25 Super-Cool Baby Keepsakes For New Dads!

It all began with a pee stick.

It all started the day my wife surprised me with a little wrapped present after work one evening. I was surprised, mostly because we weren’t ‘little presents’ people, but still I was excited to see what she’d gotten for me.


Inside was a copy of the book What To Expect When You’re Expecting .

And tucked into the back of the book was a little bookmark she had thrown in. It was a pregnancy test: a positive one.

So, just like that our lives were changed forever, and just like that we were both thrust into a new reality for the rest of our days. I decided right then that I had to save that positive pee stick, as a page in a story that I was going to sit down and tell my little girl someday.

And I never looked back either. I made it my duty to collect all kinds of keepsakes that I could put away in a big plastic box I bought at Target. I planned to keep them for the next fifteen years or so until someday, when my little girl was a teenager, I could sit her down with me on some front porch and crack open the story she could hold in her sweet hands.

It was going to be the story of her, told from the minute we knew she was coming to us until the moment we sat down there together to dig through the past.

I reveled in the collecting. Not a week went by when at least a little something went in to the magic box.

Then this past January we had a fire in our house. And yeah: we lost the box; my younger son’s too. And even though we were not injured and life was to go on: I was secretly devastated. But what can you do? You live and you learn.

I have started new boxes for my son and my daughter, collections of stuff that dear old dad feels might be interesting someday down the road. So here are some of my better ideas. I hope you might like them and start a box of keepsakes to help tell the story of your kid’s first year too.

Just make the box a fireproof one. Trust me.

  • School Daze 1 of 25
    School Daze
    Listen, if you went to one of those pre-baby classes, good on ya'. Simply put: attending one of those things to learn about what's going on in the womb or how to breath while hugging a pillow or whatever is just awesome. And by going you showed that your head was fully in the game/that you really cared, even long before the little one came into port. I saved the paper flyer that advertised the class and the two or three orientation pages they gave my wife and I that first Saturday morning when we waltzed in with a bunch of other parental greenhorns. I just had a feeling that someday my daughter would love seeing how crazy her mom and dad were about her, even in the days before we knew her yet.
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  • In The Cards 2 of 25
    In The Cards
    You know all of those pre-natal appointments that the Mrs. had to go to, the ones where the doctor first let you both hear the heartbeat of your baby? When the doctor talked to her about how much she is puking and eating burritos dipped in chocolate (or whatever strange cravings she's been feasting upon?) Well, save all the little cards the receptionist gave you guys to remind you of the date and time. Together they tell a really captivating tale about the months leading up to the big birthday. Think how cool it will be someday when your son or daughter can shuffle through them and know that: HEY! 20 years ago today, Mom and Dad were heading to the Doc's office to get ready for my arrival. They're something most people probably just toss away, but that's a shame because they make for a one-of-a-kind keepsake.
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  • We Almost Called You Petunia 3 of 25
    We Almost Called You Petunia
    One of the coolest things that expectant parents get to do is sit on the couch or around the kitchen table with a pen and paper and bounce baby names off of each other. We've all done it and it never ever gets old, huh? And what a killer little memento for your kid to check out with you both someday. All those possible names that Mom and Dad had jotted down, in their own handwriting; and right there between a couple of things you are super glad you were not named, is the one you were given. It will stand out like a lighthouse in the dark. And it will be almost impossible to imagine that you just might have been named something else.
  • Pictures From The Other Size 4 of 25
    Pictures From The Other Size

