Every one of my children has had a baby box. Nothing wonderfully special to look at and definitely nothing expensive. Just a large. plain wooden box with a lid that can be stored safely up in the loft without fear that the contents are going to get damp, spoiled or nibbled by the odd Houdini field mouse (we live surrounded by wheat fields and I’m flummoxed as to how they get in).
Plastic boxes would have worked well too, just as long as everything can be kept dry and safe.
The contents are carefully wrapped to ensure they are well preserved. Strong, rigid acid-free envelopes and plastic wallets for papers and cards. Vacuum sealed pouches for items of clothing.
The boxes stay where we can regularly add to them for the first 2 or 3 years of little one’s life until they finally get full. Then they’re carefully sealed and safely stored away before we start on the next box of childhood memories.
My own baby memory box is one of my most treasured possessions as an adult.
It’s something I inherited once I had children of my own. Safely stored away, loved and truly appreciated.
It’s full of keepsakes that my parents thought significant enough to store away for the next 20 years. Things they thought would be important to me.
Baby memory boxes are more than somewhere safe to store a few keepsakes, they tell a much bigger story than that.
They give an insight into childhood, parents and family at a point in time. A snap shot of what life was like.
So what goes inside?
I never start filling the boxes until the little one finally makes their way into the world. Then I start adding the contents.
There’s loads at first, then it tapers off.
First to go inside are all the pregnancy and hospital keepsakes. Scan pictures and a few pregnancy photographs. Photographs of our family in day-today clothes at that point in time. Something normal, not too dressed up. Then my pregnancy diary (which is always a bit hit and miss).
There’s our list of potential baby names. Hospital name tags from both of us, little ones going home outfit and some printed photographs of baby’s first few weeks.
If you can possibly manage it, a USB stick with a few short videos is also a wonderful addition.
Then popular culture momentos from the day and the week of birth. These usually have to be collected quite promptly so you don’t end up missing them.
A national newspaper and local newspaper with the day’s stories and headlines. A lottery ticket from that week (I’m not entirely sure why as we’ve only ever won £10 once). A list of the top 40 singles of that week. The top albums. A list of what was on in the cinema. A TV guide. A copy of a magazine you currently like to read (there’s probably loads more).
Then we have keepsakes from family and friends. Cards, small gifts and maybe a helium balloon from well-wishers.
Each of my children has been gifted a special classic story book; a handmade baby blanket and hat; a set of special issue stamps from Royal Mail and a dated set of collectable coins from the Royal Mint.
There really are so many amazing things you can add to a baby keepsake box to remind you of this extraordinarily special time.
A time you are more of less guaranteed to forget in the utter haze that seems to descend in the weeks and months that follow having a baby.
So here’s list of a few of my favourite thing to add to a baby box. Just remember to never add anything that is going to spoil or go mouldy. No pieces of cake!
A note to baby, telling them a little about what life is like on the day they were born and an ‘All about Us’ sheet, giving details all about our little family.
A Year I Was Born list or certificate detailing what was going on in the world at the time (top singles, albums, tv shows, movies, toys……………..).
Photos of yourself, baby and any other family you would like to include. It’s amazing to see how people change as they get older!
Your pregnancy diary, or a journal kept of babies first year (if you’ve kept one).
Your list of favourite potential baby names – girls and boys.
Baby scan photographs and those little hospital name tags that go around sweet little ankles and wrists, given pout before baby even had a name and was referred to as Baby ----------.
Umbilical cord clip. OK, so not to everybody’s taste, but a lot of people really do keep these as a reminder of what gave little one life for those 9 long months.
A going home outfit, complete with tiny baby nappy (an unused one) and the compulsory hat to stop little one getting chilly on the drive home.
A local and national newspaper with the day’s stories and headlines.
Cards and a deflated helium balloon from loved ones. Maybe even a dried or preserved bunch of flowers if you have the time or inclination.
Babies first comforter, be it a fluffy blanket; a floppy eared bunny rabbit or a very first dummy.
Baby hand and foot casts - Pretty much the only way you are ever going to remember exactly how tiny those feet really were. Totally worth it, even if you end up buying several kits, or having them professionally made.
Baby handprints and footprints. These can be taken in skin safe plaster, or printed in safe ink or paint. Just remember that it’ll probably take about a thousand attempts to get anything that resembles a perfect print. Babies really do like to keep their hands clenched in tiny fists. The best time to attempt this is when they are warm, fed and asleep.
A christening outfit; christening photos; christening cake decorations and candle, so you can remember back to the last time they looked like a small Victorian doll.
A scrapbook full of baby moments and baby firsts. Document your precious days. You’ll always be glad you did.
Videos! However you manage to take or save them (USB sticks are fabulous), nothing quite beats actually seeing people and moments moving and speaking on a screen.
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