Introduction: Paper Baby Age Blocks
When I was pregnant, I saw people taking pictures of their babies with fun baby age blocks and I wanted them and I saw some in the store, but I knew I really should make them. I first wanted to make them from wood (those are still in progress but not very far in progress) but then I thought I should make easy paper ones.
You can approach this pretty basic, but I still wanted them to look nice even if they were going to be made just out of paper. I started these before getting my Silhouette and they were actually kind of difficult to make when it came to cutting out the numbers, but it is still possible to do this all by hand. But if you have a Silhouette machine, this is going to be very quick and easy :)
Step 1: Supplies
I used various supplies when making these, but you can go as complicated or as basic as you want. I'll talk about what I used but also what you can do if you don't have the tools I have.
I started making these before I got my Silhouette Cameo and it is possible, but it takes a lot more time and effort.
- Silhouette Cameo - you can use the Portrait for everything except the big age block, which needs to be cut from 12 x 12 paper.
- Scoring Board - (optional) just makes folding the blocks easier and I had one so I used it
- 1 Sheet of 12 x 12 White Cardstock*
- 2-3 Sheets of 8.5 x 11 White Cardstock - you need 1 for each block you make, I made 3 so I needed 3 sheets
- Scrapbook Paper in different colors and patterns
- You can use just 1 color or as many as you want. I used 4 different patterns.
- The paper I used was the same thickness as printer paper. You don't need cardstock for this part, I thought printer paper thickness would be easier to work with on the block.
- If you use just 1 color, you'll need 2 sheets of 12x12 because all the words and numbers won't quite fit on 1 sheet. If you use more than 1 color, you'll only need 1 sheet of each but it can't hurt to have more in case of mistakes.
- Double Sided Tape
*For those who don't use it often, Cardstock is thicker than normal printer paper and better for making sturdier blocks.
Step 2: Files
For my blocks, I used the font KBCloudyDay. You may need that font if you use the Silhouette files, but you might not. You can also replace it with your own font, just keep the curved corner squares the same size if you want them to fit on the blocks of the files provided.
I have attached my Silhouette files but also PDFs if you want to try to print them out and use them as stencils. Unfortunately, because of the size of the large block, I can't create a PDF of it; it's too big.
To use the Silhouette files, open them and then create new documents and copy over whatever numbers and words you want for each color you cut out of. You can use all the same, 4 different colors (like I did), or 6 so you have a different color on each side.
You need to decide what you want on the blocks. I based mine on ones you can just buy anywhere so I had:
1 large block: days, weeks, months, years
2 small blocks:
- Block 1: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
- Block 2: 0, 1, 2, 6, 7, 8 (I used my 6 as a 9 as well)
- Block 3 (I made this one later when I decided I wanted to photograph her at 100 days and 111 days): 0, 1, 2, 8, 6, 7
You can also make other special large blocks with things like Father's Day, Mother's Day, Easter, Christmas, anything.
Here is how I grouped my numbers and words per color if you are interested:
Small Block 1
- Dark Pink: 1
- Pink: 0, 3
- Purple: 2, 5
- Blue: 4
Small Block 2
- Dark Pink: 2, 8
- Pink: 6
- Purple: 0
- Blue: 1, 7
- Dark Pink: Years, square end
- Pink: Weeks, square end
- Purple: Days
- Blue: Months
Small Block 3
- Light Pink: 1, 8
- Dark Pink: 0, 5
- Blue: 9
- Purple: 4
Step 3: Cutting Out the Cubes
It's pretty easy to make them with the Cameo. Just open the files for the blocks, load the machine with the appropriately sized paper (either 8.5x11 or 12x12), and cut out the block. Once it is cut out, you can line it up on your scoring board and score the flaps and between the square sides if you want. You don't have to, it's just easier for folding and assembling later.
If you have the scoring board, put on your 8.5 x 11 paper and while having the sheet portrait, score at .5, 3, 5.5, and 8 inches. Then turn the sheet landscape and score it at .5, 3, 5.5, 8, and 10.5 inches. You are also going to have to partially score the sheet while it is portrait at 2.5 and 6 inches for the tabs but these scores CANNOT be the full length of the sheet or they will make up the sides of the cube. Some of these lines will be scores and some you can use to cut along. Look at the second picture above and if that doesn't make sense and you need more information for this, comment below and I'll see if I can do a little video clip to clarify.
