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Baby Journals

The Lazy Mom’s Guide to Baby Books

By Amalah

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….

Bounce Back ArchivesWell, 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.

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • maya

    July 13, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    i actually never filled out my baby book for my son, but i have always been intrigued by this: because it allows you to choose what you capture, and doesn’t require you to write a novel for each milestone. While I know that I probably wouldn’t use a baby book again for my next child, I would probably get this.

  • jL

    July 13, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    I have also heard of using a calendar to mark your baby’s big moments. I think that they make special ones for babies that have stickers and stuff BUT I bet you could use any calendar you want and it would be okay.
    It can help you remember the big moments (first step, first laugh, first rollover) without having to make endless lists or feel too guilty.

  • silver

    July 13, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    This problem is exactly why I never even attempted to do a baby book. I knew that if I somehow managed to do one for my first born, that I would never be able to follow up on that for my children that follow. So, in fairness to the following children, I decided to not do it for any of them.

  • Lisa M

    July 14, 2010 at 10:28 am

    I’ve never done a baby book for either of my boys, but that’s not my point. My mom bought a fancy baby book for my 1st child, I never used it, blah blah blah. She remarked and said that was ok but sad…until I asked her where mine was, and she dropped the subject, never brought it up again. Ha!

    I’m convinced it’s all a big ruse. The only baby book I’ve ever seen even partially completed (in my family at least, YMMV) was my dad’s. And he was the 1st of 4, so I’m betting the other kids didn’t get one.

    One of these days I’m going to get around to sorting their baby pictures and use an online print service to put them in a hardbound book with captions. And that’s what they’ll have for keepsakes. If I ever give them up. 🙂

  • BMom

    July 14, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    I just drooled over a baby book this morning by the folks who write the “Urban Babies Wear Black” books… but it had all these pages in the middle that I wouldn’t ever fill up, since my daughter is 13 months old now and I just don’t remember the early stuff. It never occured to me that I can just rip pages out! Brilliant!

  • G.G.R

    July 14, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    Amy, did you save any of your pee-sticks? RANDOM AND TMI? Yes. But still, answer me =0D

  • tasterspoon

    July 14, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    What my mom used for me and my brother was those big photo albums with sticky pages and a clear oversheet. She just stuck in random things – birth announcement, party invitations, hair, burst balloons, whatever, as she went along. There was no text by her at all – really just the same content (and effort level) as a shoebox but keeps it all together. I LOVED going through mine and my brother’s when I was growing up – sometimes with my mom telling the stories again and again, sometimes on my own.

  • Carrie

    July 14, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    For my first child I had the baby calendar with stickers (from the Hallmark store) and a baby book. It goes up to 5 years old and I don’t think I’ve touched it since she was a year and a half old. For my 2nd, I got a book that only goes up to the first birthday. Then I don’t have to feel guilty about running out of steam after that. Right now I am writing milestones and cute moments on post its as I think of them and sticking them inside the cover of the book. When I get a chance I sit down and update a bunch of it at once and toss the stickies. Also, on some of the big blank pages such as Our Christmas Traditions or some such blahblah, I got those stick-on photo corners and put pictures in there. No writing, except maybe pictures captions.

  • Stacey

    July 15, 2010 at 9:47 am

    My mom picked up a baby calendar from…somewhere.  Kmart?  It’s made by Carters, is all I know.  There’s a page for each month, with the standard list (weight, likes/dislikes, new skills) and a bunch of stickers in the back for milestones.  No room for long anecdotes, and if you don’t fill in anything from months 3-7 (guilty) you can just approximate with where you put the stickers.

  • jaymee

    July 15, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    Do kids really give a hoot about their baby book? I think it’s one of those things that the Mom stresses about, but the kid could care less about. When I had my son I started obbsessing about finding a good baby book and I asked my Mom to keep her eyes out for a good one. She told me not to worry about it too much, she never made a baby book for me and I never asked to see it either. She was right. I had never thought about it before, but I’ve never seen my baby book(because it doesn’t exist) and I never wanted to see it either. I cuold personally care less about what I did as a baby. I of course still got a premade baby book from Target that is mainly just for pictures and locks of hair and whatnot. I also got a baby calender that has stickers in the back and places for pictures. It came from Target too. Most of the dates on the calendar are approximate since whenever my son does something new the first thought in my head is not “I better go put this in the baby book and claendar before I forget.” I figure after he turns a year I will print off some pictures and put them in it(I keep all my pictures arranged on my computer by month). I will probably never get around to it though and if for some reason he wants to see stuff from when he was a baby(which I doubt he will) he can just look at my Facebook(or whatever the popular thing is at that time).

  • Karen

    July 16, 2010 at 1:25 am

    Just in case the only reason the OP is worried about this is for the benefit of her #2’s self-esteem:
    My co-worker was obsessing over having a perfectly filled out book for #2 so I asked my younger sister if she ever felt badly that she didn’t have a book but I did – that whole younger sib just gets the shaft thing.
    She said not only did she not care about not having a baby book, but she really didn’t like it when everyone assumed that just because I liked something/had something that she would like it and need to have it too. I think sometimes we forgot that we don’t have to do everything exactly the same over and over…

  • Rachel

    July 17, 2010 at 12:22 am

    My mom just had a really simple book and calender-type thing for both me and my younger brother, and I’ve enjoyed looking through it and asking her questions about me as a baby and her experiences as a new mom. She even marked the first time I ever hugged a boy (I think I was about 10 months).

    When my mother-in-law passed away last September, two of my sister-in-laws and I went through boxes and boxes of pictures and we found my husband’s baby book. It was pretty simple too, and not all the way filled out, but I was really glad I had the chance to look through it. I never really knew his mom (she had Parkinson’s way before we even met and wasn’t really there mentally the entire time we were together) and so it was really special for me to be able to see a little bit of what she was thinking when he was born. He was her 4th baby and 1st boy, and I could tell in the book how excited they were to have a boy.

  • Bethany

    July 17, 2010 at 9:36 am

    My son is 14 months old and I haven’t written in his baby book since I was on maternity leave. I take A LOT of pictures, so I really like the suggestion of making something that includes some of those along with whatever text you feel like writing. I’ve made photo books at Shutterfly and will probably use them when I decide to create this masterpiece.

  • Courtney

    July 17, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    I got my baby book of off Etsy. The seller (ednamae) makes really beautiful, customizable stuff. And it’s not all the cheesy, cartoon-y stuff they had at Hallmark. It has pages for the birth story, a family tree, milestones, monthly updates, plus pages for pictures. But it’s a ring binder so you can take stuff out if you don’t want to do it. I love it. That said, my son is 10.5 months and I haven’t filled it out since month 7 . . . oops.

  • Caitlyn

    July 18, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    we set up a kidmondo account, and gave my parents and in-laws the ability to edit it, so everyone can contribute.  in theory.  the site is really well-designed and I like the format, and we were able to teach my computer-impaired mother-in-law to use it without much trouble.

    even so, we’re not doing very well at keeping it updated.  most of the interesting stuff is in a google doc titled “the little things” that my husband and i contribute to, a sentence or two at a time.