Keepsakes: Beyond the Photo
Here are some other ways to mark the passage of time of your baby.
Proclamations. In addition to the cards from relatives welcoming your baby to the world, you can keep one from the President of the United States. Just send a birth announcement to the President and Mrs.(Whoever), The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, D.C. 20500.
The world at large. You might also want to keep the front page of your local paper on the day your baby was born. It will be a source of fascination to her when she gets older to see what was happening in the world on the day she entered it.
The spoken word. When your baby says her first word — or even babbles regularly — try getting her voice on tape. Introduce each segment by stating the date, place, and activity, and then get her talking or laughing by making silly faces or pointing to pictures in a book.
Your computer can be better than a tape recorder (particularly since audio tapes can get lost in a drawer in a muddle of Sesame Street and Raffi tapes). Plug in a microphone (yours may have come with one built in), and use whatever recording software you have on hand. For example, you can access the sound control panel and change the computer's alert sound from a beep to your baby saying “Uh-oh.” (Make sure you copy these files whenever you upgrade computers.)
Book sense. Write in the front of your child's favorite books, the ones that you end up reading every night. Put down her name, age, and anything striking about the book (that she always pointed to the lamp in Good Night Moon and said “light” for example, or that “moon” was her third word).
Journals and diaries. Keep a journal, recording anything that comes to mind. Keep a pen and journal on your nightstand so it's easily accessible when something special has happened during the day. It's so easy to forget the details of life.
Growth Charts. Start the classic growth chart — the marks on a door frame — as soon as your baby is standing on her own. Pick a regular time of year to update it, such as your child's birthday, or New Year's, or another date you'll remember.
Steps in time. Make a footprint picture. Buy several extra large sheets of acid-free watercolor paper and a bottle of roll-on stamp pad ink. Fold a paper towel a few times and roll ink onto it. Press your baby's foot first on the inked towel and then firmly onto the paper, starting on one edge and rolling the foot to make the print. Repeat with the other foot.
Add a set of footprints every year or so, and by the time your child is in kindergarten you'll be ready to frame these tracks of his growth. If your baby has older siblings, stamp their footprints side by side. (You can try handprints, too, but most babies will clench their hands up; footprints are a lot easier.)
Keep a birthday journal and write your child a birthday letter in a blank book (available at a stationery store). Start with his birth story and include important family and news events that occurred in the months around his birth. Then update it yearly, with a letter describing his achievements over the year, relating a funny story, detailing major family changes, and reviewing the world news. Keep it a secret, and turn it over to him as a high school graduation present.
Another great memory maker is on one of your summer outings to the beach, bring along a box of dry plaster and a jug of tap water. When the tide is going out, pick a patch of damp sand, smooth it out, and stamp your baby's feet into it.
Mix the plaster in a sand pail according to instructions, and pour it into the footprints. (Be sure and wash out the sand pail immediately or the plaster becomes impossible to remove.) You can pick the “feet” up in about ten minutes; they will dry completely overnight. Tuck a loop of wire or string into each footprint just after you pour the plaster if you plan to hang them on the wall, or use them as is to make a path in your garden.