Today’s Hint: Skip a Big 1st Birthday Smash Cake

My daughter had never had cake before her first birthday party. So I thought when she finally got to taste it, she’d smash a ton in her mouth and all over a face, trying to eat as much of the sugary treat as she could.

In preparation for the big smash, I bought two cakes for her birthday: one small eight-inch round “smash cake” for my daughter and another half sheet cake for the guests. (If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a smash cake, it’s basically a cake for a 12 month old to make a mess of while parents snap pictures, and having so-called “smash cakes” at first birthday parties has been a growing trend over the last decade).


My daughter’s 1st birthday cake post “smash.”

However, at my daughter’s party, the big smash I had envisioned never happened. After we sang “Happy Birthday,” my daughter daintily put her fingers across the top of her cake, took a few tastes, and then was done. Basically, I had wasted an entire cake.

That’s why today’s hint is that other parents planning for a first birthday don’t follow in my footsteps and waste time and money on making, or buying, a big cake just for their little one.

Instead of treating a first birthday cake like a wedding cake, I’d suggest opting for what I had originally planned to do before I got caught up in the smash cake trend: Just give your little one a slice of whatever cake you have for the party guests in general. Or if you really want to do an individual cake for your little one, make it a cupcake or a tiny cake (like this one from the blog HelloBee).

And while some babies will certainly be more into enjoying cake than my birthday girl was, my daughter’s reaction seems to line up with that of many other 12 month olds, as described by moms on One such mom wrote in a post entitled “Smash cake epic fail” that she feels “like a idiot because I spent 25 bucks on a cake he didn’t like at all!”

And here’s a similar thread with funny photos of smash cake failures. One mom even described having to help her son smash for a photo opp: Her son “didn’t want to smash his cake. He doesn’t really like sweets.  My sister and I had to take his hand and smash it in the cake so we could get some pictures. After him not wanting to smash I’m glad I stuck with the small one instead of going out and buying a bigger cake, lol!”

As Molly Thornberg of Digital Mom Blog put it in a “Smash Cake 101” piece on Not all babies get into it. Not all babies go after the cake. Our first child didn’t care about it. Our third hated his hands messy!”

I can’t say I wasn’t warned. My husband says other parents told him that “most babies are indifferent to the cake at their first birthday parties” and he had told me this during our party planning discussions. But somehow I got caught up planning for a big smash and I didn’t listen. I should have and next time around, I will.

What’s your take on smash cakes?

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  1. lisa smith parro says

    We didn’t do a smash cake, either; we just gave him a tiny cupcake. He loves sweets but doesn’t like to be very messy. I would also recommend either to keep 1st Birthday parties short or have them at home so your little one can nap. We hosted ours at our house and he was asleep for the first few hours! I’ve been to parties where it’s just too much stimulation for the birthday boy or girl when he/she isn’t able to get a nap and that’s just not fair to them.

  2. Vonnie says

    Very true about Smash Cake not being what we as parents expect it to be. We “staged” this with our 5th child. Making a cupcake and singing Happy Birthday….he just sat there. We had to smash his hands a couple times on the cupcake for him to start eating it. Made out for some cute pics…… :-)

  3. says

    I plan to do a tiny cake, but since he won’t have had anything sweet expect fruit at that point, it probably won’t be a traditional cake. I’m not sure what the base will be, but I’ll use plain greek yogurt or ricotta as the “frosting” so he doesn’t have sugar-overload. He loves eating with his hands, so I’m sure he’ll dig in.

    Another good less sweet option would be angel food cake frosted with whipped topping.

    • Hint Mama says

      Great suggestions for healthy cakes – keep me posted how the party goes and happy birthday to your little one!


  1. […] According to a poll of more than 5,000 parents, roughly 50% of parents polled spent $250 or more on a child’s first birthday gathering. But before you cancel that birthday event, consider that there are easy ways to cut the party bill, as I’ve covered in past hints, including opting for inexpensive party activities and skipping a smash cake. […]

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