First Birthday Cake Smash Photo Session Tips

Photo of a first birthday cake smash session with one year old wearing overalls

Your child’s first birthday is a huge milestone not just for your little one, but for you as a parent and your whole family.  It’s not just a celebration of survival through dozens of sleepless nights and countless diaper changes; it’s the end of a year filled with growth, learning, and unimaginable love.  There are many ways to celebrate this milestone but one of the best is a first birthday cake smashIt’s fun, it’s messy, and it will provide a bunch of adorable memories.

But how do you ensure this special event is picture-perfect?  We have put together some expert tips to help you plan the best first birthday cake smash for your baby!

Photo of a first birthday cake smash session with one year old wearing overalls


Choose the right cake 

For a perfect smash, get a plain vanilla sponge cake. This type of cake is especially soft and crumbles easily, so your one-year-old will have no problem tearing it apart. And think carefully about your frosting choice. A whipped cream frosting will make for the messiest photos. 

Go for a bright color that will show up well in photos, but avoid colors like red, which often looks too much like blood, and brown, which looks like…well, you know.

Cake smash photo of first birthday cake


Pick a cake smash outfit

You want your little one to look cute, but they’re going to get messy so don’t choose your favorite outfit to dress them up. A cake smash is a great chance to choose a colorful, fun outfit that they may not normally wear. Think neon tutus or a colorful onesie. Or you can even keep it simple with a diaper and a colorful bib.

One Year old wearing an suspenders and a hat and smiling


Determine the theme for your cake smash session

One of the most fun things about children’s birthday parties and cake smashes is choosing a theme! You can go with a color palette, like pastels, silver and gold, or a specific color. Or you choose a character, animal, or other theme. Check out Pinterest for theme ideas or even look at your child’s nursery or favorite toys to give you a little inspiration. When you do a cake smash session with a professional photography, they can help create a set that fits with your theme to get the perfect images.

Photo of one year old baby in Baseball themed first birthday cake smash

One year old Baby photographed with balloons and a cake during a first birthday cake smash photoshoot

Have a practice cake smash session

Chances are this is your child’s first time encountering a cake, and they may not know what to do. Some little ones shove their hands right in, while others are a little more uncertain. If you want your photos to go smoother, consider having a practice session with a small cake. Sit down with your child and play with the cake with them to show them just how fun it can be!

Race care themed birthday cake for first birthday photoshoot

The First Birthday Cake Smash Photoshoot 

Most importantly, Keep it Safe and Comfortable.  From the cake to the paint on the props, ensure everything your baby might touch (or taste) is non-toxic. Make sure the area is at a comfortable temperature, especially if your baby will be minimally clothed.

Pink western themed first birthday cake smash First Birthday Cake smash of a little girl with a pink cake taken in our Janesville area photography studio

Capture Every Moment of Your Cake Smash

If your budget allows, a professional photographer familiar with cake smash sessions can be invaluable. They’ll know exactly how to capture the magic. But  if you’re taking the photos yourself, keep your camera ready. Capture not just the cake smashing but also the moments of anticipation, the first touch, and the aftermath.

Little one year old girl' photographed on pink background by Janesville, Wisconsin photo studio,

The messy moments of a first birthday cake smash session with the cake demolished and the baby covered in cake and frosting

Clean-up Tips

Have a warm bath and towels ready. Some parents even choose to have the photo session near a bathtub for immediate cleanup.  Use a washable mat beneath the smash area, and keep wipes and paper towels within arm’s reach.


A one year old baby taking a bath in a metal tub during a photoshoot at Life in Pink Photography in Janesville, Wisconsin

Photo of a one year old sitting in a tub and getting a bath after his first birthday cake smash session

No matter what theme or colors you choose, your cake smash for your child’s first birthday can be an absolute blast!  Remember, the aim is not perfection but the joy of the moment. Let your baby explore, play, and, most importantly, enjoy their first taste of birthday cake.   They only turn one once, after all.  And these messy moments captured on camera will forever remind you that while they may no longer be babies, their smiles and chuckles are the essence of beautiful infant you first met.

So, slice into that cake and let the cameras roll—it’s time to make some memories.

Want to learn more about photographing your baby’s milestone sessions?   Check out the links below.