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  • Shower Power 5 of 25
    Shower Power
    Inevitably, with the coming of your first child, some peeps are going to throw Baby Mama an afternoon to remember in the form of a baby shower. There will be funny onesies and diapesr that look like blue jeans and lots of chips and dips and cracking up. It'll be an excellent day, no doubt. So save a couple of the invitations that went out to announce the gathering. Years from now, your grown-up kid will love seeing that retro invite to the very first Earthly party ever thrown in his or her honor.
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  • The Boarding Pass 6 of 25
    The Boarding Pass
    Nothing says, 'Hey ya'll, I have ARRIVED!' quite like that birth certificate they send you when the stork finally drops you from the sky. Of course, as parents you are going to really need that piece of paper for a lot of stuff in the years to come, but make a simple copy or two to throw in the old keepsake box. That way, no matter what junk drawer the original is hiding out in, the kids will have a copy of it to look at and smile while they are digging through all this stuff that Mom and Dad packed away long ago.
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  • Tiny Footprints 7 of 25
    Tiny Footprints
    Nowadays, most hospitals are required to take an inky footprint or two from all the new infants in their midst. It's a security measure naturally, but most joints do a cool job at giving a cute little collectible copy to the parents too. Now, some folks might want to frame that original and hang it up in the house or the apartment and that's understandable. But, if you think of it, make a copy for the time capsule too. Your young one will love seeing that later on in life. And if you're lucky enough to be there with them when they are checking it out: I can guarantee you that a lot of memories of that moment when the nurse took the prints are going to come flooding back to you, memories you're child is going to dig hearing you re-live.
    Photo Credit: Monica Bielanko
  • Ain’t Nothin’ Like The Real Thing, Baby 8 of 25
    Ain't Nothin' Like The Real Thing, Baby
    Look, these days everything is digital. We both know that. In a weird way, you could probably just fill a shoebox up with a stack of DV-Rs and DVDs and despite the cold plastic appearance, have yourself one heck of a collection of memories and documents. But, there is still something to be said for the magic of certain outdated things. Personally, I think having a couple of stacks of actual photographs that you can flip through and smudge up with your big thumbs, that is just plain awesomeness. So, if you see where I'm coming from, go ahead and snap away on that little digital camera...take a zillion photos from the moment that little head first pops out into the light of this world. But then, after you all get home and settled, take the time to head over to Wal-Mart or wherever and have some prints made of your gretatest shots. It'll cost just a couple of bucks, but it'll be worth it's weight in gold. Seriously.
    Photo Credit: Monica Bielanko
  • The Three Bracelets 9 of 25
    The Three Bracelets
    When our kids were born, I just kept reaching down in the hospital on that first night together, looking at that little hospital bracelet on their teeny wrist. It's just a ten cent piece of plastic with a bit of typing on it to most of the world, but to Mom and Dad it is the crown of the king or the queen of their new world. Seeing that tiny printed name on there makes it all so official and so beautifully real, I think. Those hospital bracelets are awesome keepsakes too, people. Baby's and Mom's and Dad's: keep 'em all. Someday it'll be like holding the most valuable treasue in the universe right in your own darn hand.
    Photo Credit: Monica Bielanko
  • Daddy Was A Ham Sandwich Man 10 of 25
    Daddy Was A Ham Sandwich Man
    This one is a little out there, but that's why I like it. In order to make this collection quirky and mega-cool, you need to think a little outside the box (pun intended). So here's something I did. As the first few hours of early labor were dragging by in the hospital and my wife was just chilling out, I took a few little dashes down to the hospital cafeteria. It was a good way to give my lady some space when I could sense she wanted it, as well as a nice little break for me to grab a cup of coffee and something to eat. And so when I was down there I made sure to grab a copy of the paper menu they had sitting there to take back up to your room. It almost always has the date on it and some other interesting stuff too. In the future, your kids will laugh at you, that you included such a trivial thing in the collection of memories you put together. But mark my words: once they get a look at that thing and see that it was from the very day that they were born and that it was Italian Day or Tex-Mex Day in the cafeteria that afternoon, they are going to find it oddly excellent. Plus, in the decades to come they'll be fascinated by the fact that people were still eating REAL butter and REAL sugar and stuff like that.
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  • The Magic Love Burrito 11 of 25
    The Magic Love Burrito
