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Need encouragement/inspiration - I'm finally thinking about making baby books


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I feel like an awful mother. I still haven't made baby books for my kids, and my oldest is 20!! I think my problem is that I get overwhelmed just thinking about how big of a job it's going to be, and I never get started. I have been thinking about it recently because DS is turning 18 soon, and his school asked for pictures for a slide show they are hoping to play at graduation, which got me looking at photos again. His book seemed less intimidating at first since, let's face it - the second child doesn't typically have as many pictures as the first! But when I started looking through them, there are still a LOT! And some of the best pictures are in print form, which means I'll need to scan them. Then there's deciding on how to do it. I have already decided on getting books printed through Shutterfly (or similar service), but I mean how to divide them up. I was thinking of one album for the baby book, which would ideally include some written memories in addition to photos, then other albums for ages 1-5 and 6-18, or something like that. Then (again, ideal world), putting all of the photos on a memory stick. 

So here is what I'm wondering, if you have done baby books/photo albums for your kids :

* how did you do it? 

* do you wish you did anything differently? 

* what did you do with the prints that you didn't use? (or if you scanned them and used digital versions) 

* how in the heck did you decide which pictures to use and which to leave out? 

In some ways, I'm really glad I didn't do it when the kids were babies. There's no way I could have left pictures out, unless they were blurry or something, which would mean I'd have 10 books of the first year for each child!! Plus, I would have made scrapbooks, with stickers and fancy papers, etc. I like the digitally made albums better. I just need help getting started. The funny thing is, DS probably won't care too much. DD (my oldest) would love it, but hers is a WAY bigger job, since most of her pictures are prints for the first couple of years, so there's a lot more to scan, and some are actually in slide format, including some that I would hate to leave out. So I'd have to figure out how to scan slides. 

At least for my younger two, the photos are all digital. And there are probably a lot fewer. Ugh. Help? 

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I have traditional baby books for each child with things like their birth announcements, hospital ID bracelets, little summaries of them at each age, a few pictures, etc. - more like memories throughout the years.  Oh, and their medical records like ht/wt, vaccinations, illnesses, etc.  And school awards, letters to Santa and the Tooth Fairy, some art work they did, funny drawings...  There's a family tree in the books along with a page for what was popular and in the news when they were born.

I also have a small photo book for each child that includes one picture for each week of their first year and then every six months after that until they turned 18.  

But I started all of these before they were born (ultrasound pics, thoughts while pregnant, possible names for boys/girls, etc.  I couldn't include all of that at age 18.  

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If that's what makes a mother bad, there are a lot of bad mothers in the world.

My absolute honest opinion is that baby books should all be put in the thrift shop bag as soon as the giver is out of the house. Baby books belong in thrift shops where nice, scrapbooking grannies can find them.

 

But if this is a thing you want to do, put in whatever you want to put in. You can't fit their whole life into a scrapbook, no matter how diligent you are. All you can make is a record of your experience of them, so make it the way you do/want to remember it all.

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I agree with @Rosie_0801.    I don't have baby books for my kids.  It was way too overwhelming to figure out what to put in them and what would mean something to the kids when they were older.   My mother gave me my baby book (and those elementary books that were popular way back when) and I promptly pulled the pictures out and tossed the rest.  It seemed junky and not anything I was interested in.   Knowing my kids now that they are adults (or almost adults) I can safely say they would also toss them if I had them.

You might want to ask your kids what they would enjoy having and then make them books around that.

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After reading the other replies I realized I didn't say that you're not an awful mother at all! ❤️  Having baby books doesn't make you a good mom in any way.  Three of my four kids actually love their baby books and looking at old photos, but they'd be fine without them.  

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Thanks so much for the feedback. I think this stems from the fact that my mom made a baby book for me, which I cherish, and my mother in law made one for my husband. But it's so funny that there is one book for the baby stage, and one book for everything else, because people didn't take nearly as many pictures as we do now!! I considered asking my son, but I had kind of wanted to keep this a surprise, as part of his graduation present or something. In reality, I realize that no one is going to want to see 100 pictures of the same baby, no matter how cute he/she was, but it's really hard to just discard photos. I'll probably just pick my favorites, put them into a digital book, put the prints in a box, and move on. I would love to hear what others have done, especially if they look back now and wish they did it differently. 

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I don’t do baby books, but I use Shutterfly to do a family photo book.  One photo book per year (or two of it was a busy year with a big vacation).  I do the 12x12 books and each book holds about 120 pages. 
 

