Cake Smash: The New Way to Celebrate Your Baby’s First Birthday

In your baby’s first year, she’ll get most of her nutrition from breast milk or formula. Beginning around 6 months, you can introduce new foods to explore. One especially memorable “first food” is the first bite of birthday cake. Have you considered a cake smash as part of your baby’s birthday celebration?

What Is a Cake Smash?

There are few things more adorable than a messy baby enjoying a new treat. Your baby’s likely to get more frosting on her face than in her mouth, so why not make the most of it?

A cake smash lets babies get messy on purpose, digging into a birthday cake with abandon, while a professional photographer captures the moment.

Depending on your area, you may find “cake smash sessions” priced at a few hundred dollars, or close to $1,000 for a full-blown party including setup and cleanup (as well as a bubble bath for baby).

Cake Smash Pros

Who would have thought there were so many benefits to a crumbled cake? Trends take hold for a reason. This is what some families are discovering when they choose a cake smash for baby’s birthday.

  1. It’s fun: At 1 year old, your baby wants to put everything in her mouth. Why not lean into her love of sensory play? The party is a celebration of your baby, so embracing age-appropriate messiness can be more relaxing than aiming for every-hair-in-place perfection.
  2. It’s creative: Many photographers offer various themes, so you can create your own style. You may not have the photography skills to bring your vision of a sugary romp to life, so working with a pro can create a memorable set of photos you’ll cherish when your little one is long past the baby stage.
  3. It’s a crowd-pleaser: It’s the epitome of having your cake and eating it, too. Your loved ones love your baby, and want to watch him enjoy himself. They’d like a slice of celebration cake, too, preferably without a tiny handprint smushing the frosting. A special, mini cake just to smash may be the answer to minimizing wastefulness and maximizing enjoyment for everyone at the party.

Cake Smash Cons

A frosting-fueled photo op isn’t everyone’s, well, slice of cake. Just because everyone in your play group seems to be jumping on the trend doesn’t mean you need to join in, too. Some downsides to a cake smash are:

  1. The cost: Anytime you book a professional photographer, you’re likely adding hundreds to your birthday bill.
  2. The mess: If you stage your own cake smash, you’re stuck with food coloring staining walls, carpet, or baby clothes, all for (hopefully) a few cute pictures.
  3. The sugar: The AAP recommends that parents avoid giving refined sugar to kids under 2 years of age. While that may not be a realistic goal for most families, it might feel like way too much of a good thing to give your baby free rein with a whole cake. What’s wrong with enjoying a single slice?

It’s fine if you prefer to take photos of a clean baby! If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to a cake smash, you’re in luck. There are plenty of creative options available, including yogurt with berries or carving a watermelon “cake.”

As with almost anything in parenting, you’ll find people with varying opinions about whether a cake smash is too cute, a sticky mess, or somewhere in between. Your baby’s first birthday is a time to celebrate the family you’ve become in the last year. If your motto is to embrace the beauty in everyday chaos, a cake smash may be a perfect way to represent this joyful phase of parenting.

Jessica Sillers
Jessica Sillers is a parenting and finance writer whose work has been featured in Pregnancy & Newborn, Headspace, and more. As a new mom herself, she’s passionate about helping other parents find the community and support they need. When she’s not writing, she loves spending time with her family, reading, and hiking.

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