    Every hospital has it's patterns. Some have stripes, some stars or storks. You might get little teddy bears or you might get just one solid gentle color. Whatever you get doesn't matter though, because when they wrap your wee baby up in one of their blankets just a few minutes after he or she is born, you automatically have inherited the greatest piece of cloth you will ever likely own. Make sure you keep it. Not right away, mind you....let the poor kid sleep for awhile; it's been a long strange trip. But, later, when the nurse comes around...or even mom, if she's up to it, and diapers are being changed...take that first blanket and tuck it away in your overnight bag. Because, my friend, that is exactly where it belongs.
    Photo Credit: Monica Bielanko
  • Onesie Number One 12 of 25
    Onesie Number One
  • Binkie Gold 13 of 25
    Binkie Gold
    Of course, shortly after the new kid on the block arrives, that tyke is going to unload enough steam to push a train around. So a binky is going to be on the menu. By all means, plug up that pie-hole! Everyone will be better off for it, including babe. But try and remember to trade out binks after a little while. Then, simply take that first one and stick it in your man-bag with the onesie and the blanket you've already "appropriated" from the hospital or birthing clinic or where ever you are. Now, you have a Big Trifecta of First Day Memories, tucked away: safe and sound.
    Photo Credit: Monica Bielanko
  • Flower Power 14 of 25
    Flower Power
    Chances are that at least a few people are going to send Mom some flowers after the baby comes. These brighten up the phonebooth they put you all in and so they are always welcome. What I did then was make sure that I saved the little cards with a message from whoever sent the bouqet. Maybe it was your best buddy or your wife's best friend. Maybe it was work. Maybe it was Grandma and Gramps. Whoever it was, there will be a short sweet couple of words on there that are worth saving for sure. Someday, your kid will read them and they will resonate across the years, and remind him or her that people out there in the bustling world were already thinking about them, even just a few hours after they were born. You could press a flower or two also if you're handy enough. Me? Flowers die as soon as I touch them. Oh well.
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  • White House Wishes 15 of 25
    White House Wishes
    One of the most remarkable things that I found out in the months leading up to our first baby's birth was that you can register to receive an absolutely free wickedly kick-butt welcome-to-the-world greeting for your child from the President and The First Lady of these United States. It takes a bit of time to arrive, so don't be looking for the mailman to be carrying it your way in the first month or anything. Yet when it finally did arrive it was everything I had hoped it would be. Is it really signed by them? No, doofus: they are pretty busy people. BUT: the little message on the card is truely inspring (at least the one from the Obamas was) and even the envelope it comes in is well worth saving and passing on to your kid. Make it happen. Write to: White House Greetings Washington, DC 20500 Include: Name of new baby Address information and Date of Birth
    Photo Credit: Monica Bielanko
  • Money Trail 16 of 25
    Money Trail
    Another slightly offbeat thing I chose to include in my time capsule of my kid's first days was a stack of receipts. Yeah, I know, receipts seem cold and impersonal, something for the tax guy to get excited about. But still, I see beyond that. Because receipts are helpful buggers when you're trying to tell a story that happened years and years ago. We all get so excited in the pregnancy months, shopping for clothes at Babies R Us, dropping a small fortune on crazy stuff like bottle warmers and onesies that look like tuxedos. What could be better than having the official record of how many times mom and dad went to Lowes in a one week period, when they were painting and decorating the nursery, getting it all ready for the Guest of Honor? Plus, receipts have the date and time on them and I like the idea of my kid possibly someday staring at a slip of paper that says that two decades ago, at this very minute, my parents were out picking up wooden letters that spell the name they chose for me: to hang above my crib before I even got there. I think it's different and very cool.
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  • News of the World 17 of 25
    News of the World
    Don't forget some newspapers and magazines too, people. Chances are that by the time your little one is old enough to even read, there won't be any more holding something in you hand to read about the world. It'll all be on-line; convenient but intangible unless you print it out on the printer. People have saved newspapers and magazines for centuries and they play a vital part in the telling of every ounce of history for the last few hundred years. If you are having a kid these days, save a few for them. They will love having that New York Times and that People magazine from the day they were born. Who wouldn't?
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  • Storybooks 18 of 25
    If you are a reader then consider this. Throwing in the novel or book that you were reading during the time leading up to your baby is a really clever way to allow him/her a little insight into exactly where your mind was at at the time they were born. If both parents throw in a book, then all the better. I remember vividly that I was up to my neck in some Charles Dickens when my daughter came to us. But even if it had been a couple of comic books, the effect would still be the same. You can include the tome not hoping that they will read it someday, but just as a little personal peek at who you were when you were chomping at the bit, so anxious to meet them.
