Nurture Article | The Portland Hospital Parenting Magazine
Spring/Summer Issue 2014 | Documenting Your Child's Progress
Your baby’s smile, their first steps or even their first time in the snow are special moments you will always cherish.
And now, thanks to smartphones and digital technology, it’s easier than ever for parents to capture these milestones and beyond.
But there is also a whole host of other novel and creative ways of documenting every stage of your child’s progress, from keepsake boxes to sculptures.
Fashion designer Stella McCartney, for example, commissioned casts of each of her four children’s feet as a personal reminder of their births.
She used Knightsbridge-based Wrightson & Platt, a company which also lists royals and Hollywood A-listers among their clients.
It can also turn 3D photos of your child into a bespoke sculpture, jewellery, gifts and decorative art so that you can turn your most precious moments into family heirlooms.
Many new mothers like to start scrapbooks as a memory ‘timeline’ from the day their child is born.
Keepsake boxes are another traditional way of storing everything from your baby’s hospital wristband to a lock of their hair. These can be added to over the years, for example, when they lose their first tooth.
Websites such as www.notonthehighstreet.com sell a range of scrapbooks as well as trinket boxes in silver, pewter or eco-friendly cardboard.
For creative mums and dads, the latest fashion is home-made mementos inspired by your child.
Jenny Hawkins, general manager of Country Love Crafts which sells to shops and online retailers, runs tutorials on handcrafting.
She recommends trying decoupage where you decorate a plain piece of furniture with photographs of your child or scanning a treasured picture then transferring this onto a cushion cover or quilt.
“Casting and clay imprints are still popular but there’s been a growth in traditional handmade items for baby keepsakes such as using photographs creatively,” she says.
There are more unusual ways of creating keepsakes too.
Amanda Cotton makes picture frames out of placenta which is boiled, dried and set in resin. It may sound outlandish but she has been inundated with requests.
“This is a permanent way of preserving the very thing that helped nourish your child and give it life,” says the London-based freelance designer.
“Many parents see it as something they want to keep and have kept it in the freezer. I’ve had so much interest.”
Tech-savvy parents will want to take advantage of all that video, film and digital has to offer.
Melanie Hall from the Baby Show recommends using photo sharing services such as Lifecake to store and catalogue your baby’s photographs or highlight their progress on your own blog.
She says: “When documenting baby’s first year, there’s been a trend towards parents embracing the digital age. From phone apps such as Lifecake to blogs staging their baby’s firsts like writelikenooneswatching.com, parents are becoming more tech savvy.”
Baby photo books are a stylish way of making memories for you and your children.
Just collate all your favourite images from your album then have them printed into a book. The Photobook Store (www.photobookstore.com) offers a range of designs and has an ideas gallery if you need inspiration.
Whether you are capturing your child’s first birthday or their footprints on a beach, video can be a more meaningful way of documenting your child’s achievements, according to photographer Jamie Smith.
“Still images memorialise, video captures reality,” says Jamie who is based in Notting Hill and specialises in baby and child photograph.
“Children in the future will find videos more interesting than still images. With video you feel it really happened, like a documentary of their own life.”
Another tip from Jamie is to ensure you curate your baby photographs regularly otherwise you’ll end up with thousands and the task will become overwhelming.
Also, make sure you back-up regularly any photographs taken on mobile phones or stored on your computer to ensure your treasured images aren’t lost forever.
Jamie recommends taking your time if you want to commission photographs of your child.
That’s because the most interesting images are to be captured from six months onwards when your baby is starting to explore, she says.
“People get this urgency to get newborn photos,” says Jamie. “But there’s a lot more you can do with a baby when it starts developing facial expressions.”
Future-proofing your memories is crucial. Technology is advancing so rapidly, there’s a danger the software you’ve used could become obsolete.
Ann Simpson from Snappy Snaps recommends keeping prints of your favourite photos because this is ‘still the best back-up’.
“We print a lot of old photos so do keep prints because these can always be copied,” she says.
By Sophie Goodchild