August 24, 2011

DIY Modern Baby Books

It's been a while since I've done a DIY post, but I finally got around to doing one on something I've wanted to share for quite sometime (not to mention I've had several requests to share this as well) - so here goes!

How many of you out there have a completed baby book from when you were a baby? If you're like me, your mother may have started one with wonderful intentions, and then just got too busy being your mom to finish it. Granted, my mom had twins, so she was double busy - but I always kind of wished she would've finished it. So, long before I had a baby of my own, I vowed that someday when I did, I would do a baby book - and finish it - for him or her to enjoy.

I am a little particular (that sounds better then "picky" or "snobby" doesn't it?) when it comes to the aesthetics of things - the design. Once I had my son three years ago, I started looking around to see what kind of baby books were out there - and I didn't like any of them. I wanted something that was simple, classic, and modern. I didn't want to have to write down everything the day it happened, or have to worry about keeping a strand of hair from the first haircut etc.

So, I decided to make my own book. For my son - I used a - they had a variety of simple layouts which you could tweak in terms of color and then the page spreads were pretty easy to figure out. I did his the 7x7 square size, and it turned out super cute. There were also page options with text. I wanted primarily images from his first year of life - and then a few words at the end of the book.

My son LOVES looking through his Baby Book. I think his favorite part is the picture of his "Birth Day" cake, which his Dad and I made while I was in labor with him.

Fast forward a couple of years, and now my second child, my daughter, is 18 months old. I figured it was high time I got her book done. This time, I actually designed the book pretty much "from scratch" myself and had it printed through one of my professional labs. I thought I would share the formula I used so anyone else out there who might like to give it a go might have some ideas of where to start.


First, I start the book out with my child's name and the meaning of the name. You may want to include something personal here if there is significant meaning behind the name you chose - or if it is a family name, etc. Our names were just names we loved - so I kept it pretty simple. I ended up doing Aspen's 8x8 because that was the size my lab offered - I feel a tad guilty that hers is slightly larger than her brother's book (my husband has reassured me that my son won't care because "he's a boy" but still...) I really like the square format because it aides you in keeping it pretty simple with the spreads.

Next, I chose 1-3 images for each spread. The spreads were pretty much by each month from birth. Mine included:

"brand new" spread - from first day or two of life
"newborn" spread - a couple of favorite shots from the first two weeks of life.
"monthly" spread - 1 month, 2 months, 3 months...up to 12 months - the first birthday.

After I selected the images, I rounded up a few of my favorite quotes and then at random, added them into a few of the spreads.

Here are a few of my favorite spreads from Aspen's book:
They may be a little hard to see, so here they are in jpg form. You will notice that I tried to be somewhat consistent in my design when it came to background and colors. For Aspen, I first looked for a "theme" among most of the photos I had selected to use - and the colors that jumped out at me were white, pink, robin's egg blue, and then a taupe. So, I stuck with those colors throughout the book.

Next, I did a spread of "Before you Were Born". For my first child, I did a side that was called "The Beginning" and included where and when we were married and what each of us was doing before we became parents. In the "Before you Were Born" spread, I talked a little bit about my feelings about welcoming this new family member, and shared a bit of how the pregnancy went, cravings I had, how I felt, etc. I included one scanned photo from the ultrasound and then a belly shot or two, for good measure.

And then, I recorded the actual labor and delivery story - the "Birth Day Story". This is where my family blog came in very handy. Or, if you keep a personal journal, that would be helpful as well. Basically, I made sure to write the experience down a day or two after it happened so the details, feelings, facts, and emotions were all fresh in my heart and head. Then, all I really had to do was to copy and paste it into a spread in the book. Aspen's story was 4 pages long!

Naturally, after "Before you Were Born", comes the spread "When you Were Born". I included here some photos from the hospital, as well as birth stats (weight, length, and time born - in Sawyer's I also included the hospital and city of birth).

Finally, I ended the book with a spread of "Milestones & Firsts". Now, mine aren't to-the-date specific, more like to-the-week - and I don't have all of the traditional milestones of firsts listed. I made sure to include some firsts like: smiles, rolling over, sitting up, first tooth, word, crawling & walking etc., but then I add in a few fun ones more specific to the child. For example, in my son's book, some of the firsts I included were: first visitors, concert, hike, and roadtrip. In my daughter's I included her first walk to the park, first shopping trip (I took her to Anthropologie when she was 6 days old - gotta start off on the right "foot" :), and first plane ride/family vacation. I also included, on the last page of the book, a photo of my baby girl and her big brother. The plan is, when we (someday) have another baby, I will continue that tradition and have a photo of the new baby with the two older siblings.

