Monday, March 31, 2014

Photos vs. Video for Documenting & Tracking Baby's Progress

Despite the fact that we all carry pretty high quality video cameras with us at all times, parents still seem to rely on photos for the majority of their documentation of their little ones.  Sure they'll capture a bunch of videos here and there, but when it comes to either hiring a professional or putting it all together to create a time capsule of sorts, they usually turn to photographers and or create scapbooks.  Perhaps this is the case because it's easier to create a photo book than it is to edit a video together, especially with all of the online companies that have such cute templates, or maybe parents are just so used to newborn and maternity photo shoots that they don't think about professional video in the same way.

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of sponsoring the Biggest Baby Shower Los Angeles with Big City Moms.  I set up a table like all of the other vendors, and even had a video looping some of the Video Baby Books I've shot.  I also spread out some of the photobooks I have created for my little guy, including the guestbook we had for his first birthday party, a hybrid first year baby book and guestbook for our friends and relatives that attended the party.  Despite the fact that people enjoyed watching the videos, many still seemed more interested in having me help them to create their photo scrap books.  I proceeded to ask them if they are capturing their own videos, which they are, but they still didn't seem to get why creating a video montage ultimately will be so much more powerful of a memory for themselves, and eventually their little one.

My hairdresser reaffirmed my point of view the other day when she told me that her most prized possession is a video she has of herself with her parents at nine months old.  Sure a photo from that same time period could be a great memory and could have captured some special moments, but it would lack the audio that can further communicate feelings and emotions. In addition, a lot of photos are posed, and therefore lack some reality behind the interactions.  Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love looking at professional newborn photos. I wish that we had done a shoot ourselves.  However, I would love even more seeing a new mom watching her little one be posed in all of the cute positions and set up with props and wardrobe options.  I would empathize with her doing her best to comfort and nurse her baby back to a sleepy state in between clicks of the camera in order to get the timeless shots she so desires.

The newborn cry that seemed to be so ingrained in my head during the early days with my little guy really does fade away.  It's only through watching the videos I took during that early time that I can truly remember not only his sound, but how that sound made me feel as a new mom doing everything I could every time I heard it. I definitely "ooo" and "aww" over photos from those early days, but hearing my voice in the videos really brings me back to that sleep deprived time when I was just getting to know my son.

There is no contest when it comes to video over photos of most milestones.  I do tell parents that they shouldn't be so concerned with capturing every first, as the second, third, and even fourth time baby does something it will look pretty similar.  We have very early footage of my son sleeping and making some very funny faces. I am so glad we thought to film it.  Early video footage of my son learning to roll over not only captures his progress, but the pride and joy in my voice as I watch him get closer and closer to accomplishing it. Hearing my son belly laugh for the first time has to be one of my most favorite sounds in the whole world.  Sure I could have taken a picture when this event happened, but my reaction to him will be something he will treasure as well.  His wobble legs slowly taking one step and then another without holding on to anything could never be duplicated in a single still frame. A slide show of photos tracking development is fun to watch, but the one year montage I created for my son of his first year of life really shows all of the little developments as they occur and how we, his parents, grew more proud with each one he accomplished.

Perhaps I'm just a biased filmmaker that I tend to prefer video over photography. But I truly do believe that when my son grows up, he will treasure the time capsules I have made for him in his Video Baby Book.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Milestones...Pesky Milestones!

As I struggle to get my toddler to sleep over an hour past his bedtime (partly my fault), I think back to how just one week ago he finally slept through the night for the very first time...only to torment me the following night by waking up twice, the second time not going back to sleep for over two hours.  It got me to thinking about how certain milestones are really misleading.  What I mean is that for some milestones, once they're reached, there is no going back.  For others, however, wavering is more likely than not, and that's what makes them so frustrating.  I know I cannot be the only parent that is up late searching Google just to make sure that I'm not doing something wrong as a parent.

Obviously, once baby can hold his head up, it's not like he'll go back to being all "floppy." That milestone is pretty easy to identify and definitely deserves some celebration. Once your little on rolls over, typically they want to do it over and over again.  It may take a day or two before they really get the hang of it, but it's not something they flat out refuse to do after doing it once.  The same goes for crawling, once your baby realizes they can get their toy on their own, they're gonna do it instead of waiting for you.  Some kids start crawling later than others, but again, once they start they typically do not stop.

However, I've heard many parents mention that they're child will take a few steps, then choose to go back to crawling because they're just better at it (and less prone to bruises).  Walking isn't a line that is crossed, never to be retreated from again.  My son didn't actually crawl all that long and I honestly think he wanted to skip it all together. He did eventually start crawling around eight months, but just two and a half months later he was walking and never looked back.  So for us, this was a milestone that had some finality to it.

Eating solids really shouldn't be considered a milestone, especially for those kids who are born prematurely, due to gut maturity and actual gestational age.  I read that "food before one was just for fun," and tried to let that be my mantra as my kid spit out countless homemade purees after hitting the six month mark.   It finally changed when I allowed him to play with the puffs that melt in the mouth. He eventually chose to put them in his mouth and still loves them to this day.   Of course not getting any teeth until fifteen months made eating certain foods more difficult.  And it did cause quite a bit of frustration when he didn't want to eat purees anymore but couldn't really chew either.  Thankfully this isn't an issue anymore.

Sleeping through a night, the milestone I hate the most right now. It's really unfortunate that some parents use this milestone as a barometer for how good of a parent they are.  I've read countless articles on sleep training and night nursing and night weaning and co-sleeping and everything in between.  My little guy just likes waking up for a snack, sometimes it's a few hours after going to sleep, sometimes it's just a few hours before his final wake up.  I guess I can't blame him. It's probably pretty comforting and if I knew of a fail safe way to fall back asleep after waking up for no reason at all, I probably wouldn't hesitate to ask for it, again and again and again...

The next milestone to "achieve" will be potty training, or rather toilet educating.  Just like the sleeping through the night regression, my son really liked his little potty the first day we brought it home.  He actually went on it, twice.  Fast forward to two weeks later and he'll flat out deny when he is going to avoid me asking if he wants to sit on the potty.  As I recently learned, this milestone will be a lot easier if I just let him take the lead.  After all, it's not like I had to "teach" him to hold his head up, that one he figured out all by himself. The same probably goes for most milestones honestly: the more we try to force our kids to reach a supposed mile marker to make ourselves feel better that we're good parents, the more we'll feel badly for them missing the mark and will make our kids feel badly as well.  It is important to make sure that are kids are moving forward and developing, but reaching certain goals by a strict deadline can't be what it's all about. Sleep is over rated anyway, right?