The first year with a baby is a roller coaster. Time can go by in a rapid blur when parents think about how fast a short parental leave can pass by, how quickly baby is growing, and how much they change every single day. On the other side of the coin, sleepless nights, bouts of colic, and endless diaper changes can make time feel like it’s slowed down to a snail’s pace.
Either way, there are so many moments parents are going to want to capture over the course of baby’s first year. Not only do these pictures make great holiday cards, gifts for grandparents, or mantle-worthy displays, they also record a moment in time for posterity. Sooner than a parent can probably imagine their baby is going to become a toddler, a little kid, a big kid, and eventually a teenager, and an adult (gulp).
One of the best pieces of advice in terms of treasuring moments that was given to me was from my mother, who urged me to put together baby books for my children before I finished my parental leave. Another solid tip is to store some of those photos on a cloud, online site or physically on a USB key at an offsite storage space.
This way if the photos are lost in a fire or through a computer crash they can be retrieved and printed all over again. This is where the first several years of my children’s lives are recorded and quite often, we’ll sit together and enjoy a trip down memory lane to our early days together. I’m glad I had the opportunity to get a variety of must-have pictures to help celebrate the early days of parenthood. Here are 15 moments in the first year that parents are going to want to record on film.
15 Photos From Inside And Outside The Womb
I went from being really sick in my pregnancy to being gigantically pregnant, in what felt like overnight. Because of this I didn’t get many photos of myself pregnant, and to this day this is something that I regret.
It doesn’t matter whether or not your picture is one that you’ll want to post on social media for the world to see, but it is something your kids will eventually ask about and that you’ll be happy to have in their baby book. I have a photo of myself, right before I leave for the hospital, being 38 weeks pregnant with twins, which was quite the accomplishment.
Although I am not in love with a picture where I look nearly as wide as I am tall, I love what it represents, and that it’s the last captured moment of pregnant me that I can share with my kids. Plus it looks really cute beside my ultrasound pictures.
14 Right After Baby’s Arrival
Whether its photos from inside the birth room at the hospital, a shot of you leaving the hospital with a little one in their car seat, or you in a birthing pool, holding your baby celebrating with your midwife, you’ll want this picture. Little moments like their first time home, and their first baths are fun pictures to keep your exhausted spirits up.
For parents who have some scary moments in the early days of parenthood, consider taking pictures, even if you never share them. While these aren’t “traditional” baby photos, they are a record of what baby and the family experienced in those early, often scary days, together.
Ben says of his photos from those days, “My wife and I really wrestled with whether we wanted any pictures of our son when he had to go into intensive care followed by surgery two days after he was born. It was an incredibly tough time for us and we were really just focusing all of our energy on doing whatever we needed to make him better."
"It was shortly before his surgery that I decided I wanted a picture. For me it was about capturing all of the emotions during that time, as well being able to show our son later how strong he was even at birth."
"We ended up with few pictures from our time in NICU and we tend to go back to them on the anniversary of his surgery, both as a reminder of what we all went through together, and more happily to marvel at how far he has come since then!"
13 Recreating A Photo From Childhood
The reason this style of photo is so popular is because it’s a lot of fun. Whether you’re really recreating a photo you took in the 1980's complete with the retro clothes or simply paying tribute to your baby wearing a sweater similar to what you wore when you were a baby, these photos linking family history are a ton of fun, and maybe one day your own kids will do the exact same thing.
If any of the grandparents still live in your childhood home, this can be a great backdrop for your photo series; it’s also a fun way to put some of your own childhood photos right beside your child’s. This way when someone says they look more like daddy, you can show them how they have mommy’s smile, aunt Becky’s hair, etc.
12 The Sibling Photo Shoot
In addition to some of the trepidation and jealousy that some children feel when their younger sibling arrives, there is also a lot of excitement and it’s best to capture it. Taking some sibling photos (both together and separately from the baby) will showcase sweetly adorable moments between your children.
Making a big deal about recording some shots exclusively of your older child might be the confidence boost the kids need, since it reinforces to insecure children that they remain a loved, important, and integral part of the family, even though a new baby is there. Bribing your older child (ren) with small “gifts” from the baby, like an adorable Big Brother or Big Sister T-Shirt can also be incorporated into your family photos.
11 First Halloween Or Dress Up
Although they can’t eat candy yet, this is one of the few years that you’ll actually get to decide what costume your child wears without them changing their mind and having a complete meltdown about their costume the day before the spooky event, so make it something you love.
Even if you live where the climate is cool in October, odds are your baby isn’t going to make it to more than two or three houses this Halloween, and the trip is more to show her off in her sweet Winnie the Pooh costume than it is to fill up on candy.
Some sweet pictures of baby in their costume, and maybe a picture or two of them enjoying their loot (if they’re big enough to have a little bit of chocolate) will make for something that can become a part of your seasonal décor, as well as a nice marker for their baby book.
10 A Picture Of Sleeping Beauty
My kids are five now, and they still look like little cherubs when they sleep – I should probably snap a few more pictures before they outgrow this baby-faced charm. Capturing a few moments of them sound asleep and unaware is a great preservation of some of the stiller moments of parenthood.
When baby falls asleep on one of the parents, have someone else grab their camera, since there is nothing quite like this photo op with a blissfully unaware child enjoying some cuddles or comfort in the arms of one of their favorite people (just make sure you keep the flash off to avoid waking up baby).
Some creative, and more adventurous parents than me, even set the stage for Pinterest perfect pictures of their child on an adventure while they sleep. I personally preferred the whole “sleep while they sleep” motto, but to each their own.
9 First Smiles Or Laughs
In the beginning baby is just getting used to life on “the outside”. This means that parents will need to pay their dues through a number of sleepless nights, diaper changes, and cluster feeding sessions before baby rewards their efforts with a real smile. When baby smiles it’s a happy sign that they are beginning to develop social skills.
