The Lazy Mom’s Guide to Baby Books
Hi, Amy! I need your help. I’m having my second baby in October, and I need to find a book for “baby’s first years”. For the first, my mom asked if she could buy me one and I said, “Sure, as long as I’m not required to write page after page of stories to fill in big blank areas.” She bought a fairly traditional one that’s now mostly blank. The thing is, I don’t enjoy writing all that much, though I am a list person. All the pages that have you fill out “9 months old – baby’s favorite foods” or “22 months old – here is my bedtime routine” are filled out. Skills, sure. Doctor’s records (height, weight, shots) – complete. Heartwarming stories and anecdotes about my first kid’s childhood? Not so much. Especially since that one goes up to 5 years, and after 24 months I haven’t written a thing for my now-3-year-old.
So I’m looking to buy one for myself this time that won’t make me feel like I fail at paying attention and cherishing my child. I’d skip it completely, but it seems unfair for big brother to have one and not the new kid. It’s entirely possible that what I’m looking for doesn’t exist – in that case I’ll get a traditional one that again ends up mostly blank. I know from experience that trying to create one myself will end with me realizing the baby is 6 months old and oops! I haven’t written down a single thing and now I can’t remember anything except what happened 5 minutes ago….
Well, your listicle-happy baby book is STILL better than my efforts, which include details about my boys’ birth times and weights, two locks of hair and a collection of hospital bracelets. Every page after that is blank. My blog is my baby book, and I stopped feeling guilty about that a long, long time ago. I have two photo shoebox things full of photos and documents and baby’s first haircut envelopes and Mall Santa photos on CD, but when it comes time for the boys to ask for stories and anecdotes and monthly updates on their words and skills and favorite foods, I’ll be off at one of those “print-and-bind-your-blog” websites. (Same goes for my pregnancy journal.)
But! Guess what! I am writing today’s column at Barnes & Noble, so JUST FOR YOU, I wandered over to the “pregnancy and family care” aisle and perused today’s readily-available baby book options. And so I have a couple suggestions.
Most baby books are very list-heavy, but then you will inevitably hit a patch of pages that are writing-intensive, letters from Mommy, a special holiday memory, and other sort-of forced stuff that you just might not ever get around to. WHICH IS FINE. The problem is that these blank pages LOOK bad, like you didn’t care or didn’t get around to it, and in a fancy bound book, there’s no way to avoid them. SO.
Check out My Baby Book, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. (Author of The Belly Book, which is a very nice pregnancy journal/organizer that I’ve given as a gift before.) The absolute BEST part of this book? REMOVABLE PAGES. The outside looks like any hardcover book, but the pages are actually just spiral-bound inside. Don’t feel like filling some of them in? Didn’t get any height or weight measurement for one specific month? RIP THEM OUT. No one will ever know. The book also gets my vote because 1) it’s cute and mod-ish looking, 2) very light on the schmoopsy letters-to-baby features — it’s almost exclusively lists, and 3) ONLY goes to through the first year. (You can order expansion pages for birthdays and such later.)
My other suggestion would be to buy your MOTHER a book. Rosenthal has a Grandparent Book (it’s not here at the store but available online), and I saw several other grandmother journals — if your mom is into more traditional baby books and enjoys writing, check out Grandmother Remembers a Written Heirloom for My Grandchild. You stay on top of the lists and the doctor’s notes and photos; your mom can be in charge of documenting that time your child ate whipped cream for the first time at Thanksgiving or snuck downstairs and opened everybody’s Christmas presents.
And lastly, if putting pen to paper is not a habit you’re into anymore, or if you NEVER remember to print out actual paper photos these days (GUILTY), considering using an online baby book service. I wish I could recommend one specifically (commenters??! any users of Kidmondo or BabyChapters?), but just a little Googling of “online baby books” turned up a good dozen options that allow you to import your Flickr or Facebook photos and pick and choose what sort of journal/info pages you want to fill out…and then print the finished product as a beautiful hardcover book. Or just share it as a private website for friends and family. (And most of them, as far as I can tell, are available to give as a gift to the new mom, for anyone looking for shower ideas for super-Internet-savvy-using moms.)
And when in doubt: A nice-looking photo box full of mementos and photos and notes scribbled on Post-Its might seem like a disorganized cop-out, but your child might one day enjoy rooting through its contents like a real-life time capsule — even more than reading any cutesy baby-themed bunny-filled album.
If you’re considering an online baby registry, we recommend Amazon’s Baby Registry, which offers free 90-day returns on baby store purchases. You can even add items from other websites onto to your baby registry.