Once upon a time, a genius decided to take the words “cake” and “smash” and put them together… giving us this seriously adorable first birthday tradition! The cake smash is my absolute favorite way to end a milestone birthday session.
A full signature cake smash session includes:
• 1 outfit for “clean” portraits
• Cake smash on a custom-designed set
• Optional matching bath splash!
What to bring to your session
We can style the cake smash set to match your baby’s birthday party theme or you can choose any color scheme/theme you’d like. Booking 2-3 months in advance will give me time to plan your theme and order any necessary items for your set. Once you’ve booked, you will receive a detailed session guide and questionnaire so that I can start customizing your unique portrait session!
What I Provide:
My prop stash is always growing, and what I can provide will depend on the theme and color scheme that you have chosen for your session. But generally speaking, this is what I typically have on hand.
What You Provide:
Tips to help you plan your cake smash session
- Scheduling: If you’d like to use your portraits to display at baby’s birthday party I recommend having your session take place when your little one is 10 1/2-11 months old. This will give you time to make prints and order any products that you’d like to display.
- Bring snacks: Bring some puffs or small snacks that baby likes! This is a great little trick to help us get some great images even if baby isn’t interested in smashing… we just stick them right into the back of the cake! Also, have a sippy cup or bottle nearby in case baby gets thirsty or needs a break.
- Avoid getting a chocolate cake. It looks… gross. (insert poop emoji here, lol) I also suggest avoiding cakes with a lot of red icing.
- Cake prep: If you’re picking up your cake the day before your session please remember to take it out of the refrigerator a few hours in advance so that the icing can soften. A hard, cold cake is no fun to smash!
- Be prepared to participate! Some babies don’t quite get the hang of the smash right away so you may need to get your hands into the cake to help them get started.
- Leaving siblings at home if possible. Siblings, especially those under 4, don’t understand why they can’t have cake too. This session is a special occasion for your little one, so we want to make this day all about baby!
- This is going to be messy. Really messy. So be sure to bring an extra outfit for baby and possibly one for yourself!
- Clean up: I do have baby soaps and towels at the studio to help you clean baby after the cake smash, but if there is a particular soap that you prefer to use on your little one please feel free to bring that with you. Icing can be very greasy so soap is almost always a necessity!
Where to get a smash cake
Because there are so many different food allergies out there these days (dairy, wheat, sugar, etc) I always ask that my clients provide the cake. This gives you full control over what’s inside of the cake! I highly, highly recommend getting a smash cake from a professional bakery. Homemade cakes can be beautiful but they’re often very dry and the icing is hard. We want a simple cake with soft icing. A “naked cake” with white icing is always a great choice for any theme!
For size, a 6-inch cake with 2-3 tiers is ideal. If it is too big it won’t fit on a cake stand or between babys legs. Also, you’ll want to make sure that the cardboard base isn’t massively bigger than the cake itself. The base should be no more than an inch or so wider than the cake itself.
Again, don’t forget to let the cake sit out for a few hours prior to your session. A cold, hard cake will be difficult for baby to smash and won’t feel good on their little hands.
And remember… no chocolate cake or red icing! Also, fondant is beautiful but you’ll need to keep an extra close eye on baby during the smash because fondant is difficult to chew and could present a choking hazard. (This also goes for any decorative details on the cake, including things like toothpicks and wooden dowels.)
Some of my local favorites are:
The biggest tip I can give to any Mom planning a cake smash session is to relax. Little ones can sense stress and we want them to come into a happy, positive environment! It’s totally normal to go Pinterest-crazy and have a lot of grand ideas for your session but remember that baby is the one who is really running the show. Some one-year-olds really love digging in and getting covered in icing, and some just don’t like getting messy. If it’s their first time having something sweet like cake they may dislike the taste. It’s totally normal and every baby is different! Don’t get discouraged if we’re not getting the reaction you hoped for… we’re still going to get really beautiful images that capture this huge milestone and show your baby’s personality.
I like to use my own daughter’s images as an example… we did get the one portrait of her looking somewhat happy but for the most part, she absolutely hated her cake. And of course, in the moment it was frustrating because Moms put so much work into planning the perfect photoshoot for their little ones. But I look back now and it just makes me laugh. I’ll never forget her sweet little face, full of cake and drama!
Regardless of how your little one feels about the cake, pretty much every single smash ends like this, with an icing-covered baby crawling (or running) away!
Let’s splash after the smash!
It’s true, a lot of babies aren’t a fan of the cake. But, not to jinx anything, I am at about a 90% success rate with the bathtub. Getting greasy icing all in your toes may not be fun, but everyone loves to splash!
Remember how I said my daughter went total dark side with her cake? Well, check her out splashing in her little bathtub on Tatooine!
Is cake maybe not your thing?
No problem! You can bring your little one in to smash anything you’d like. I’ve done doughnut, strawberry, watermelon, and pasta smashes myself, but I’ve seen some other really adorable ideas!
Got something fun in mind? Reach out and let’s chat!
If you’d like to learn more or schedule a first birthday session for your little one please feel free to explore my site and reach out when you’re ready.
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Baby Tips & Inspiration, Cake Smash, Portraits