When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter I went out and bought a nice new journal to write letters to her – an endeavor that was successful for just a few weeks. It was a nice idea, but she wasn’t even born yet and I wasn’t keeping up with it well, so I set out to find a different option. I shopped around, and while I did find some truly lovely books, nothing quite suited me. I also looked into using one of the many smartphone apps available to record my daughter’s baby book in, but most required a subscription fee or again, just didn’t meet my preferences.
I wanted a way to record her life that was simple and quick, and let me use both photos and words.
Scrolling through Instagram one evening, there it was – the idea I’d been waiting for. A mom of two boys had posted an image of her freshly printed photobooks made by using Chatbooks – a photobook service that allows you to print photos and captions directly from social media sites or images on your phone/computer. This idea latched on in my mind. Once our bundle of joy had arrived, I created a private Instagram account for my daughter, something only my husband and I could see. I began posting photos to the account and captioning them – a process that took mere minutes out of my day and could even be done while I snuggled her during a nap. I posted the usual photos of “big” moments like her first time rolling over, taking her first steps, and her first Halloween dressed as an adorable cupcake. But I also posted photos from everyday life – her sweet sleepy expression as she sprawled across my bed one morning, her daddy swinging with her on the porch, photos of her with my grandparents at family gatherings, and anything else that I wanted to remember.
By the time she turned one, I had posted nearly 200 photos from her first year of life, and most all of them had a caption description as well.
Without even printing them out, I loved the Instagram account with all my favorite photos and memories in one place, in order, all neatly captioned. My iPhone camera roll was cluttered with hundreds of photos of her — many duplicates that needed to be deleted (I can’t be the only one), but here on the Instagram account there was none of that — just the cream-of-the-crop photos, properly arranged. By using Instagram, I didn’t have to figure out new complicated apps as I was already comfortable with their process. Countless times my husband and I would pull up the Instagram feed and look back at old photos and laugh and smile. I also posted videos to the account, for the sake of having them in order and easy to reference, though I knew they wouldn’t print out in her book later on.
Once I was ready to turn my Instagram feed into an actual baby book, printing from Chatbooks was so simple! It can be done from a computer or using their smartphone app. Once I had synced up my Instagram account through it and selected the cover and size book I wanted (which took about five minutes total), there were all my photos and captions. I was able to rearrange and edit anything needed, and then it was ready to print and become an actual baby book I could display in my house.
There are certainly other options for printing from an Instagram feed besides Chatbooks, but I had used Chatbooks in the past with ease and success, plus their marketing to busy moms is totally on point (seriously go watch this video, and you’re welcome). If you desire to follow a similar path: Chatbooks and Artifact Uprising use a very simple format on their pages of usually one photo or a four-photo collage on a white background, while Shutterfly is more customizable in regards to page designs (variable photos to pages, backgrounds and décor). Pricing will depend on the amount of photos you choose to add to your book, along with the size and cover (hard or soft) you select. All of these photobook services do usually have great coupons around the holidays, so if you aren’t in a hurry to get things printed this can be a great way to save money.
The best parts of doing her baby book this way? It was quick, easy, and I actually kept up with it! I also truly enjoyed the process.
Recording our little family life in this way for the whole year allowed me to reflect and treasure moments as they happened, and commit them to memory so I can look back on these beautifully mundane and amazing days. If you aren’t looking for a baby book per se, this same method could be used to create a “family yearbook” documenting all the ups and downs of life in your house.