Oh my goodness, you have a one year old! Out of all of the amazing things that we get to watch our infants learn how to do throughout that first year, my favorite definitely has to be the smiling, giggling, and playful personality that shines through as they transition into a toddler. Of course you want to capture the memory of your baby’s first birthday and what better way to do that than with a cake smash? Although some of my clients opt for a more traditional photoshoot for their one-year session, having a cake smash shoot for your toddler is a great way to showcase that budding personality while creating fun and exciting memories that you can hold onto forever. Now, if you do decide to have a cake smash, here are some tips on how to make it go as smoothly, and successfully, as possible.
Props and Decor
I love a simple cake smash with a modest cake, cake plate, cake topper and maybe some round sprinkles for the cake and floor but I also want you to make this session your own, so feel free to bring any decorations you like! Some clients have brought banners, balloons, props, crowns, and other decor specific to their family or culture. Because each shoot is unique and specific to the birthday baby, the client is responsible for most of the decor; however, here at the studio, clients have an option to use any of the many props provided such as decorative cake plates, mini chairs, O-N-E letters, and a beautiful wooden highchair, graciously loaned to me by the William Root House Museum & Garden. If you do want extra decor, think about what is special to you and your family, ensuring that your toddler’s one year photos are personal and meaningful. The studio’s double arched windows offer excellent natural lighting and my variety of brown, grey, or tan wooden backdrops, or solid colored-paper backdrops, ensure that whatever decor you bring, we will be able to match the background perfectly to create nice, artful photos. Cake smashes and other one year photoshoots can also work great in outdoor settings during nice weather. Fortunately, we are able to pack up the props and go shoot at many different, beautiful outdoor locations around the West Cobb area, such as Green Meadows Nature Preserve or West Cobb Avenues.
Bringing the Right Cake
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the many cake smashes I’ve been blessed to do, it’s that babies do not like cold hands! If your smash cake was refrigerated, make sure it has had plenty of time to come to room temp by the time it’s time for your little one to dig in. Room temperature cake is not only easier and more fun to play with, but it’s also messier, which is the whole point! That being said, it is also important to remember that icing stains. It’s usually a good idea to stay away from dark, highly pigmented icing if you are worried about staining baby’s outfit. Other than that, we let them get as messy as they want! To ensure you get to take home a clean baby, I always suggest adding a bubble bath session to the end of your shoot, which I will discuss more about later in this post.
Pro Tip: Give your baby a taste of something sweet a few days before their session to acclimate them to the taste of all that sugar. There have been photo shoots of babies who gag and tear up after trying their cake for the first time because the icing is so sweet!
Bringing a few extra outfits for your little one is a good idea, not only to ensure you have a clean one to bring them home in, but also because they may destroy that perfect birthday outfit before the session even begins! You may also want to consider bringing them a “back-up” outfit if you are planning a certain look for photos, just in case the first decor/backdrop/outfit combo doesn’t exactly match the image in your head. Many different combinations of styles can work really well together, but it’s always nice to have options. During this one hour session, you are allotted two outfit changes, usually one is done for portraits and another for the messy, eating cake part. It’s also important to remember to bring an extra outfit for yourself, or arrive in something that can get messy, such as an old t-shirt and pants that you don’t mind getting icing…ALL OVER. Many times, parents end up messier than baby! Remember: icing stains, people!
Find picking an outfit is too stressful? Don’t worry! I have a client closet with one year outfits to pick from for both boys and girls. I’m sure to have something that fits your style and color scheme.
Extras To Bring
It’s usually a good idea to bring extra snacks and drinks to your children’s photo sessions, especially a cake smash. Cake can make your little one very thirsty, so extra drinks should be on standby. Snacks also might come in handy if your toddler ends up not liking their cake; we can stick snacks into the back of it (out of sight) to entice baby to get their hands dirty! Other must-haves for a cake smash are lots of baby wipes, saline wipes (if baby is fighting a cold, these work fast to get the crusted on goo off), and your child’s favorite toy or special “lovie,” as my little ones call it. I also like to tell clients to bring a decorative spoon in case baby doesn’t want to get their hands dirty when it’s time to eat.
Other “Cake” Options
Although smashing cake makes for great photos, if you would rather your toddler “smash” something other than cake, these sessions are completely customizable and tailored to you, so feel free to do something else unique and fun. Some other options I have done for clients before are watermelon, tacos, and even spaghetti! For this original and personalized “spaghetti smash,” my client brought fresh vegetable decorations, wooden kitchen utensils, and baby wore a mustache, turning his first spaghetti encounter into an exciting, documented experience.
Although cleaning up usually means all of the fun is over, clients are highly encouraged to supplement the one year photo session with an added bubble bath shoot at the end of their cake smash. During this session, baby takes a delightful, fun, and safe dip in an antique mini bathtub, surrounded by bubbles. Bubble bath shoots are one of my favorites to do because many times toddlers get super-duper excited and you can visually see them having the best time splashing around and playing with bubbles, resulting in some of the most adorable candids! If your one year old hasn’t yet gotten the taste for cake, this part is usually the most fun for them and can result in the best pictures of their whole one year session. Regardless of whether you opt for the bubble bath or not, make sure to bring at least two towels, lots of baby wipes, and a change of clothes for both you and your toddler.
Psst! Don’t forget, you can also add a family session to your cake smash/one year session for an extra charge! Family photos will be taken before, and siblings can even be added to the cake smash if desired.