Creative tips on how to DIY your first baby album

Do it yourself Baby album with these ideas and templates

By Ashley N. Johnson
Creative tips on how to DIY your first baby album

Babies are amazing little beings.  They grow and change so much in their first year of life, sometimes parents find it hard to keep up with all of the special moments and milestones.  While modern parents certainly have advantages over previous generations of parents with technology at our disposal which makes it easier to snap quality pictures instantly, times are also busier.  About 50% of mothers work full-time outside of the home, and then take on the other full-time job of raising a family. Ask any modern mother, working, stay-at-home, or a healthy mix of both what she would love more of and she would likely tell you “time”. 

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With such limited time and energy, a parent might wonder how to preserve these special moments in their baby’s life.  I’m happy to report that given the technology I mentioned earlier, it has never been easier to create personalized, meaningful baby albums than now.  There are methods and style for just about every parent too. 

Types of Albums

There is an album design out there for every taste and style.  The resources and materials to achieve design goals are plentiful too.  

1. Scrapbook

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Scrapbooking is a more traditional, dare I say "old school", approach to preserving photographs and other memories.  If you are the kind of person who enjoys strolling through aisles of specially printed paper, and finding stickers and adornments for virtually any and all occasions, this might be the style you prefer. 

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Traditional scrapbooking involves cutting, gluing and sometimes measuring meticulously for perfect cuts and alignment. It is full of hard work but it is also fun and lets you unleash your creativity! However, you may realise the total cost of spending on a scrapbook could end up costing more than a photobook on promotion.

You can add in folders and pockets to a traditional scrapbook and include photos from scans and little keepsakes of your baby. Source: Google cc

If you enjoy the look of a scrapbook without the work, you’d be pleased to know that there are several digital templates available to help you accomplish this.  Many popular photo processing sites, such as Shutterfly, have design templates for photobooks that look handmade and all you have to do is upload photos into the site and arrange them as you wish.  You can even add little digital stamps, stickers, and text to personalize your book.

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2. Printed Photo Book

Another more traditional approach to preserving your baby’s memories is a printed photo book.  This would require you order physical prints of your baby and arrange them into pages or sleeves within a photo book.  This option is certainly cost saving because the cost of prints is pretty low, Another advantage to this format is that it can be revised easily if you change your mind about the contents.  
 

You can make a printed photo book one of two ways:

1. Print photos in sizes of your choice and put them into an album
2. Create a digital photo book using one of many different sites for a beautiful and modern collection of baby pictures. 

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Digital print photobooks have grown in popularity in recent years.  Many apps and companies that offer digital books, like Google Pics, will even pre-populate a book for you based on pictures you have taken.  Talk about taking the guesswork out of the process! This is a great option for people who don’t feel as inspired or creatively inclined to scrapbook or arrange photo prints.  

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But, using this format does not necessarily mean you aren’t creative. Perhaps, like me, you enjoy the uniformity of ordering a book with high quality images, and a nicely bound end product that you can continue to replicate as your family grows.  As a Google Photos book fanatic, I assume that by the time my children are grown, I will own an encyclopedic shelf of books: all chronological and gorgeously uniformed (unlike the complete mess my home is currently with two toddlers).

3. Digital

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With the rise of material minimalism, accompanied by the digital age, many parents are choosing to make digital baby albums instead of traditional print and coffee table books. Also called an eBook, a digital baby album is created and published digitally only.  This is definitely an environmentally friendly approach, as there is no paper or shipping involved in the process of making it. A digital book can also be shared easily and instantly with family, not to mention it can be displayed on your computer, tablet, or television and enjoyed as a slide show daily.  

4. Mixed Media

Mixed media simply means some sort of combination of all of the other album mediums previously mentioned. Perhaps your stylistic preference is for the photos to be in a digital book but you’d like to handwrite personal messages or information.  That would be mixed media. 

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Mixed media is truly the perfect compromise between traditional and modern.  There is virtually no limit to the creative combinations you could come up with as well.  Want to do a digital book with blank pages upon which you can glue an envelope with some sort of document or keepsake? Done!

