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Cake Smashes (and alternatives)

(image by Simply Sweet Snapshots)

Your child's first birthday is a big deal. Not only for you, but for them. They have grown and changed so much over the past year and are starting to act like an actual person. This means they have their own likes, dislikes, attitudes and opinions. A cake smash first birthday photo session is a popular and wonderful way to celebrate this special occasion. In this post I am going to cover two things. First, how to prepare for your child's cake smash session and second, alternate options to do instead of a cake smash for those who have children with allergies or just want something different.

How to Prepare for a Cake Smash Photo Shoot:

1. First things first, book the appointment! These sessions involve a lot of cleaning. This means that they may run a little longer or the studio may need more time to fully prepare for the next session. The earlier you can book the appointment, the better!

2. Pick an easy to clean outfit or one that you do not care about. Some people buy special outfits for their child's first birthday. We would love to photograph this outfit before the cake comes out. But, keep in mind that a lot of icing and cake decorations have a tendency to stain. Since they will outgrow it soon, this may not be a big deal but if you are planning on them wearing it again, like at their first birthday party if it has not occurred yet, then this may be something to keep in mind. Most of the time we recommend putting them in just a diaper (with a cute diaper cover over it) and possibly a pair of leggings or a cheap/homemade tutu (we can tell you how to make one if you do not know. It is very easy). Plus, it is easier to clean a dirty baby than it is to try and remove a cake covered onsie (and yes, we have a bathroom with sink on site for easy cleaning)

3. Start introducing your child to sweets. While they should really not be having it at this age, or at least a lot of it, any new food needs an adjustment period. If your child has never tasted cake or icing before, they may actually have no interest in it. We have seen it happen more than a few times. This is not every child, but we have learned that the ones who have an idea what a cake actually is are a lot more excited to dive right in.

4. Pick a soft cake. Fondant cakes can be very cute and pretty, but they do not work for a cake smash. Your child's tiny hands will have a hard time getting through the outer layer and they may just give up rather than continue (or get upset/frustrated and start to cry). One that they can get into easily will be more fun for them and better for photographs.

5. Bring backup. One year old's move fast. Whether they are crawling, walking or running, they can get across a small studio setup quite quickly. Having someone to stay with the child and one behind the photographer (in case they are going through a stranger stage) will be a huge time and energy saver. This person can be dad, grandma, aunt, uncle, or sibling. It will also be helpful while cleaning and viewing photos as well. And make sure everyone who comes has a change of clothes as well. It is usually not needed, but a good thing to have just in case.

6. Finally, have no expectations. A lot of parents think their child will love making a mess, but a lot of one year old's we meet hate having cake all over them. It is sticky and usually cold because cakes need to be kept refrigerated. Some are unsure if they are actually allowed to make a mess or what exactly is expected of them. You would be surprised how many cakes are smashed more by parents, siblings and photographers than the actual kid. Still, the end result is fun, colorful and memorable.

Cake Smash Alternatives

1. Picking something smaller and easier to make at home. While yes, cakes are not difficult to make, they can be very time consuming, especially when it comes to the decorating part. Also, finding gluten free, nut free, dairy free, etc. cake recipes are harder to find then things like cupcakes, donuts, cookies, muffins and whip cream, pudding or whatever your child's favorite snack may be. We are always excited to make a fun theme for our shoots and whatever the situation may be, we are ready to make it fun and exciting. Who wouldn't love an animal cracker themed first birthday shoot??

2. Paint. Want a real mess with a lot of colors but sweets is not an option? Or, maybe you are really artsy and want something that represents your family more? Paint can be a fun alternative to a cake smash with exciting results. You can even use the paint to write something personal right on the backdrop like their name, the number one, or "Happy Birthday". We use all white disposable paper backdrops for these shoots, which makes the colors pop and also helps with cleanup.

3. Fruit. With so many bright color options, this snack time favorite can be just as much fun and messy as a cake smash. Watermelon is a popular one, but things like strawberries and blueberries can leave color behind similar to icing. You can even include whip cream if this is something your child can have. The ideas are endless with this option from sets, to colors, to fun...

4. Jello. While gelatin allergies can exist, it is less common than a lot of other food allergies. With few ingredients to worry about, it is a possible alternative. Easy to make and prepare and available in a lot of colors, this jiggly snack can be a lot of put to play with and make a mess with. Also, imagine all the fun shapes you can through into the mix like dinosaurs, flowers or anything else your child is into.

5. The options are endless. We could probably go on listing things forever, but we feel we have made our point. Just because your child has a food allergy, or is being raised vegan, or you are just looking for something different and unique doesn't mean they won't have amazing first birthday photos. From cereal to Lego's. from spaghetti to confetti, there is nothing we can't work with and have fun with. Check in with your creative side and see what inspires you and we will take care of the rest!!

(image by Julia Marie Photography)

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