My kids enjoy looking through them, reminiscing and laughing. I just start in January and do one month at a time. I go through the photos, and pick ones from each day/activity that I have photos of. It ends up being truly a snapshot of our year. So random shots of the kids at home reading or baking, sports activities, play dates, etc. So while I include most days/activities- I just choose a few photos to represent it, and not the 50 I may have taken- unless it was an awesome vacation. I copy all the keepers to a separate file and then upload them later.  I don’t delete anything.  That’s another project for another time. 

I include the dates, activity, place, names of people in the photo etc. as much detail as I can about who people are and what we were doing. I definitely include photos with relatives and friends, not just us.  Each ‘year’ takes me at least 2 weeks of solid working on it.  Which is why I’m behind 🙄 But the end result is a keeper that all can enjoy, even future generations. And extra copies can be made at any time if kids really want their own. We just have the one copy.

Its a slow process, a labor of love. Plus I really want my kids to ‘remember’ all we did 😂

 I wish I had thought to spend the pandemic shutdown to work on them!

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No one is a bad mom for not making baby books.  It is however something that I enjoy. :)

I have tried to make a scrapbook every year for each child.  I would get together with friends and spend the whole day together.  All of that kind of fell apart when dd10 was born.  I just didn't have time or energy anymore.  I *finally* got her first album done a few years ago and haven't made any more since then. 

It's on my to-do list (again) for this year to get a few books done.

As far as print photos: I have had some success taking digital pictures of the print photos.  You might have to experiment with your camera and zooming in to the photo just right, but it might be worth a try.  And it's much faster than scanning.

Our photos are all sorted on the computer chronologically.  Dh helps me with this part because there are several steps and I always forget how to make new folders...  Anyway, we make a folder of COPIES of all of the photos for the year that I'm working on.  You need to make sure that you still have the original photos in the original folder, because the new folder is going to be the work folder and many of the photos will get deleted.   

So, for instance I had all of the months from dd10's birth to her first birthday.  I went through that folder and immediately deleted the photos (make sure they are the copies!) that had nothing to do with her -- ds's baseball games, older dd's camp photos, etc.  Then I take another pass through the folder and delete anything blurry.  I take quite a few passes, deleting photos that people have their eyes closed, looking away, etc.  Sometimes I have to keep those photos because they are the only ones of a certain event, but by looking at the photos in the folder it makes it easy to decide.

Then I start weeding out the photos based on content.  I kind of decide based on how many pages I want to use to cover that event in the scrapbook.  So if it's an important event with a lot of relatives I will keep a lot more photos than I would of a Tuesday afternoon where she looked cute sticking her toes in her mouth.  Usually I put 3 or 4 photos on a page, so I would keep 3 toe pictures but I might keep 16 pictures of Easter or 20+ pictures of Christmas or whatever.

I've not done any digital scrapbooking yet, so I don't really have any advice on that, but getting the pictures down to a manageable amount is a good first step.

Good luck!

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I loved making paper scrapbooks when it was popular and I'd love to get back to doing them. At some point I just became too busy with homeschooling and kid activities to do them and I put it aside. I joke that it's going to be my homeschool retirement activity. It's a craft, but it also puts together family memories, so it always felt like a fun craft that ended with something useful. With so many photos being stored online now, I think many of them will be lost or family members won't know where to find them, so I'd like to have at least some physical photo books.

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48 minutes ago, mom2scouts said:

I loved making paper scrapbooks when it was popular and I'd love to get back to doing them. At some point I just became too busy with homeschooling and kid activities to do them and I put it aside. I joke that it's going to be my homeschool retirement activity. It's a craft, but it also puts together family memories, so it always felt like a fun craft that ended with something useful. With so many photos being stored online now, I think many of them will be lost or family members won't know where to find them, so I'd like to have at least some physical photo books.

Yep, that's what happened here.  When dd10 was born, my other kids were 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10.  So I was homeschooling four kids every day.  There was just no time to scrapbook.  Now that the older two are in college, I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I am still homeschooling four, but I don't have any littles underfoot.  Maybe I'll be close to caught up by the time the youngest goes to college.

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When I was expecting my oldest, a friend gave me a baby's first year calendar. She told me that someone had given her one and it was much easier than a book.  The calendar came with stickers for things such as baby's first visitor, first tooth, doctor's appointments and other events typical of baby's first year.    I bought a similar calendar for second ds.   While I can't claim to have been diligent about recording events, I did record some of the milestones. 