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Reasons to DIY Your Baby Album

So why go to the trouble of making a baby album?  It could be just as meaningful for your child to access information and memories from his or her past by going through a box you’ve kept, or accessing your photo files on the computer.  Why, with such a limited amount of time, is this a worthwhile endeavor?

1. Personalization

It's nice to choose the photos and mementos you most want to remember from this time in your baby's life.  There is no one else in the world like your baby, and capturing his or her uniqueness from the very beginning will be quite rewarding as your lives together continue on. Though you may not realize it now in your sleep-deprived fog, the years go by fast. Your baby will appreciate your efforts when he or she is older. 

2. Organization

Making the decision to put together some form of a baby album can certainly help you stay organized.  If you are making a conscious effort to store keepsakes in one central location, or file photographs with the intention of putting them into an album, you are much less likely to be scrambling to find these things as the years go on. You could also ba labelling the album based on age, instead of going through a pile of images with your grown up kids asking you when is that - Mom brain! Also, if you're putting photographs and mementos into an album from the beginning, that will be one less thing sitting creating clutter in your home.  Children certainly make it difficult to keep a home tidy, so doing this is something small you can do to help the slimy/sticky situation. 

3. Cost

Like most other things, DIY is synonymous with some serious money savings (unless you don't want to start doing any momento at all).  While a baby album certainly isn't as pricey as say hiring a contractor to do work to your house, it can still get expensive having someone else do it all for you. The trade-off, however, is time.  It can be an investment of your time to take on a project like this, but the two aforementioned reasons to do it, combined with the potential cost savings make it far more beneficial to go the DIY route.

Tips to DIY Your Baby Album

1. Choose a design and stick with it

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Whether you're wanting to measure and cut every piece of colorful paper to adorn your precious baby's memories, or you're planning to digitize it all, decide what you're going to do and stick with it.  This will keep you organized, save you time, and also money because you won't be purchasing materials you don't need.  

2. Keep photos and materials organized

Once you've decided on the type of album you are going to create, make a plan to keep everything you want to include organized.  You can use photo boxes, clear plastic bins with lids, file folders, digital storage, etc. Be sure to label the contents of your storage container to save you time attempting to track down photographs or keepsakes when you go to work on the album. 

3. Devote Time to Work on the Album

With a design and medium decided on, and all of your mementos hopefully organized into one location. I strongly recommend carving out time to devote to the album.  You can do it as frequently or as infrequently as your personal circumstances allow.  But, in my experience setting a goal and allotting time in your calendar is the best way to ensure protected time and follow through.  

4. Be Inspired

To give your project direction, it is a good idea to get inspiration from the myriad sources available.  You can look online on sites like Pinterest, watch YouTube tutorials, look at existing templates on photo storage and printing websites, or even peruse the aisle of your nearest craft store to see the products and materials available for DIY baby albums. Seeing what other parents have done to preserve their babies' memories is a great way to decide the things you would like to do for yours. 

Ideas for the Book Cover

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1. Footprints and Hand prints

The cover of your baby book will set the tone for the contents inside.  Consider what you want the cover of your baby's album to say about all of the hard work you have put into raising this baby and document the memories in this way.  

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Is there anything sweeter than teeny tiny baby footprints?  After a baby is born, they give their first autograph to commemorate the special event in the form of inked footprints.  These prints make such a sweet addition to a baby photo album, especially front and center on the cover.

If you’d rather keep the footprints card intact, you can make your own footprints for the book cover at any time. All you need is non-toxic paint and a wet washcloth, or you can even purchase a no-mess stamping pad. Handprints are another cute option and widely popular among new parents.

clean-touch ink pad – Pearhead

2. Hospital ID Band

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Your baby’s ID band from the hospital is another great choice for the cover of the book.  It is a sweet reminder of a very important day for both you and your baby. 
 

You can certainly collage footprints, ID band, and any other mementos from the hospital or birthing center. Perhaps even using that sweet little beanie hat on the cover could be a personal twist and a great way to display something so precious.

