Our child’s first birthday is one of the milestone of parenting. One full year we have become parents, be responsible and nurture a little human being who is born from the mother’s womb. It is an amazing feeling. If we can look back, through facebook picture galleries among others, we can see the development of a new born baby into a one year old. Many things happened, especially for first child.
Why? Because with our first child we experience and feel it all. From not knowing how and not understanding what to do and all those fears and insecurities, then slowly become calmer, secure, and confident parents. We all get confused at the beginning: How to cradle a baby? How many baths a baby can have in a day or a week? How to feed the baby? Can I start now with solid foods? When will my baby starts crawling? It has been two months but her teeth are still two! Baby sling or a stroller? Is baby walker necessary? And so many other questions driven mostly by insecurities and worries of a first time parents. Not to mention when our baby fallen ill and have a high fever or diarrhea. The Nightmare!
And then suddenly our baby turns one year. Wow! My baby is one year old already! We cannot believe it has been one year together with our baby and now she can already stand by herself although still shaky, and slowly learn to walk and crawl at the same time. But still, our baby has little grip on what is happening on the world around her. Of course, she can easily recognize people close to her such as her parents or grandparents, but not so much of the others.
So, a baby’s first birthday is not about the baby herself or himself but it is more about the parents. It is to celebrate how wonderful we turn out to be as parents, an inner super power we did not know it even exists, and also to be thankful to others who have supported and motivated us along the way. This is however, could a different case with the second child or more, although I believe the feeling is universally and multiplicably applicable.
Then what and who supposed to be in the first birthday party? Invite everyone we know and close to us such as parents, siblings, friends, and colleagues. Because unconciously they all have a way of support. Our family is always there for support and help, our friends offer suggestions and ideas, our colleagues is ever asking how is our baby’s doing and if they also have children, we even share best practices and ups and downs. So it seems fitting and proper to invite them into our baby’s first birthday party.
Do we need a fun and merry birthday party theme complete with clowns and others? If our guests include older children, of course they will appreciate a active and exciting entertainment. If our guests bring along their babies who are in the same age with our birthday baby or slightly older (1-3 year old) then it is better to provide a specific game and toys spot for them to play on. Also put some interesting decorations such as balloons which they can play with. We need to provide entertainment suitable with our guests.
So what is it then for the birthday boy/girl? Since they are still very small and innocent, small chance that he or she would gather the understanding and remember all that has happened. So do not put too much focus to include her on every activity (they probably will need nap or feed times in between, anyway). It is best to prepare a memento for our baby so they can enjoy or read it at later stage of life when they can properly understand and appreciate things. Here are some ideas to try:
- Video message. Record the video by ourself or hire a professional so it can be edited. Make sure all guests mentioned their name and how they become acquainted with us (family, friend of mother/father, colleagues of mother/father, next door neighboor, etc)
- Scrapbooking with the help of all guests. We need to prepare papers and crafting materials such as pens, colored markers, stickers, glue. Then we ask each guest to write or make something in a piece of paper and use all available materials. When they all done, put it together into a scrapbook or clipping folder.
- Wall of fame. Set a wall or part of the wall in our baby’s bedroom and plastered it with plain wallpaper and let the guests write motivating messages for our baby and then put their signature at the end of their own message.
- Plant the tree of life. Together with all our guests, we plant a seed of a long lasting tree which can grow in years and years ahead. After the seed succesfully planted, write all the guests names along with the tree name (we can name it with our baby’s name) in a plate and put the plate in front of the tree. Afterwards, we can water the tree together with our baby and see both the tree and the baby grow.
- Time capsule. Ask all guests to bring all stuff they want our baby to remember them with, and put it into a box and keep it closed until our baby’s 18 birthday and then give it to them.
So many other ideas we can have and the above list is only small parts of it. We can also mix one and another idea together. For my first child’s first birthday, I mix the scrapbook and time capsule idea. All of the things the guests made will be given to my daughter when she turned 18. Incidentally, by the time my daughter’s first birthday and still now, we live far away from our homeland. We currently live in The Netherlands and my daughter was born here, too. We don’t know whether in the future we will still be living here or not. I imagined one day my daughter read and see her time capsule/scrapbook and try to find each and everyone who has left her a message. We as parents, probably do not even know where they live or talk to the guests anymore, since we live so far apart.