My son recently turned one, and I still can’t believe it. One minute they are helpless newborns and the next they are eating solid food and toddling around! Where does the time go?? Somehow we made it through the sleepless nights and the diaper blowouts. Somehow, even with all of my inexperience, he learned how to roll over, crawl, say words, and has begun to walk! Also, I don’t know about you, but with all of the things that a baby could possibly choke on and all the ways they can do to harm to themselves, I am grateful that I kept my son alive for an entire year!
Taking all of this into consideration, turning one is a big deal. One year old birthdays are an important event for your baby, and even more so a rite of passage for you as a parent. For these reasons, this is one of those days that you will want to document. Here are some tips for how to make this a day you’ll never forget.
Tips for how to document your child’s first birthday
1. Have a party with a cake smash
I was a little wary at first to throw a party for my son. Afterall, he won’t remember it when he’s older, it would be difficult to time his naps, and I didn’t want to be seen as “one of those parents” by friends I would invite. However, after having successfully thrown our first one year old party, I’m so glad we did it.
First and most importantly, my son had a lot of fun. There were balloons, presents, friends, and lots of exciting things to look at. Plus, he LOVED eating the cake because we hadn’t really given him a ton of sugar up until the party. Second, I got to recreate my grandmother’s famous cookie monster cake that she makes for all of her children and grandkids when they turn one. For me, that was special. Third, it was fun being with our friends. We played games with the other adults and socialized while we ate cookies, cake and ice cream. So in the end, totally worth it. Having a party with a cake smash will make some fun memories.
2. Take pictures with a camera, not just your phone.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my iphone. You can take some pretty high quality pictures these days with phones. But this is one of those classic moments that you’ll want a higher quality photo to recall. If you’re not comfortable with a DSLR camera or you don’t have one, it’s usually pretty easy to find a friend or hire a photographer that can help. Trust me, it will be worth it!
3. Save time before the party to prepare for pictures
Since your child will be smashing a cake and moving around quite a bit, I recommend getting to the party early to figure out lighting and camera settings prior to the stress of the moment. That way you can capture some shots of your little cutie prior to the distractions of the party and mess of the cake. Make sure you get at least one picture of them with a balloon or present, as well as in their high chair without the cake! There will be plenty of time to get pictures with them with their cake. Also, consider what they are wearing to the party. Make sure it doesn’t clash with any decorations you may have.
For majority of the party, I ended up switching off between the sports setting and the automatic setting on my DSLR to avoid making things too complicated or having to adjust mid party. These settings worked great for me because the natural lighting of the room was great, and because my son was wiggling around quite a bit. These automatic settings have high shutter speeds (accounting for the wiggling). I also made sure to take some manual shots with a low F-stop to get more of a portrait of him. This put him in focus and the things in the background a bit more blurred.
4. Have someone else video the birthday song
I love video. It’s such a great way to capture a moment in time. For my son’s birthday, I had a great friend that offered to record this moment for us, and I’m so glad she did! Having someone else video the birthday song allows you to have your hands free and really enjoy the big moment of your child leaving babyhood. Holding the cake, helping them blow out the candle, modeling how to smash and eat the cake are all things you can’t do while holding your phone. However, the video of everyone singing happy birthday and them “blowing” out the candle is priceless and definitely worth getting. This makes a wonderful portion of an annual highlight video or baby’s first year video montage. To learn more about Savor Your Story’s Video services, click here.
5. Write down your feelings in your journal
It doesn’t matter when you do this, as long as it’s pretty close to when your child turns one. I might suggest blocking out some time especially for this so you aren’t distracted by everything else going on. The point of this journal entry, as with others, is to capture a moment in time: to record things that you won’t remember down the road. Some things you may consider writing about:
- Your feelings for your child. This could even be done in the form of a letter from you to them. It can also just be a regular journal entry.
- How their first party went. They won’t remember it themselves without your help! Make sure you include details like what the theme of the party was, who was there, how your child reacted after eating cake, etc.
- Milestones they have achieved or funny things they are currently doing. This doesn’t have to be anything crazy… you know as well as I do that kids seem to grow up before our very eyes. Capture this moment in time because it will soon be gone. Record the little things like “coughing for attention” or “saying the word ball” or “hating the texture of cottage cheese”. Looking back is very fun, especially when it’s recorded in a baby book. More info on that here.
These are just some ways that you can document your child’s first birthday. What are ways that you have found? We’d love to hear them in the comments. We found that following these tips allowed us to be present for this special day, while also remembering it for many more days to come.