I recently watched a friend obsess over her baby’s pictures. She decided that she would document her little girl’s growth every month. She pored over rows and rows of baby month sticker designs and tried to decide if the pink whale or purple chevron was better. She debated the need for a custom onesie or personalized bib. Everything had to be perfect for the baby’s picture day. The stickers had to match her outfit, the blanket could not have wrinkles, and the background lighting had to look natural.

She made her own headband and ironed the baby’s onesie. The final photos were adorable, and she proudly announced she would make new ones every month. Although she did not realize it, my friend had joined the popular trend of documenting every step of a child’s life. She had made a commitment to track her daughter’s growth and changes.

The growth of social media has made sharing your baby’s new outfit or toddler’s macaroni art creation a simple process. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest and other networks are filled with images of kids proudly holding up their report cards and trophies. However, parents are also documenting mundane daily tasks such as driving their kids to school or buying art supplies for projects. 

Although critics have disparaged the practice, documenting your child’s life does have positive aspects. If you are able to remain in the moment and not allow the camera to take over your life, then taking pictures and videos can be beneficial. First, you create a record of your child’s life that can be shared with other family members. This is useful for those who often regret that long distances keep them away from enjoying your kid’s birthday party. Second, the photos and videos can become your own memory books.

There are more subtle examples of the benefits of documenting everything. One family shared that they were able to use the photos stored in an online cloud to prove their insurance claim after a disaster because the pictures helped them put together an inventory for the insurance company. Another family used their large files of photos to track a child’s illness and helped their doctor find a diagnosis faster. One mother noticed a strange issue with her baby’s eye in photos and later learned it was cancer.

The photos you take today can become family treasures in the future. If you consider how many people struggle to piece together their family’s ancestry and history with scraps of yellowed pictures, then your contributions may make a descendant’s life easier. You can fill in the gaps that often frustrate researchers who want to create a valid family tree. 

As long as you can find a balance between documenting your child’s life and enjoying the moment, then you can have your cake pop and forget the calories. You should not hide behind the camera or worry about forgetting to take a picture of your child eating avocado for the first time. Instead, you want to find a way to take pictures and stay connected to the world you are photographing at the same time.