I had my second baby three weeks before the COVID lockdown in March. It was stressful, to say the least, but it also allowed me to let go of the guilt I felt about many of the things I “should” be doing as a parent. Near the top of that list was a traditional baby book — and not just any baby book, but the $80 highly designed baby album I ordered not long after my first son was born more than five years ago and never used.
Still, I want a physical archive of my sons’ early years, which is why I decided to make a mini book for each year of their lives. Here are the reasons I’ve decided to ditch the formal baby book and make annual custom mini photo books instead.
When my older son was about to turn two, I opened the fancy personalized baby photo album to see what kind of catch up I needed to do to get it started. I got completely overwhelmed, stuffed it back into the drawer, and haven’t touched it since. Every once in a while I would think of it, and each time it seemed even more daunting.
Unlike a giant scrapbook — filled with prompts for detailed notes, milestones, photo prints, and more — mini photo books are fun and easy to make. I can quickly upload photos from a handful of services I already use including Facebook, Instagram, Google, and Adobe Lightroom and I can use the Printique builder to add text to any or all of the pages (luckily, I was keeping track of milestones “for the baby book” in my phone’s Notes app). The builder also saves my unfinished projects, so I can add to them in real-time, or do a few years worth all at once.
Because so many parents take digital pictures and document everything online these days, it doesn’t feel as necessary to print pictures (and I’m surely not alone in my baby book neglect). But social media sites may not exist forever and phones and hard drives often crash. With 10 full spreads, the mini photo books are the perfect size and format for baby’s first photo album and preserving the highlights of a single year in the life of one child. You can even leave a few blank pages to tape in a first curl or other physical items into their first year photo album.
Even the best baby albums usually cover only the first few years of a child’s life and sometimes have a single page or a few lines for the preschool and elementary years. But mini photo books don’t have an end date and you can keep going as long as you want. In fact, it can become a fun tradition as your children get older — a personal yearbook of sorts. Your kids might want to help select the memories and milestones that get included, or you could present it as a gift on their birthday.
Speaking of gifts, because they’re so affordable these mini books are highly giftable. I plan to keep a copy of each of my sons’ books for myself, plus another for them to have when they’re older. For now, I’m also sending copies to grandparents, aunts, and uncles for the holidays each year. It’s a good idea to have a “beater copy,” too, since little kids love looking at pictures of themselves and the small size is easy for them to handle.