Now for the 12 x 12 paper for the larger block. Score at .5, 3, 8, 10.5, and 11 inches. Turn the sheet and score at 2.5, 5, 7.5, 10, and 10.5 inches. To get the extra tabs, turn it back the way you had it first and score partially at 2.5 and 8.5 inches. Again, if this doesn't make sense and you need these directions, ask in the comments below.
Step 4: Making Numbers and Words
Separate out the words and numbers into separate files and cut them out on the colors you want (check out Step 2 for reference). If it matters to you, pay attention to what color you want each number cut out of. For example, I really like the number 11, so I made sure the 2 1s I cut out were of different colors so they would look nicer when I used them.
Print off the numbers and words and carefully cut them all out with an Exacto knife. You can try to use scissors but an Exacto will be more accurate.
Use these as stencils and cut out the numbers and words you want from each color of paper. (For best results, flip over the stencil and trace on the back of your colored paper, then you won't have pencil marks on the front.)
For both methods, you want to keep the square part and then any inner pieces such as the middle of the 0, 8, and 6 and the small pieces inside the e, a, and o. The letters and numbers themselves you won't need.
Step 5: Assembly
Time to put it together!
Use your glue stick to put your numbers and words on the blocks. Where they go on the block won't matter. I tried to make it so no color touched itself, but it really won't matter.
Remember to glue down those small pieces.
Once you have them all on, let the glue dry. You don't want them coming off.
Before putting the cubes together, gently bend all the tabs and lines between sides. Only do this a little, as shown in photos 3 and 4. If you bend them too much, it could make it harder to put together, so bend less than 90 degrees.
Now, put your double sided tape on the tabs. It is okay if it goes off the edge because it will be inside the block and won't matter. Carefully push the tabs on the best you can (see image 6). The last side and tabs will be difficult, but push them down to the best of your ability.
Step 6: Taking Photos
If you take them every week like me, she'll start to look the same, but if you look back at the beginning and compare it to now, it's pretty crazy to see the difference.
Now it is time to use them. You are going to want these ready ahead of time because once you have the baby free time is hard to come by. If you are going to want to use them for either 1, 2, or 3 days old, you should probably bring them along to the hospital with you since you won't be home until the baby is a few days old at least. Also plan ahead if there are special days you want to get. For example, I did 18 days because she was born on the 18th. And I did 11 and 111 days because I love the number 1.
When to take the pictures:
When your baby is really little, I suggest just waiting until she is asleep. It's just easier. As they get older and are awake more, I suggest doing it sometime after she eats as she'll be the most cooperative. Just make sure it isn't too soon after eating if you are laying her down so she doesn't get reflux. If you try to take pictures when she's tired, you'll have a very fussy baby. Also, try to plan for good lighting like you would with any photos.
Where to take pictures:
When she was little (and I lived in my tiny cottage) I took them on the bed with a plain blanket under her. I also used her crib as it was easy and the sheet on it worked for the background. Now I usually use a blanket on the floor, a blanket draped on the couch (when I try to prop her up) or a blanket on a little bouncer that helps keep her sitting still.
What you need:
The blocks for sure, but there are other things to have on hand. Like I mentioned earlier, make sure you have lights. Having different blankets or sheets of fabric are nice. I usually use a white blanket I have, but I like to change it up once in a while and use other ones. It is also good to have toys that make noise. I always shake a toy behind my camera to try to get her to laugh. When they are young, she won't laugh or smile but you can at least get her looking in the right direction.
What will you do with the photos:
If you know what you want the images for, pay attention to orientation. I try to take both landscape and portrait images so I have a variety to choose from for different things.
Remember to take some without the blocks. Those are always nice to have especially if your little one is feeling particularly smiley. Lots of times I'll look at ones I took and think I wish I had taken some without the blocks just because having nice pictures of her are just nice to have.
Step 7: What Do You Do With All These Pictures?
Now you have all of these pictures. What do you do with them?
Well, so far I've used them for a photo book I made of her first 4 months. I took a screen shot of the spread I did.
Another idea is to get a multi-image/collage frame. A frame that holds 12 images, like this one, is great for showing off her monthly shots.
And of course, there is social media where you can show off your pictures to people who are too far away to see her in person :)
Also, I like to leave the blocks sitting on a shelf with her current age because they look so nice!