3. Photos

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Photos of your baby make an excellent choice for a cover for your book.  You can collage them the way you like, either with prints or using a digital format.  

4. Names and Monograms

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Another classic cover idea is simply displaying your baby’s name. Adding birth stats, such as birthday, birth weight, length, time, etc. can be a great way to preview the personal contents within your book. Monograms are a classic way to get the same personalized effect and works especially well if your baby has a long name.

5. Pre-Made Book Covers

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There are many pre-made books available that have beautifully designed covers.  Some even have areas for personalization such as a clear window to insert a photo, or a kit to add your baby's name or other unique text. If you would like to focus on the content inside of the album, rather than worry about designing a book cover, this might be the option for you.

Top 9 Baby Album Apps for Templates and Layout References

1. Google Photo Books

Google Photos - All your photos organized and easy to find

One of the cool things you can do is create Google Photo Books directly from your cloud of photos.  Google Assistant will even pre-select photos for you and compile a book for you!  The automatic books are editable, so you can change out photos if you want to.  Once you're happy with the final arrangement, you can order a 12x12 book up to 100 pages that is simple and easily stored with other books of its size.  

2. Tiny Beans

Tinybeans | The Modern Family Album & Baby Journal App

Tiny Beans is a website where you can upload digital photos, share them with family and friends privately through an invite-only site, and purchase prints, photobooks, and other keepsakes.  There are numerous design templates for books, canvas prints, even gifts for grandparents such as photo Christmas ornaments. It is free to upload and store photos, the only thing that costs is the physical products you buy.  

3. Chatbooks

Easy Photo Books, Cards, Prints | Chatbooks

You may have seen advertisements for this site either on Facebook or while watching Media such as Hulu.  Their claim to fame is that you can create a personalized photo book in one minute. 

4. Artifact Uprising

Artifact Uprising | Custom Photo Books & Gifts

This is the most unique mixed-media book company out there.  You decide on what you want digitized versus tangible for a unique, custom book.  Many examples on the website have digital pictures with lines next to them for you to handwrite next to each picture.  

5. Moment Garden

Moment Garden

Similar to Tiny Beans, Moment Garden is a website that allows users to "Create a garden", meaning upload photos for storage, sharing, and printing into a coffee table book. The app version is available on both Apple and Android devices.   

6. Shutterfly

Photo Books, Holiday Cards, Photo Cards, Birth Announcements, Photo Printing | Shutterfly

This photo storage, sharing, and printing site has been around for some time and was one of the first of its kind.  There are loads of templates and ideas for baby albums on this site.  Another plus is that often they have specials, so you can create a book and save some money with the right promo code or coupon.

Another neat thing about this site is that you can use Shutterfly to store your pictures and send them to a Target store near you for prints.  That is nice if you need photos same-day, or simply don't want to wait for them to be shipped.

7. Storyo

Storyo

This site technically doesn't create baby books but instead videos from a collection of photos.  You can sync your Facebook account to this site and it will take from memories and thoughts posted there as well.  You can even have a professional polish your video into a perfect story. 

8. My Social Books

Get the Book of your Life that will last Forever.

Many parents use social media, such as Facebook and Instagram, to share their baby's photos and milestones with family and friends (and the world!).  There are some apps out there that take your social media posts and turn them into a physical book.  My Social Book is the most popular of these apps.   

9. Social Print Studio

Social Print Studio | Print your Instagram photos on Wood, Metal, and more!

Similar to My Social Book, Social Print Studio is a site that takes Instagram photos, mobile, and desktop photos and turns them into books and other keepsakes like magnets, etc. One very popular product is their "Lil stickers", which are sticker books of your social media photos.  

Conclusion

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There are many ways to preserve the precious memories of your baby in an album.  You can scrapbook, make a digital book, or a combination of both with mixed media.  There are numerous apps and websites dedicated to creating a perfect personalized memory book for you and your family.  Keep your photos and mementos organized from the beginning, and you can jump into creating a perfect album any time you have the time.  Have an idea of what you want from the beginning, and stick with a theme and method. Enjoy putting this precious book together! :)

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