This post will teach you how to make a personalized picture book for your baby. It isn’t sponsored, and I didn’t receive anything for free from any of the brands mentioned. I have included affiliate links, though. You can read more about that here. Thanks!
How to make a personalized picture book for your baby
Today I’m sharing a project that’s a bit different: a book I made for Ramona! I got the idea for the book from my mother-in-law, who worked in early childhood education before retiring. The style of the book is inspired by Tana Hoban’s black and white no-text board books for babies. My mom got these for Ramona when she was first born, and it was one of her first books.
I liked the idea of keeping it simple because, well, that’s my style. I’m also not a graphic designer, so I didn’t want to do anything that would give that away too quickly. 🙂
The book is called “Ramona’s Little Book of Things” because it includes all of her favorite things in her little life. I designed it so that Ramona could have a book of all of the people who love her, even the ones who live far away that she doesn’t get to see very often. I also included spots for her pets, favorite places, and more.
If you’re interested in how to make a personalized picture book for your baby, I’m going to walk you through how I did it.
Here’s what I needed:
And here’s how I made Ramona’s Little Book of Things.
Step 1: Decide on your book size.
Step 2: Create a Canva template.
Next I went to Canva, a free and easy-to-use web-based graphic design program, to design my pages. I knew my book would be 8″ x 8″, so I created a custom template that was 8″ x 8″. I also added a border that I knew would be on every page. To add the border, I went to Elements > Shapes > and selected the shape highlighted below.
Step 3: Set up structure.
I set up my “chapter themes” and chose graphics for each chapter page, as well as the cover. My chapter themes were people I love, pets I like to pet, cars that take me fun places, houses where I like to play, and fun things I like to do.
Then I added titles to these chapter pages using the text feature. There are a lot of pre-formatted styles and sizes you can choose from, or you can design your own by experimenting.
Step 4: Add graphics.
I found a graphic to use for each of the title pages. Here’s where to find graphics. When you click the Elements tab, it defaults to all. You can click over to graphics and search by term.
I wanted a simple, minimal look, so I went with solid black. But not all of the clip art was black at first. You can change the colors on some of the clip art pieces Canva offers. You could do all pink—whatever you want. Here’s an example showing that.
Here are some examples of what I settled on for the cover and a few of the chapter pages.
Step 5: Fill out the rest of the book
Next I decided who would get a spot in the book and gave each of them a page. For simplicity’s sake, I combined some couples. I also added pages for pets, houses, cars, favorite things, etc.
Canva has a copy function that you can use to replicate templates. I used that to generate more pages to ensure everything lined up with one another, especially the border I added.
If you have a longer name or set of names for a page, make sure it doesn’t take up so much space that it pushes the photo sleeve down into the border or off the page. You can make the text smaller.
Step 6: Export from Canva
Once I was happy with the design, I exported it.
This is where I hit a snag. Snapfish wouldn’t let me upload the .png exported files, and the .jpg files were too low in quality. I decided to export each page as a print-quality PDF (very large) and then screen capture that and save it as a higher quality .jpg to upload to Snapfish.
This isn’t a perfect solution, but I’m just making one book for a baby, so it worked fine. It just took me about 15 extra minutes. 🙂
Step 7: Upload to Snapfish and organize.
I uploaded all of the images to Snapfish and inserted them one-by-one into the book template, making sure everything lined up as best I could. I selected a matte finish for the hard cover, which was a few extra bucks, and submitted my order.
Snapfish has some nice built-in layout functionality like grids that pop up to show you what’s lined up with what, as well as a warning when you’ve got an object outside of printable space.
Note: The Honey browser extension is a lifesaver for websites like this. I clicked my little Honey icon to run through coupons, and it ended up taking 50% off of my total bill. Amazing! Highly recommend that browser extension!
Step 8: Order photos and adhesive sleeves.
While I nervously waited for my book to arrive, I ordered the 4×6 photo sleeves and prints to use for the book. (Note: I use mpix.com for most of my printing needs, especially larger photos that will be framed and displayed. But for this project, you can’t beat Snapfish’s price!)
When the book came, I was blown away by how great it looked. I immediately put the adhesive-backed sleeves in and inserted pictures—I couldn’t wait!
And I think Ramona likes it, too! Actually, and I swear this is true, a few days after I put the pictures in, I set it standing up on her nightstand next to her crib. I went in to get her up one morning and she was standing in her crib pointing at it. So cute 🙂
This last picture makes me really happy. Ziggy and Kingston are Ramona’s little cousins who are about a month old. They were born at about 32 weeks and are twins. She loves looking at this page and pointing at it. Right after we took this picture, she leaned in and put her face on the picture of the boys. How sweet 🙂
A couple of tips for you guys…
- Don’t do too many pages. Once you add in the sleeves and photos, it will make the book thicker. Mine kind of stands open a bit; I probably have too many pages at 32. I wouldn’t go above 26 in the 8″ x 8″ size if I printed this again (just a ballpark).
- Don’t do too much design. Unless you’re a real designer, then you don’t need my tips! I wanted to keep it simple and clean.
- Make sure you leave enough space under the title on each page for a 4×6 photo sleeve to fit comfortably.
- Get photo sleeves with adhesive already on the back and with one open side. That way the photos will stay securely in place, but you can switch them out if you’d like. You could even take the photos out and have your kid help put them back in by matching them up with the right page. If the sleeve rips, you’ll have backups.
- Be mindful of Snapfish’s warnings about where the print cutoff areas are. Err on the side of caution by making your images slightly smaller than the guidelines Snapfish gives.
- If you’ve never used Canva before, you’ll still probably be fine with my screenshots. If you’re not, just Google for some tutorials. There are loads out there.
- Download the Honey browser plugin and run it to check for Snapfish coupons at checkout.
- Pay the few extra bucks for the matte finish option. Looks like a million bucks and complements the black and white design nicely!