One of my most cherished keepsakes is my baby book, a beautiful collection of handwritten notes, faded pictures, toddler drawings and locks of hair. I like to imagine my mother, 30 some years ago, sitting down to fill it out while I lay sleeping on her lap or on a blanket next to her… and in that imaginary moment I feel an overwhelming kinship with her. Mother to mother.
You see, my mom passed away unexpectedly when I was 23 years old. So by the time I started having children of my own, she was already long gone; not around for me to ask about those crazy pregnancy symptoms, not around to hold my hand during labor, and certainly not around to answer my frantic middle of the night phone calls during the newborn phase.
But she left me a baby book – actually, she left five since she did one for each child. And because of her meticulous attention to detail, these baby books became a sort of manual for me during those first months of motherhood. I could read along as she struggled with a fussy baby, see pictures of how she bathed newborns (kitchen sink all the way!), and commiserate with her musings of adoration for the new life she had brought earth side.
When I became pregnant with my first child, I picked out the perfect baby book. I went to the craft store and bought hundreds of dollars’ worth of scrapbook supplies. And then when my son was born, I did NOTHING. Despite having every intention and desire to recreate the impressive baby books my mother left us… I just had to face facts: I’m not that kind of mom.
I’m just too busy and apparently not that into baby books. The good news? I found a couple of ways to fit journaling and memory capturing into my busy lifestyle that don’t take up a ton of time and still result in something my children and I will treasure forever.
So for you mamas who, like me, are less of the “pinterest mom” and more of the “amazon prime mom,” here are my favorite alternatives to the classic baby book.
Digital Project Life (details)
This is hands-down my favorite baby book alternative. The app itself is free, and allows you to create and print gorgeous scrapbook pages right on your phone. They have dozens of different layout options, and hundreds of beautifully-designed journaling cards, photo overlays, and paper styles. I can whip out a scrapbook page in 5 minutes that, when printed, looks just like the real deal only without all the expensive supplies, messes and – most importantly – time. I knock out a page here or there anytime I have 5 extra minutes (breastfeeding, waiting at the doctor’s office, etc.).
Promptly Journals (details)
For a non-digital option, I simply ADORE my Promptly Journals. Admittedly, these take a little more time and effort than the digital scrapbooking, but it’s worth it. These journals are not only breathtaking in their simple design, but they have interesting prompts for each year of baby’s life… and go all the way to age 18! Can you imagine how fun it would have been if your parents had given you an 18-year journal on your graduation day?
This one is pretty new, and I haven’t yet had the chance to try it out but it looks SO FUN. There are different plans (free and paid), and the app sends you text messages regularly with question prompts (such as “What’s one thing your baby does that makes you laugh?”). You can respond via text with your answers, attach photos and videos, and even send in text messages on your own anytime you want to quickly document a memory. There are options to log in to the website and see your memories online, and you can even print a book with all your content. How fun, and talk about easy!
Here are a few other options to look into, ranging from simple photo book printing to clever journals. Many of these I haven’t tried first hand, but they seemed worth sharing: