Baby books have gone digital (no offense, scrapbooks). The latest apps pull photos, timestamps and locations from your smartphone to pull all the memories together easily. The best part is that your books are private — sacred keepsakes for your eyes only or for those of trusted loved ones. We rounded up a few of the most gorgeous and user-friendly ways to journal digitally. Heyday
What It Does: This journaling app is a fuss-free way to record memories, baby-centric or otherwise. Like other apps, it imports photos from your phone. Unlike other apps, though, it has the smarts to group together photos based on time period or subjects in the picture, then automatically creates a collage and applies filters to present you that memory in a dreamy, storyboard-like format. This is awesome news for parents who don’t have time for drag-and-drop collage apps and photo editing.
How It Works: Swap out and spiff up photos to your heart’s content, choosing from over 50 collage layouts and 18 filters. From then on, wherever you go and make a pit stop, the app automatically records that location (dry cleaners, playground, café) without you having to stop and check in. When you have the time, add comments. The possibilities are endless: Remember what chicken dish your fussy eater liked the last time you dined out, create a mini montage for that recent road trip, or chronicle a rare date night. The beauty of Heyday is that it can be as kid-focused — or not — as you want it to be, and tidies up your day’s activities so that next time a friend asks “What’d you do today?” you’ll actually remember.
Good To Know: The app is private, so others can’t track you, but you can tag friends and family or share content on Facebook, Twitter, email or text. The downside is that content depends on your photos, so you can’t add text on its own. But for busy moms, a visual collage is just about all we have time and energy for. Free for iPhone (join the waiting list for Android). More info online at hey.co.
What It Does: Next time your child doubts how special he is, whip out this app to prove it. Tinybeans lets you create a profile for each of your tiny beans to chronicle their growth. Ages are marked to the day, perfect for both newborns and big kids who like calculating exactly how old they are.
How It Works: Upload photos of each kid to each profile, then dive into the journal that has three main parts. First, there’s “treasure,” which shows a calendar format for you to add “moments” (photos or videos) with notes. Second, there’s “shape,” which is the classic baby-book record keeper. It lets you note height and weight, then a checklist of age-appropriate milestones for cognitive, speech and motor skills, plus special firsts like first tooth, first time riding a bike or first day of school. The “shape” tab also has helpful, skim-able articles sponsored by Scholastic and Dettol that include over a dozen age-appropriate book titles, suggestions on how to encourage reading in daily life, or multitasking cleaning tips. The last tab is “share,” where you can show off to friends and family who can then like or comment on your photos.
Good To Know: You, and loved ones, can even log in online — perfect for smartphone-less relatives. You can also create and order a photobook ($49.95-$99.95) simply by choosing months you want to include and tweaking photos from there. Be sure to follow the Tinybeans blog, full of handy tips on how to get the most out of the app, like how to sync Instagram photos to your moments calendar with a simply hashtag. Free on iTunes and Android. More info online at tinybeans.com.
What It Does: Dubbed “a time machine for parents,” Lifecake is the DeLorean of scrapbooking apps. What sets this apart from the others is the visual timeline you can scroll through; any time you wonder how in the world your kid has gotten so big, swipe through her profile to time-travel back to those newborn days in a matter of seconds.
How It Works: Like Tinybeans, you create a profile for each child, then match photos; every photo will display the child’s age to the day. The draw of Lifecake is that you don’t have to fuss with overwhelming memory book prompts. You can record notes or comments, however, which will appear amidst the Pinterest-worthy photo collages; and add “stories,” like the moment you knew the baby was coming, or the happiest video you have of your little one. The “shake” feature is a clever one: Shake your phone or iPad, and the app will bring up the 10 most popular pictures.
Good To Know: Other neat details include the ability to upgrade to a whopping 100GB for a $36 annual fee, ensuring you won’t miss a single thing on any given day. Photobooks are also an option ($50 for 80 pages) and automatically load photos chronologically. If it’s a gift for someone who likes or comments often, like Grandma, it’ll load those high-activity photos for you. Those days of uploading photos one by one and spending hours formatting them just right? Truly a thing of the past. Free on iTunes and Android. More info online at lifecake.com.
Have you tried a digital journaling app? Let us know about it in the Comments!
— Selena Kohng