When my children were preschoolers or possibly early elementary-aged, I went through our digital baby photos and pulled together enough to make a baby's first year book for each of them.  I used the information from their first year calendars to make a timeline for the back of each book.   

I then started to pull together other photos thinking to make a childhood book for each. The project fizzled out.  Now that my oldest is in high school, I am trying again.   My current thought is a two page spread per year, from birth through high school graduation.  I worry that I don't have enough tween and teen photos for two pages per year.     I seem to have taken photos of only a handful of events in 2020 and one of those was in very poor lighting.  

Almost all of our photos are digital.  If we lose the digital files, we will have oldest Ds's baby photos, the baby photo albums I made, and an (almost) annual 8x10 of each child.  

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Right there with you, @Happy Camper! Mine are 14 and 18, so my oldest went off to college with no childhood photo albums. The weird thing is pre-kid it's something I may have enjoyed doing, but motherhood was so overwhelming for me that such things fell by the wayside. And like you, I have one kid who would really, really love a baby book, and one whose early photos are all prints and need to be scanned (or photographed, as suggested above). 

I also have boxes containing all the photos from both my parents' families, sitting in a closet. My mom was trying to go through them after we were all out of the house and then she got sick and wasn't able to do it anymore. 

It is cool that we get to edit with some perspective, now, and streamline things. I wish I had something to offer but I think your ideas on how to approach it sound great, and you're an inspiration to me! 

My challenge--not sure if this is yours too--is how to make it fun and done and not get too ambitious or perfectionistic about it, because that's partly why it overwhelmed me before. One technique I use to tackle overwhelming projects is to make a list of what I think are 30-minute tasks, and just bite off one thing at a time. If I go over 30 min, great, but lowering the bar makes it easier for me to get started.

 

 

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21 hours ago, Happy Camper said:

So here is what I'm wondering, if you have done baby books/photo albums for your kids :

* how did you do it? 

* do you wish you did anything differently? 

* what did you do with the prints that you didn't use? (or if you scanned them and used digital versions) 

* how in the heck did you decide which pictures to use and which to leave out? 

I tried really hard to make first year books for both kids but didn't go further than that. I committed to making three digital scrapbooking pages a month for each of them and then had them printed and bound at the end of the year. They each have a hard copy that I ordered online. DD's is landscape format and DS's is square. They are 48 and 44 pages respectively.

I started by making a list of what I wanted to capture about their first years and this is what I ended up with:

  • Each book starts with a two-page 'before there was you' spread where I explain where DH and I were in our thinking about our family and future. It's got pics of our home, the bedrooms we prepared, etc.
  • Each book has a two page spread about their arrival into the world, their birth story.
  • Each month after that, I chose 1-3 photos that I loved. I wrote a paragraph or more about their personalities and habits, anything funny or remarkable, how big they were. I am VERY picky about photos so I didn't have a problem narrowing them down. I do not like, take or keep blurry, cluttered shots unless they're the only ones I have of someone. I'm a minimalist at heart.
  • After those 12, two-page month spreads, I made a spread with their milestones/dates (held head up, solids, crawling, walking, talking, first words, teeth, etc.) 
  • I made spreads for first holidays - Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter for DD, Christmas and Easter for DS
  • I made a spread for first visitors and christenings
  • I made a spread with cards we received (I scanned them) and pictures of gift-givers.
  • At the end of each one, I made a spread where DH, I, and a birthparent shared our hopes and dreams for their futures.

That was it.

For software, I used "Page Plus" (Now Affinity), something I used professionally at the time.

For graphics, I had an extensive collection of paid and free scrapbook files and fonts.

The only thing I wish I had done differently was to do more pages as they got older. I fully intended to but I lost my mojo when my external hard drive crashed (stiction) and I lost EVERYTHING, and I mean EVERYTHING in my scrapbook collection. It was devastating. My kids are old enough that 90% of my photos are digital so there's still time. I have some discs of the 'outtakes' and many, many pics are are stored in the cloud. 

My DD has read through her baby book many times over the years. My DS has, as yet, not shown much interest but it's there when he's interested. Maybe only his future spouse will be interested. I know I enjoy looking at pics of DH when he was a kid. The books are slim enough that they are easy to hold onto as keepsakes. *shrug* I think it was time well spent.

There are services that allow you to send your old photos in for digital conversion. Memory box, or something, is one that I've seen. You might look into that.

