When my daughter was born, I really wanted a keepsake book to write down everything about her first years. I ended up going on overload actually, buying three books! This one has always been my favourite of the three though and the only one that I've kept up to date regularly. It's exclusive to Mothercare (it says here ELC but it's in the Mothercare part of the store) and cost £14.99 last Summer. It is a spiral bound hardback book in a lovely yellow and cream colour so is ideal for girls and boys equally. There is a teddy on the front of the book and he appears throughout. It looks and feels of very high quality.
The book is made up of several sections that break down each part of baby's first years. I thought it best to give a breakdown of these sections and my thoughts:
The first section isn't labelled as such, but includes a small number of pages for basic information to be entered. The very first page is reserved for baby's name and a photo - note that throughout the book there's no sticky tabs or similar to help attach photos so I ended up buying some corner photo adhesives separately. There are then some pages for basic information, for example a couple of pages about Mummy and Daddy and a family tree page. These are very structured so it's not been ideal for us to enter our information as we don't have the regular family structure it portrays (my mum and dad have both remarried). It would be better if these pages had either more space or were left blank for users to enter their own family tree.
I've completed the majority of the pages in the introduction part, apart from the 'letter' page. This is an area reserved to write baby a letter before they are born. I've considered writing something but I feel that we've written what we wanted to say throughout the book already and this part I thought seemed a little cheesy!
2. Waiting for you
The sections from here onwards are tabbed with strong card. The cards also have a pocket at the back so you can slot in keepsakes into the relevant sections. I've not really made much of these, although I have slotted in a few extra photos along the way. I've also mounted some extra photos onto the card inserts because although I find there are places to stick photos in, the spaces are almost all designed for landscape style photos and not portrait ones.
I've completed a lot of this section, but there are some parts that I found didn't apply to us. For example at one point it asks which classes we attended while I was pregnant - we didn't attend any and so I've left this blank but this part takes up half of a page and therefore there's a big gap. My favourite part of this area is how we reacted when we found out I was pregnant - brings back some lovely memories reading back through it!
3. Welcome to the World
This is my favourite section. It includes several areas to write about the day baby was born and what happened. It's also let me write about some of the stories we have from the time at the hospital. Some parts require some thought - for example at one point it asks 'Mummy knew you were ready to be born when.....' I found this quite difficult to write as I was induced and she had no choice but to enter the world! That's another minor issue. Some of the statements that require input are generalised - I assume that everyone will find parts that are more difficult to complete than others as they've tried to cater for everyone. Obviously every birth and first few months are different.
My favourite part here is the area to place baby's first ever photo, weight and measurements when they first came into the world. There's also a section to include pictures of Mummy and Daddy from when they were a baby and a section to write how much things cost at the time of birth (I had to do a bit of research for some of these eg how much a postage stamp costs, how much a cinema ticket is!). This was fun to complete - although I would advise completing it while the information is fresh in your mind because even when I completed it soon after, I found myself having to think back.
4. Early Days
This section covers bringing baby home, the messages and cards that arrived and the gifts that people bought. I like this section as we found that we were very lucky and received gifts from lots of people, even people that we aren't very close to and it has been lovely to note these all down so we don't forget. The only section here that we've not completed is the birth announcement page - this takes up a whole page yet we sent texts and emails to let everyone know about our daughter's birth, I think this page is more targeted at birth announcements made a more traditional way eg via a newspaper that you could stick in.
5. Baby's Firsts
This is the section that we are currently spending most time on although I've not remembered to note down some of the firsts it mentioned so I've had to leave these blank (for example, the first time she laughed. There never seemed to be a set day where this just happened, it was more of a progression from smiles to bigger giggles!). Other areas covered are their first foods, mealtimes and foods liked and disliked, first outings and first holidays. These are a little out of order depending on your circumstances - our first outing as a family for example was when she was just over a week old and this comes after the first meals part which was when she around 6 months old!
6. The First Year
This section will be the next we complete, as my daughter turns 1 soon. There are many pages to note what she looks like after a year and space for pictures. There's also a couple of pages to include how baby's first birthday is spent. There is a section for entering information about a christening but again this is entirely dependant on whether there's been one or not.
7. Special Moments
This is the final section and most of which we haven't completed eg a section for her second birthday and how she gets ready for bed and bedtime stories. This doesn't apply to us just yet. The last pages talk about our dreams for her and I have completed some of this because this can be done from day one. I've completed some and plan to complete more as she grows older.
This is a beautiful book and by far the nicest I came across. There's so much to fill out although my one criticism would probably be that there needs to be more generic sections to it. It assumes that everyone has a typical family structure - more often than not this isn't the case. For example, I'd have liked to have seen a section for a family tree that I could complete myself with the various branches, not structured so much that there's only room for a Mummy, Daddy and two sets of grandparents. I've had to squeeze in her extra set of grandparents so that everyone gets a mention. Ideally I think there should also be a bit more space for portrait photos as well as the landscape ones.
I rate the book 4 stars in total. It's a superb book to record those precious memories with just those minor points taking a star away.
Thanks for reading :o)
At a Glance A keepsake book to celebrate your baby's first years. Features and benefits for ELC Exclusive Baby Record Book This beautifully illustrated journal is perfect for recording the special moments in your baby's first years. With wallets, a keepsake envelope and plenty of space for photographs.