Thinking of having a Cake Smash for your baby’s first birthday? Here’s what you need to know

Take one baby, add a beautiful outfit, a party hat and a delicious cake - what could go wrong?

If you hate mess and this sounds like your idea of hell I have good news - the mess is all at my place. Chapter One Photography has been doing cake smash sessions for babies for over a decade. We know what works, what to avoid and how to make the event a whole lot of fun. Though believe me there may be tears but hopefully only a few and hopefully not yours.

A cake smash is a unique, fun and memorable way to celebrate your family milestone which i.e. surviving the first year.

We mark it and document it together celebrating the beautiful, funny, incredible baby you have made. We capture the personality, the smiles, the cheekiness of your little one at this special time.

When to do the photoshoot?

We suggest doing the shoot around 11-13 months. Many people do it a few weeks before the big day so that they can use the images for the invitations or for party decorations. Others choose to do the shoot on the day or the week of the birthday as the celebratory event.

Around this age as well babies have learned to be a little bit cheeky and instead of coyly just sitting in front of a beautiful cake they are usually eager to explore and dig their hands in. Also, as everything goes straight to the mouth at this age, they will be thrilled and excited to taste the delicious creation. Though beware they won’t necessarily be as keen on eating the cake or the icing.... But something to smear on the floor? That’s a much better idea to them!

Worried about sugar overload?

We have done hundreds of these sessions at Chapter One Photography and only a few the babies hoe into the cake and eat more than a spoonful or two. Many put in total about a teaspoon of icing in their mouths and some won’t even try the actual cake. We also generally suggest a naked cake or white/very lightly coloured icing so they are exposed to as few preservatives as possible.

Themes and colours

The spectrum is wide for how elaborate or simple you can make a cake smash.

We like the number one focus to be on the baby and on their gorgeous face. That being said though we have done many a crowded set up and they can look cute as well.

We advise our clients to choose something that is in keeping with the baby if they want a theme. For example an ‘In the Jungle’ set iif baby's favourite song is ‘The lion sleeps tonight’ (true story).

Or yellows if they resonate with ‘You are my sunshine’. Unicorns, cars and rainbows if they excite them.

You can also choose to do the session in colours that match the nursery so that wall art products can be proudly displayed in there (we have a lovely range of storyboards with 3-12 images from the session that can be ordered.

Most clients just settle on a couple of colours and we decorate the set in those colours with banners, balloons and decorations to match.

Some of our recommended colour combinations are:

Pink, white, gold


Dark blue/light blue










What to wear?

By far the best option is to choose an outfit that the baby is comfortable wearing. If your heart is set on a fluffy dress then do test it out prior to arriving at a photography studio. Check it fits comfortably and isn’t too tight or falling off the shoulders. There is enough to do in a cake smash session without having to adjust an outfit that doesn’t fit and it can take away from capturing a natural and beautiful moment.

We've seen many a baby get angry and moody because they don't like the feel or fabric of an outfit, specifically itchy, rough material (often the stiff net used in flouncy girls dresses). Or where there have been too many fussy parts - waistcoats, braces etc can be bothersome and a three piece suit may not be overly comfortable for a baby to sit in.

Chapter One Photography has a range of perfect outfits for babies to use in their sessions, rompers, nappy covers, and tutus for the girls are what we mainly recommend. Ours fit properly, coordinate with the decorations and are easy to get babies into and remove off them (particularly relevant when trying to remove from a baby covered in sticky icing!)

For boys

Simple is great - dungarees, shorts and tee shirt, or just shorts all showcase his gorgeous skin, themed with a bow tie and a party hat. It's a cute look.

Words written on tiny tee shirts will likely not be readable, if you must have words try something very simple like ‘One’ or the number 1.

Icing often has a lot of fat in it so be advised that outfits could get stained.

Above all make sure that you choose something that complements the colours you have specified, and avoid neon and busy patterns.

For girls

There are so many beautiful outfits for baby girls that it can be overwhelming to choose!

Simple is great -a frilly romper, or just a tutu with beads will showcase her gorgeous skin, we have a few top options if you want her somewhat covered. We also have crowns, party hats, headbands and necklaces to add to the cute look.

Words written on tee shirts will likely not be readable, if you must have words try something very simple like ‘One’ or the number 1.

Icing often has a lot of fat in it so beware his outfit could get stained.

Choose something that complements the colours you have specified and avoid neon and busy patterns.

What kind of cake to choose

Our first piece of advice is not to spend a fortune on a cake. No one can guarantee the baby will even touch it and it’s main purpose is to be destroyed!

Round cakes have a better aesthetic, giant cupcakes are also good. We have a recommended list of bakeries that we suggest (and who offer a discount to our clients). We also can supply ideas on how to easily make your own cake and ice it to perfection (very easily!). For our clients we have a giant cupcake silicone mould that can be borrowed.

You need to purchase a decent sized cake, not just a cupcake. About 6-8” works well, and can fit on a fancy stand so it is closer for the baby to dig into.

Light coloured icing and naked cakes are also best and aesthetically very pleasing.

The best flavour for the cake is vanilla or banana - they have a gentle flavour and are also a light colour.

A chocolate cake is definitely not advised - just imagine what it looks like smeared all over the baby and the floor? Yep, not the look we are after! Red velvet cake or any other red cake is also advised against as that can look a bit gruesome. I’m also not a fan of matcha cake, the colour is a bit dull and not very photogenic .

We only leave cake toppers on as a decoration for the first few photos. Babies generally want to pull them out and suck on them and they are generally not made for that purpose! It is important to ensure that any topper is safe and does not have sharp parts.

The cake needs to be iced with icing, not fondant or cream. Babies can’t get a grip on the fondant and it can get stuck in their throats. No hard decorations either or anything that presents a choking hazard.

We also recommend not bringing the cake straight from the fridge as it will be too cold to touch (especially in a Sydney winter). Just leave it out for half an hour before coming so the icing is soft.

Obviously if fresh cream is being used (not recommended) you need to wary of leaving it out of the fridge due to health issues.


Many cakes contain gluten, dairy, nuts amongst other ingredients- always check your baby is not allergic to any such ingredient before exposing them to a bought cake.

I have a lovely dairy free cake recipe that I can share. For babies who are very allergic I also have a fruit based ‘cake’ that works perfectly for even the fussiest little eater.

We have a whole lot of laughs at every cake smash. It really is a reflection of the baby's personality! Whatever their mood we will capture beautiful memories of this special time in all your you never forget!

Is your baby older than one? We have a range of themed sessions similar to the cake smash that work for 2, 3 and 4 year olds. Contact us for more information (be sure to include your baby's birthday), we will have the perfect thing for your little one!