Saving the Memories
By Corrie Pelc

New and Tried-and-True Ways to Cherish Your Baby’s First Year Forever
Chances are, your parents still have the baby memory book they used to mark the milestones of your first year. Maybe they even still have your first pair of tiny baby shoes, preserved in bronze for perpetual cherishing.

While these time-honored traditions of recording the memories of a baby’s first year are still popular, today’s parents also have new options to preserve their memories. While preprinted baby books are great for busy moms and dads, many new parents are creating their own albums from scratch, or even producing them on the Internet to share with friends and family, or even the whole world. And when it comes to freezing in time the size of your baby’s tiny feet, in addition to bronzing shoes parents can now make imprints on a ceramic item or even make a plaster mold at home.

Recording Milestones
More than 100 years ago C.R. Gibson invented the first baby memory book, which since then has become a tradition in many families. Parents fill out the book that assists and guides them in recording milestones, such as family history, the pregnancy, baby showers, the birth itself, and then usually three to five years or more of the baby’s life.

“It’s a way to record for prosperity the baby’s coming into the world,” notes Dennis O’Brien, C.R. Gibson’s current director of merchandising for infants and weddings.

In addition to the baby books, C.R. Gibson also offers calendars for a baby’s first year. “The calendars are actually a basic 12-month calendar accept that you can start it at any month,” O’Brien explains. “It has stickers in the back with all the month names so if your baby is born in July you would start the calendar in July.” The calendar also features stickers to fill in your baby’s milestones throughout the first year, as well as places to fill out information on monthly routines, a family tree and more.

For parents who want a first-year calendar that’s even more personalized, Creations by You offers a kit that allows you to design your own 11-by-17-inch wall calendar using included art and stickers and your own photos. You can have reproductions of your calendar made for family and friends, have it laminated or make it entirely online.

On the Internet, today’s parents can use Web sites such as and to create electronic versions of the memory book. Through SharedInk, for example, you can use the Baby Keepsake WebBook and its page templates to track all of your baby’s “firsts,” which you can then print and turn into an actual hardcover book. And at My Online Baby Book, you can build your own digital baby book through custom pages and upload pictures, sound bytes, movies and more for the enjoyment of friends and relatives who can log on to view it.

Making It Personal
While baby memory books are a great guide and framework to make sure you record all of your baby’s important milestones, many parents are now turning to scrapbooking to make their own personalized baby album from scratch.

“People really like being creative and putting together their own because every child is different, every parent is different and they’re putting their personality into a scrapbook when they make it,” says Carina Neumann, owner of the Scrapbook Depot in San Carlos, Calif.

Like many scrapbook supply stores, the Depot also offers classes on how to get started and how to create designs just for your baby. You can learn how to organize your baby photos on pages and explore different approaches to planning your baby album. If you can’t find a class to get you started, but still want to create a baby album of your own making, the consultants of Creative Memories might be able to give you a hand. The company has 90,000 consultants worldwide who teach others how to create keepsake albums either in their own home or in workshops with an emphasis on journaling.

“They’re almost like your personal album-making coach,” explains Heidi Everett, a Creative Memories spokesperson. “They teach you how to capture the stories and then they help you to sort and pick pictures and decorate the pages.”

Bronzing and Beyond

It seems that for as long as parents have been recording their baby’s milestones in some kind of book, they’ve also been having their baby’s shoes bronzed as a remembrance of how tiny they once were. However, baby shoes are not the only things that can be bronzed. Many bronzing companies can bronze pretty much anything you can think of: baby bottles, pacifiers, 3-D and flat hand castings, rattles and even food items such as cookies. And bronze isn’t the only option, you can preserve precious items in other metals, such as pewter, silver or gold.

And for a new spin on remembering how tiny your baby once was, paint-your-own-pottery studios also give parents a way to record these memories on something they can keep forever. For example, at Pottery Caffé in Boulder, the studio invites new parents and their babies 6 months and younger to capture the imprint of their baby’s footprints on a 4-by-4-inch tile for free.

“They paint the foot and then stamp the foot right on the tile. It’s like using the baby’s foot as a stamp,” explains Pottery Caffé manager Jacqueline Hardy. “Then we glaze and fire it so it comes out nice and shiny.” Parents can also put handprints and footprints on functional items such as mugs.

At other ceramic craft shops, parents can bring their baby in to make a lasting impression of their hands or feet in clay, which is left at the studio for a week to dry out and be fired in the kiln. Then, you can go back in to paint and decorate the impression, which is fired again.

Another way to remember your baby’s first year through a piece of art you can treasure forever is by taking a cast of your child’s hands or feet. The Delaware-based Southwestmart offers parents a choice of casting kits to create a keepsake statue at home. For example, the Single Baby’s Touch kit allows parents to take a cast of a baby’s hand or foot, while the Baby-N-Me kit creates a statue of either a mother or father holding their baby’s hand or of two siblings holding hands. Finished casts can also be attached to a wooden plaque or be bronzed or painted.

Corrie Pelc is a special sections editor for United Parenting Publications.

Web Sites – Use the site’s Baby Keepsake WebBook and its page templates to track all of your baby’s “firsts,” which you can then print and turn into an actual hardcover book. – Build your own digital baby book. Upload pictures, sound bytes, movies and more for the enjoyment of friends and relatives who can log on to view your creation.

Baby Scrapbooks: Ideas, Tips and Techniques for Baby Scrapbooks
, by the editors of Memory Makers Magazine, Satellite Press, 2000.

The Big Idea Book of Baby Memories, by Lisa Bearnson and Tracy White, Creating Keepsakes Books, 2000.

Handcrafted Journals, Albums, Scrapbooks and More, by Marie Browning, Sterling, 2000.

Lasting Memories: A Complete Guide to Creating a Family Scrapbook, by Anita L. Hickinbotham, McGraw Hill, 2001.

Making Memories with Fabric, Photos and Family Keepsakes, by Margaret Sinclair, Martingale & Co., 1998.

Making Scrapbooks: Complete Guide to Preserving Your Treasured Memories, by Vanessa-Ann and Gayle Humphreys, Sterling, 1998.

Memory Keepsakes: 43 Projects for Creating and Saving Cherished Memories, by Connie Sheerin, Janet Penseiro, Barbara Mauriello and Kathy Murillo, Thunder Bay, 2003.


C.R. Gibson
– 800-243-6004,  .

Creations by You – 303-762-7888, .

Creative Memories – 800-341-5275, .

Pottery CafféBoulder, 303-413-9300,

Scrapbook Depot San Carlos, STATE; 650-592-2767; .

Southwestmart 877-617-3564.