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21 hours ago, Kassia said:

I have traditional baby books for each child with things like their birth announcements, hospital ID bracelets, little summaries of them at each age, a few pictures, etc. - more like memories throughout the years.  Oh, and their medical records like ht/wt, vaccinations, illnesses, etc.  And school awards, letters to Santa and the Tooth Fairy, some art work they did, funny drawings...  There's a family tree in the books along with a page for what was popular and in the news when they were born.

I also have a small photo book for each child that includes one picture for each week of their first year and then every six months after that until they turned 18.  

But I started all of these before they were born (ultrasound pics, thoughts while pregnant, possible names for boys/girls, etc.  I couldn't include all of that at age 18.  

I did the same with some of our hospital items. I scanned their bracelets, ultrasound photos, basinet cards, etc. and included them on their scrapbook pages. I don't think that those would have survived if I hadn't.

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21 hours ago, Happy Camper said:

* how did you do it? 

I did start a baby book for each and was diligent about filling in details especially words from grandparents and took them to my country of origin for relatives to write something because I wanted them to have a record of family.

21 hours ago, Happy Camper said:

* do you wish you did anything differently? 

Taken more photos with DH and me in it with them. I usually tend to take pictures of them by themselves especially when we travelled. I

21 hours ago, Happy Camper said:

* what did you do with the prints that you didn't use? (or if you scanned them and used digital versions) 

Digital hoarding. I could hand them terabytes of pictures once they are grown.

21 hours ago, Happy Camper said:

* how in the heck did you decide which pictures to use and which to leave out? 

 

I don't leave anything out, save them. Memory is cheap so we keep adding to it and storing them. They can sort it out.

I write a birthday letter to them each year. It may not be valued now, but I hope when they are older, it will. I tell family stories, my memories of them over the years, My mom and grandmother used to write them to me growing up and I sort of rolled my eyes at them when I was young and foolish. Now I know better and one of the few possessions I could carry when I moved here as a young adult.

 I also journal during important moments of life, I journaled during my pregnancy with them and I journal now so they have a record of this pandemic through my eyes. 

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My twins are 15.5 and I have ALL the Creative Memories "stuff" I want to use.  I actually prefer that to digital scrapbooks, but digital would get done a lot faster for me.

Anyway, I had a plan to do a 1st year baby book and then ages 1-5, 6-10, etc. (or something like that).  I am actually so glad now that I never got them started because I would have had EVERY picture in them.  They would have been huge.  But....know what pics I have now, I will be including my favorites.  I will also be doing them for each boy which highlights them, but has some pics with his twin too.  I also wrote on my yearly calendar all the important stuff that I would like to add in my writing on the pages.  I would have loved if my mom had done something like that for me, but she is gone now so that won't happen.  

I also had plans to do a family album that would stay with me.  We will see.  They are off to college in 2.5 years.  I also have ALL the family pics from my childhood at my house.  Not organized or anything.  My sister will never get it done so it will fall to me.  I'm going to try and put them in order, scan, etc. and make a digital album, or just a quick album slipping a pic in a sleeve type of thing and get it done.  I already have a stack of my DH's pics too that his mom gave me.  I would like to do something for him too.  Hope I live long enough -- LOL.  But...my boys' books will be done first.  

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1 hour ago, Acadie said:

Right there with you, @Happy Camper! Mine are 14 and 18, so my oldest went off to college with no childhood photo albums. The weird thing is pre-kid it's something I may have enjoyed doing, but motherhood was so overwhelming for me that such things fell by the wayside. And like you, I have one kid who would really, really love a baby book, and one whose early photos are all prints and need to be scanned (or photographed, as suggested above). 

I also have boxes containing all the photos from both my parents' families, sitting in a closet. My mom was trying to go through them after we were all out of the house and then she got sick and wasn't able to do it anymore. 

It is cool that we get to edit with some perspective, now, and streamline things. I wish I had something to offer but I think your ideas on how to approach it sound great, and you're an inspiration to me! 

My challenge--not sure if this is yours too--is how to make it fun and done and not get too ambitious or perfectionistic about it, because that's partly why it overwhelmed me before. One technique I use to tackle overwhelming projects is to make a list of what I think are 30-minute tasks, and just bite off one thing at a time. If I go over 30 min, great, but lowering the bar makes it easier for me to get started.

 

 

YES!! I struggle with the brand of perfectionism that means if I don't think I'm able to do it well, I won't start. I really like your idea of defining doable tasks, and that has worked for me with cleaning (alas, not always), so I'll give that a try. Oh, and I also have photos and slides from my MIL and DH's aunt. Those are a whole lot easier for me to purge because who wants to see scenery from trips taken with poor quality cameras from the 60s-80s??