    Photo Credit: Monica Bielanko
  • St. Elsewhere 19 of 25
    St. Elsewhere
    On the eve of my daughter's birth, I managed to snag a giftshop postcard depicting the hospital where my children were born. It was just a basic snapshot card of the front of the building and it's name and all, but finding it was like stumbling onto a fifty dollar bill for me. I was elated. Life is funny and years from now there is no telling whether you'll be living within a few miles of the materniity ward where they came into the world (or the living room or wherever). But having a small memento like a postcard in your box of magic will assure that your child will always be able to lay their eyes on the building where it all started. If you can't find a current postcard anywhere, check out Ebay. There are lots of cool vinatge ones of many many hospitals available for cheap.
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  • Best Laid Plans 20 of 25
    Best Laid Plans
    There are a lot of people these days who construct birthplans for their maternity visits. Doctors encourage it and so do many other players along the way to BabyTown. Some are basic, while others are twenty typed pages of meticulously crafted hopeful vision. Whichever way you lean, if you do in fact have a birthplan that you are planning on using, make an extra copy for the keepsake pile. Your kids will be fascinated to know just how dim you wanted the lights, where dad was going to stand, and just what song you wanted playing when the big moment unfolded.
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  • Don’t Forget That Pee Stick! 21 of 25
    Don't Forget That Pee Stick!
    I don't care about the fact that Baby Mama peed on the thing long ago: having that positive pregnancy test thingamajiggy is really quite awesome. I even saved the box ours came in and everything. Just because I was so excited about it, I guess. Plus, I was feeling really lucky to have thought of saving it for down the road. On first thought, it might seem a bit odd and all, I know. But remember how astounded and scared and overjoyed you both were when she came out of the bathroom holding that postive thing up at you. One of the best moments of mom and dad's life up until then. The stick helps tell that part of the story. Keep it around.
    Photo Credit: Monica Bielanko
  • Mommy Stuff 22 of 25
    Mommy Stuff
    This is pretty easy, but it's quite lovely and really insightful. Have mom fill a decorative box with a few things that she was loving during her pregnancy. It could be an email from a friend or a CD she was digging. Throw in a small bottle of a perfume she was a fan of at the time, and maybe a CD of a band she was into. Add a pack or two of the ginger mints that helped curb her morning sickness a bit. Nothing is off limits really, just keep it fairly small and light and you'll have a box within the box that's a priceless reminder of mom when she was a mommy-to-be.
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  • Daddy Stuff 23 of 25
    Daddy Stuff
    What you do with the mommy the same thing for dad. Throw in a sticker of his favorite team and maybe a couple stubs from the games he went to while mom was pregnant. Chuck in a menu from the BBQ place down the street where he could eat his weight in ribs and brisket. Put in a box of flies he tied one night, when he was daydreaming about the day he was gonna first take his son or daughter fishing with him. The sky's the limit, really. Whatever goes in will be more charming to your young than you could ever imagine .
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  • Counting The Days 24 of 25
    Counting The Days
    Every kitchen has a wall calendar hanging in it somewhere. Well, guess what? They're sunken treasures of storytelling, man. On New Years Day, after your little one has been born and brought home: take last year's calendar down and throw it in with the other keepsakes. Then, in the years to come, your kid will have this scribbled up detailed look at all the doctor's appointments and baby showers and stuff that filled up mom and dad's days back in the early years, when they had no idea what was coming next...unless they wrote it down on the calendar on the kitchen wall. Datebooks are fine too, of course. Use what you've got, but use it.
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  • The Letter 25 of 25
    The Letter
    Writing a letter to your unborn child, or even writing one to them after they've arrived is probably one of the single greatest things a parent can do. Think about it. If you have something like that from your mom or dad, how valuable is that letter to you? It's priceless, huh? And if you never happened to get a hold of something like that, or it's been lost along the trail, how badly do you wish you could have it in your hand if only just for a few moments? Write one of these. Write twenty of them if you want to, but at least make certain that you write the one. And encourage (DEMAND!) that your spouse do one too. The day will come when it will be someone special's most valuable possession. I promise.
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Love Is Smoke And Ash: The Fire That Stole My Baby’s Keepsakes

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