And that's basically it!

My husband teases me that the books are really more for me, than for the kids. I guess in a way, he's right. I love looking at them now, with or without the kids. I can only imagine that as the years go by I am only going to be more nostalgic when I think about my babies and how fast they grow. The nice thing is, I can order another copy of the books - so they can have one, and I can have one to keep and treasure.

I promise you will never regret taking the time to do a simple baby book. It will be a sweet reminder of your little ones and as you look through the pages of their first year, you will be amazed at how fast they learn, change, and grow right before your very eyes!

Don't feel intimidated if you are not a "professional" photographer or can't afford to have professional portraits taken of your baby. One reason I like the simple way I laid out the book is that everyone can find one or two pretty great images of their child to go in a spread. I made it a point to just take a few minutes each month that first year to try and get a photo to mark the passage of time.

I also know not everyone has access to a pro lab or the tools of the Creative Suite to design your book. Like I mentioned, the free bookmaking software available through several companies makes it easy to make and customize your own book. Some even have the option of different paper weight and lay-flat binding these days. Two companies I have worked with and recommend are and I don't think you will be disappointed with any of them.

And with that - I wish you all well in Baby Book Making! It's a fun process to go through the photos from the first year and reflect back on such precious memories and then look ahead to the little toddler you now have on your hands. What a blessing are our children!


Angi said...

What a beautiful way to document the first year. Thanks for sharing the details on how you made your book. It is beautiful!! I am inspired to give it a try from a Grandma's point of view.

{Amanda G} said...

These are so sweet! What a grand idea! I would love to know the details of how to create one on my own. I assume you used photoshop and then created each page individually. How did you add the pages that were all text? I am so ready to do one for myself, but seems maybe like more of a project than I can handle.

Tysha said...

@Amanda -

Yes, I used photoshop and did each page individually (I used WHCC and that is how they do books & albums - individual pages - it is kind of nerve-wracking because what if a mistake is made and it throws the whole book off a page? Yikes! For that reason, some of the other sites are nice b/c they have the spread right before you. You could also do it in InDesign - but I'm not as comfortable with InDesign as I am with Photoshop).

For the all text pages, I literally copied the text from original blog post and then pasted it into the photoshop file. Easy!

You can TOTALLY do it! I was hoping that the simplicity of the book would help people feel like it was manageable and not to feel overwhelmed - just pick out 1-2 pics for a spread and maybe add in a couple of special quotes and wa lah!

I guess I didn't mention it in the post - but all of the day-to-day photos I just group together and include in our annual photo album. I do one with each year - blogging actually helps me keep my photos organized and look back on dates etc. It can be really helpful!

Good luck, and you should totally give it a go! It does seem a little daunting, but once you get started, it's so much fun that it's almost addicting ;)

Tysha said...

@Angi -

I would love to see a special book done from a Grandma's point of view - what a special gift that would be ;)

{Amanda G} said...

Thank so much for your help! I am taking a break soon with photography, so I think it will be a good winter project! I might still ask a question! :)

MamaBear said...

This is BEAUTIFUL! I make books for a living so it always pains me that my kids don't have books from OUR family because I'm busy making them for other people (who pay me) :) You've inspired me to get my act together and make books for each of my kids.

Thank goodness for blogging and all the memories I've written down there!!!

(and to the commenter to mentioned a book from the grandparents point of view - I gifted the grandparents a photoshoot with their grandkids one year and then designed a book with special poems and sayings that were relevant. They LOVED it!)

Charly said...

The books are gorgeous! Thank you for the step-by-step, it will be very helpful when I start making mine.

Can you please tell me the name of the fancy font you used?

Meg and Peter Ord said...

I absolutely love this! I've been toying with the idea of doing an actual scrapbook or digital and now you've made up my mind. The most appealing thing to me is that you can always print more than one copy so that when she gets older I can keep a copy for myself.

I have one question, what font did you use for the quotes and the name on the front cover? I just love the way it looks. Thanks!

Meg and Peter Ord said...

I absolutely love this! I've been toying with the idea of doing an actual scrapbook or digital and now you've made up my mind. The most appealing thing to me is that you can always print more than one copy so that when she gets older I can keep a copy for myself.

I have one question, what font did you use for the quotes and the name on the front cover? I just love the way it looks. Thanks!

Tysha said...

The font is a free download from called "Scriptina Pro"