Parties, Photography

15 Alternatives to the First Birthday Cake Smash

The first birthday cake smash has become something of a rite of passage, but it’s also a hit or miss operation. The dye in the frosting can be hard to remove from tiny hands, expensive cakes are a bit of a waste if they’re just going to be photography props, and the risk of unexpected food allergies definitely makes this mom nervous! Here are some alternative ideas if you’re rethinking that cake:

15 Alternatives to the First Birthday Cake Smash

1 /// Banana cream pie. We did one this year for Calvin and it was a definite hit! (More photos to come…)

2 /// A small stacked shortcake with peaches and fresh cream would be a sweet take on the traditional cake smash…and probably a little easier to clean up!

3 /// Pancakes loaded with maple syrup or whipped cream would be fun for a breakfast celebration.

4 /// Leave cake behind and go straight for a drippy ice cream cone or a loaded banana split. (No nuts!)

5 /// Dice Jello, put a bunch of cubes into a clear bowl, and top with whipped topping. The photos will be colorful but be warned that this one is likely to leave stains!

6 /// If you have an Autumn birthday, dish out a fat slice of pumpkin pie.

7 /// For a birthday around the Winter holidays, try letting them break down a gingerbread house (loosely glued with frosting and free from any small candies, of course!).

8 /// Spring babies deserve great big hollow chocolate bunnies. Just don’t let them eat the whole thing! Calvin ate most of his sister’s last Easter (oops!) and he was pretty out of control for hours.

9 /// Summer baby? Great big cotton candy or a fat slice of watermelon!!

10 /// Veering away from food, you can give your baby some fingerpaints and a big blank canvas to see what he comes up with.

11 /// Setting up a bubble machine nearby makes for cute pictures (especially because baby is entertained enough to hold still!).

12 /// Have someone stand by to toss confetti while you take photos (same effect on the baby that the bubbles have but you’ll have more to clean up AND you have to watch for fistfuls of confetti going into the mouth).

13 /// Fill a small wading pool with balls to create a ball pit at home.

14 /// Go outside and let that kid get good and muddy.

15 /// Don’t want to overthink it? Grab a tub of Cool Whip. Done. The kid will be thrilled.

1st birthday banana cream pie


PS – Be sure that your child has been exposed to these foods before you spring them at the party! Nuts, berries, milk, eggs, wheat…be aware of any unexpected reactions!

PPS – Calvin’s birthday onesie via Petite Lemon.

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  • Reply Sarah

    Definitely thinking of a fresh strawberry and whipped cream pie for my daughter’s first – thanks for the idea!

    But I must disagree with pancakes and syrup. So much residual stickiness and your kid will smell like syrup for the rest if the day despite three baths and a bottle of baby wash. You couldn’t pay me to do that!

    July 24, 2014 at 9:47 am
  • Reply Hope at Disneyland

    Whenever I see these cake smashing type of pics, I always think “Why wasn’t I called to help eat the left overs?”

    July 24, 2014 at 4:28 pm
  • Reply Taylor Bowers

    This is wonderful! I haven’t felt ready to give my little one that much sugar, and I love these ideas! Thank you!

    January 18, 2016 at 12:43 pm
  • Reply Anonymous

    Was hoping for a healthy alternative to cake or pie, not ready to give my almost 1 yrs old sugar filled food yet 🙁 but i like the bubble machine idea, gonna do that for sure! thx

    September 3, 2016 at 7:50 pm
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