Until they were one year old exactly, I took a photo of both my children, mostly in the same place and position, every single week. There are 56 photos for each in total, as there were a few special occasions thrown in for good measure.
There are many ways to record the milestones of that first, breathless year but I found this was a way that suited us and here is why:
1. Life with a newborn is a blur. Even more so when you have a toddler to consider too. A photo a week is easily doable and you don’t have to worry if you’re a few days out here or there.
2. It didn’t involve any props except our changing mat. Although I think the recent trend for ‘milestone cards’ is charming, I am personally far too disorganised to find the appropriate card as soon as they roll or sit up for the first time. Or keep track of the cards full-stop.*
*As a side note, cheap changing mats are a false economy, as demonstrated by the fact my son’s changes half way through. I learnt my lesson second time around.
3. They change so quickly. A week is just the right amount of time to notice those changes, especially at the beginning. Their little pudgy faces even out and gain more character as they grow and it’s great to look back and compare week to week, month to month, beginning to end.
4. You get through an inordinate amount of clothing and some of those outfits, worn a handful of times, or even just once, before they outgrow them, were pretty damn adorable. And expensive. This is a great way to record your favourite outfits, and a few interesting things like their first swimming trip and first pyjamas. Keepsake soft toys are a wonderful way to do this too but I seemed to never get round to organising them. Plus I think I would have too many clothes to choose just a few! Not only that but I am absolutely drowning in soft toys. Even if you separate the keepsake ones, I think there is a danger they will be put away and rarely looked at again.
5. It’s a lot of fun when you have your second child and can do the same. I look at both collages together and I am amazed by the similarities between my son and my daughter – similarities I don’t think I would have noticed otherwise. It’s amazing how their poses and even expressions are similar, even in the exact same place on the collage (and most of it was entirely accidental!)
6. They make great gifts, or a great ‘birthday month’ page for photobook style calendars, which are very popular these days. Both sets of grandparents got a framed print of ours and they were thrilled.
7. They are a slightly more interesting version of the ‘baby photo’ and, as such, are more of a talking point. I think this means they are more likely to be kept on display, when the usual baby photos may get replaced in time with more up-to-date images.
8. There are lots of little details in each photo that have significance for us. For example the footprint changing mat that features in both is the one at my mother’s house in France. I like the fact that it features in both and that those in-the-know will remember they were visiting their nanny and grandad when that particular shot was taken.
9. Lastly, I think they will be invaluable when it comes to embarrassing children in later life – at eighteenth birthday celebrations and wedding receptions.
Whichever way you choose to document your child’s milestones, for the first year and beyond – whether you take a photo every day, every week, with milestone cards or without, if you have keepsake sleepsuit bunnies or not, there is no doubt that recording it in some way is an eminently sensible idea. Every time I look back at my son’s collage I am amazed by all the new little details and the memories they generate, and he is only three. I look forward to doing this with my daughter’s, and looking back at both, for many years to come.