21 minutes ago, Sneezyone said:

I tried really hard to make first year books for both kids but didn't go further than that. I committed to making three digital scrapbooking pages a month for each of them and then had them printed and bound at the end of the year. They each have a hard copy that I ordered online. DD's is landscape format and DS's is square. They are 48 and 44 pages respectively.

I started by making a list of what I wanted to capture about their first years and this is what I ended up with:

  • Each book starts with a two-page 'before there was you' spread where I explain where DH and I were in our thinking about our family and future. It's got pics of our home, the bedrooms we prepared, etc.
  • Each book has a two page spread about their arrival into the world, their birth story.
  • Each month after that, I chose 1-3 photos that I loved. I wrote a paragraph or more about their personalities and habits, anything funny or remarkable, how big they were. I am VERY picky about photos so I didn't have a problem narrowing them down. I do not like, take or keep blurry, cluttered shots unless they're the only ones I have of someone. I'm a minimalist at heart.
  • After those 12, two-page month spreads, I made a spread with their milestones/dates (held head up, solids, crawling, walking, talking, first words, teeth, etc.) 
  • I made spreads for first holidays - Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter for DD, Christmas and Easter for DS
  • I made a spread for first visitors and christenings
  • I made a spread with cards we received (I scanned them) and pictures of gift-givers.
  • At the end of each one, I made a spread where DH, I, and a birthparent shared our hopes and dreams for their futures.

That was it.

For software, I used "Page Plus" (Now Affinity), something I used professionally at the time.

For graphics, I had an extensive collection of paid and free scrapbook files and fonts.

The only thing I wish I had done differently was to do more pages as they got older. I fully intended to but I lost my mojo when my external hard drive crashed (stiction) and I lost EVERYTHING, and I mean EVERYTHING in my scrapbook collection. It was devastating. My kids are old enough that 90% of my photos are digital so there's still time. I have some discs of the 'outtakes' and many, many pics are are stored in the cloud. 

My DD has read through her baby book many times over the years. My DS has, as yet, not shown much interest but it's there when he's interested. Maybe only his future spouse will be interested. I know I enjoy looking at pics of DH when he was a kid. The books are slim enough that they are easy to hold onto as keepsakes. *shrug* I think it was time well spent.

There are services that allow you to send your old photos in for digital conversion. Memory box, or something, is one that I've seen. You might look into that.

Wow, your books sound amazing! Thanks so much for taking the time to detail what you did. Thankfully, I kept journals of memories and some milestones, so those should be useful. And I am considering using a service for the scanning. I have taken digital photos of some pictures (using an app that eliminates glare), but I think the quality would be better with scanning. 

Thanks also for mentioning how you lost data when your hard drive crashed. I'm so sorry that happened to you, but it's a good cautionary tale for all of us. Our (at least my) generation fears losing precious memorabilia in a house fire, but data loss is so much more common! We do have our digital photos backed up in several places. All the more reason to deal with those boxes of photos!! In fact, I just pulled out a box of my high school albums, and it had gotten wet somehow! Argh! Another project to add to my list. 

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23 hours ago, Happy Camper said:

YES!! I struggle with the brand of perfectionism that means if I don't think I'm able to do it well, I won't start. I really like your idea of defining doable tasks, and that has worked for me with cleaning (alas, not always), so I'll give that a try. Oh, and I also have photos and slides from my MIL and DH's aunt. Those are a whole lot easier for me to purge because who wants to see scenery from trips taken with poor quality cameras from the 60s-80s??

Wow, your books sound amazing! Thanks so much for taking the time to detail what you did. Thankfully, I kept journals of memories and some milestones, so those should be useful. And I am considering using a service for the scanning. I have taken digital photos of some pictures (using an app that eliminates glare), but I think the quality would be better with scanning. 

Thanks also for mentioning how you lost data when your hard drive crashed. I'm so sorry that happened to you, but it's a good cautionary tale for all of us. Our (at least my) generation fears losing precious memorabilia in a house fire, but data loss is so much more common! We do have our digital photos backed up in several places. All the more reason to deal with those boxes of photos!! In fact, I just pulled out a box of my high school albums, and it had gotten wet somehow! Argh! Another project to add to my list. 

Graphic design (doing it and outsourcing) was one of my professional responsibilities so it was kind of a natural outgrowth. I suppose I'm fortunate that I sent my mom so many photos on CDs because all was not lost but losing so many of my digiscrapping supplies was really defeating. Replacing all of it would have been quite costly too.

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