Planning Your Baby's Cake Smash Session | Tips & Inspiration

Crystal Lee 


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Tips & Inspiration For Planning Your Baby’s Cake Smash Session

Jan 11, 2021

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 cake smash session typically looks like this:
– 1 outfit for “clean” portraits
– Cake smash on your custom set
– Matching bath splash!

What to bring to your session

We can style your smash set to match baby’s birthday party theme or you can choose any color scheme/theme you’d like! The further in advance you schedule your session, the more time we have to plan.

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.

  • The background and white floor
  • Helium balloons to match your color scheme
  • A cake stand
  • Small pieces of decor like florals, starfish, and decorative boxes to dress up the set
  • A selection of optional outfits from my growing client closet

What You Provide:

  • The cake
  • Baby’s outfit and headpiece
  • Any personalized decor
  • Puffs or other small treats that baby likes
  • A water cup

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 baby is 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. And that’s all I’ll say about that, 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.
  • This is going to be messy. Really messy. So be sure to bring an extra outfit for baby and possibly 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.

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, alot 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 a donut smash, strawberry smash and a watermelon smash myself, but I’ve seen some other really adorable ideas involving tacos and pasta.

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.

number of comments:

  1. Crystal says:

    Hi, Brittany! I just responded to your email with pricing and my next availability. While I don’t offer family portrait sessions I would love to talk with you more about doing a birthday session for your little one! 🙂

  2. Brittany Sturgill says:

    Hi! I’m interested in getting some pictures of my one year old and three year old. Maybe a family one too. Next week sometime ? What are the prices ?


My studio is typically one of the very first places that parents bring their newborn. I fully understand the gravity of that decision and I want you to know that you’re bringing your little one to a safe space that has been designed (and cleaned!) with you in mind. I am fully stocked with a variety of backdrops, swaddles, props and decor to help personalize your baby’s first portrait session. 

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