one place, and who knows, maybe by then you’ll have the time to finally craft that perfect scrapbook.
Jot-down jar or blurb box
This is as no-frills as it gets: Grab a large Mason jar or empty shoebox, decorate it as you see fit (or not!) and find a home for it someplace where you’ll make eye contact with it daily. Every time you see it, take a minute to jot down something that happened that day on a piece of scrap paper. Fold it up and plop it into the jar or box. Giving ourselves permission to be imperfect is just the thing some of us need to start the process. Your scribbled notes may not be worthy of Pinterest, but by the end of the year, you’ll be ahead of where you would have been had you waited for the “perfect time” to start that baby book.