Although some swear that their child has smiled at them earlier, anything that resembles a smile in the first month is likely gas, after that baby is genuinely showing you how much joy you bring them. Recording these sweet smiles, along with getting some recording of baby giggles and laughs can be something that you can treasure together for years to come.
What kid wouldn’t get a kick out of hearing a recording of them giggle along with mom or dad, particularly from a time that they’d be too young to otherwise remember?
8 Full On Family Portrait
How formal you make this can depend on your personal wants and budget. Some people will want to get a regular studio level portrait session with their baby, whereas others are happy to have a friend or family member point and click. Others will fall somewhere in between, doing one formal photo a year, followed by other, more casual, pictures.
Try to get these family photos with everyone together at least every three months or so, since baby will change so incredibly quickly at this age. These photos won’t just be to record the differences in your little bean, but they are also a nice memory of smiles through tired eyes, or that moment when new parents gain confidence in what they’re doing as they get used to their new and ever-changing roles.
7 Wearing A Cute Hat Or Onesie
Odds are as a new parent you’ll get a number of gifts from friends and family. You’ll probably also have a couple of pieces of baby attire that you had to have for your little one and picked up when you were nesting or just because it’s so darn cute! Taking pics of baby in a sassy onesie or their favorite hat is great in many ways.
Sending a picture to someone who gave baby a particular present when they’re actually wearing it, is a simple and sweet way to thank someone again, often months after the thank you cards have been sent out. It shows your loved ones that you appreciate their generosity. It also is another chance for you to send someone a shameless picture of how cute your kid is without guilt. Pics in sassy T’s will one day show your kid that mom had a great sense of humor.
6 Portraits With Pets
Your pet was your baby before the baby arrived. Take a few moments to record some of the ways your baby interacted with their first ever pet. I have a few pictures of my children with our cat, and I’m glad I have them. They were three and a half when he passed away, and my daughter, in particular, loves to check out the pictures of her as an infant with her “key cat” (also her first word).
Family pictures out at a park with you walking the dog and the baby, are a simple way to record some of the routines that you may be taking for granted right now. These snapshots of everyday life can help you pause on a number of things that might seem boring, but are really something you’ll grow to treasure.
5 Crawling And First Steps
Crawling is one of the first signs of independence that your baby will show you. Better grab the camera and take a picture or two of this tremendous feat, cause odds are baby is also really proud of their newfound ability. Babies will typically begin crawling at around six to 10 months of age, which will require a whole new level of baby proofing on your part.
Some film action shots are also a cute video file (to put into your baby book in an envelope with a USB). My son army crawled, whereas other kids will have the unusual crawl where they scoot on their bums to get around. Once they’re crawling, it’s usually a short time away from walking, so be sure to get these pics before most of your photos are of baby toddling around.
Even if they don’t take their first steps in year one, likely that’s something you’re going to want a copy for the records of as well!
4 Posing With Grandma And Gramps
There is something magical about the powers of generations together in a photo. Capturing that special bond between a grandparent and a grandchild and their special relationship on film is something that your own grandchildren will likely treasure one day. “What a bargain grandchildren are! I give them my loose change, and they give me a million dollars’ worth of pleasure.” Gene Perret.
By exploring our family trees and roots, we’re all better able to discover who we are and where we come from. Whether grandparents live further away, or see their grandchild every week – it’s always nice to get some pictures. My mom doesn’t like having her picture taken, so it isn’t as easy to get pictures of her with my kids, but one of my all-time favorite pictures (that is in both children’s baby books) is a candid shot of grandma sweetly feeding my twins when they were just over a year old.
3 With Cousins, Godparents, Legal Guardians And Family Friends
When kids are involved, particularly a lot of kids, it can get too chaotic to even consider trying to take photos, but we promise you it will be worth it. Whether it's pictures of your children with your BFF's kids, photos with God Parents and guardians, or even the cousins, the effort is well worth it. Cousins are often the first friends of our children.
A child’s cousin will provide them with hand me down clothes, teach them about the “real world” and enjoy some cause for celebration since most of the time you get together will stem around a family holiday. Remember, most of these photos are going to be a blur of children not looking at the camera or pulling silly faces when you want a quality pic, but this is a fantastic way to get a few shots of kids just being kids with their peers.
2 Teething And First Teeth
Teething kids are grumpy kids, and while they’re wailing you might as well snap some shots of their drool soaked bibs, rosy cheeks, and other telltale signs of teething. I could never get enough of the adorable “Campbell’s Soup Kids” look my babies would get in the days before a new tooth appeared.
Also, how cute will it be in a few years to be able to put pictures of your little one getting their first teeth right beside a picture of them when they lose their baby teeth? Little gummy baby smiles don’t last long, since children usually get their first teeth around six months, but some kids get them as early as three months, or as late as 14 months. Big grins with teeth poking out are a stamp that you must get for your first year photograph passport book!
1 The First Birthday Cake Smash
You baby’s first birthday isn’t simply just a celebration of your baby turning one, it’s also a way to commemorate you rocking the first year of parenthood like a champion. What better way to celebrate than to get a picture of your little one enjoying a first birthday tradition by eating (and likely smashing, crushing and wearing) an icing laden piece of cake (or small individual one).
Some parents like to take monthly photos of their baby’s first year and the one year shot is the perfect bookend. Others prefer to go all out and get a series of more formal photos to celebrate their one year old. Beyond the cake photo, some parents have fun recording baby holding onto a balloon, wearing a birthday hat and other festive birthday wear, holding up a fun list of stats about baby’s milestones on a chalk board, or just a literal snap shot into their everyday routine at one.
Sources: Life With My Littles, Preemie Babies 101,