9 Smash Cake Ideas for Baby's First Birthday

A birthday celebration for a one-year old just isn’t complete without what’s called a smash cake. If the smash cake phenomena is new to you, let us here at Pottery Barn Kids explain it and help you plan for it with our tips and ideas on making it a success. It’ll be the most fun mess you’ve ever seen!

Cake Ideas

What Is It?

A smash cake is a small cake baked just for your baby to eat, play with, dig in, throw in the air, smear and pose with while wearing a sweet outfit or costume. It’s meant for memorable photo opportunities and without lit birthday candles. A smash cake isn’t merely a one-year-old’s birthday cake. It’s an event that typically revolves around a theme. Types of smash cakes, and the coordinating cakes or cupcakes reserved for party guests, are limitless. Here are some adorable favorites to get your creative ideas flowing for your baby’s first birthday cake.

Holiday and Seasonal Themes

Babies born on a particular holiday have it made when it comes to smash cake ideas. Born on July 4? A red, white and blue-themed Independence Day party, including a tri-colored smash cake topped with mini-flags, makes for patriotic photos. Dress your baby in holiday colors with matching props. Let the cake smashing begin as the cameras start flashing.

Seasonal birthdays offer a much broader theme. Spring- and summer-born babies will love digging their hands into a smash cake piled with frosting flowers. You can take photographs of them alongside rose or wildflower bouquets and petals strewn around the floor. Summer babies can enjoy outdoor smash cake photos dressed in beachwear, ready to eat a sugar seashell-decorated cake. Winter babies sitting on a faux fur rug can smash down a snowy white cake decorated with snowflakes or one in the shape of a small snowman.

Pull out all the holiday lights and cheer when it comes to December babies. Go with holiday colors for smash cakes, holiday-themed pajamas and outfits plus decked-out backgrounds. A miniature square cake with a red-and-green or blue-and-silver fondant bow makes your baby’s smash cake look like a present. For guests, consider a large sheet cake or individual cupcakes with the same design.

Toy Themes

Your toddler may have a favorite toy or respond to a favorite sport or musical instrument. Let that inspire a smash cake theme. Does your baby love dinosaurs, fairies, castles, drums, unicorns, basketballs or any other toy from the vast universe of baby playthings? Let that become the focus of the smash cake theme. Your baby will have loads of fun playing during a photo shoot and party.

Place toy dinosaurs on top of a smash cake. Or, bake the cake in the shape of a tiny dino. For photos, why not find a dinosaur costume? Do you have a little drummer boy or girl? Decorate a smash cake as a drum, get a toy drum set for a backdrop and watch the "music" begin. For sports- and outdoor-themed smash cakes, there are no boundaries for ideas and props, even if it means using all sorts of sports balls.

Animal and Bug Themes

The sky‘s the limit when it comes to animal- or bug-themed smash cake parties. Your baby may have a fascination with dogs, cats, bunnies, jungle animals, butterflies, ladybugs or even bees. Whatever your baby’s favorite living creature is, go with it for a fun, adorable theme. If you have a pet you think could handle a photo op, get it in on the fun – only if the cake is anything other than chocolate. Otherwise, stuff the photo backdrop with your baby’s finest plush toys.

Travel Themes

Was your baby born in a special place? Celebrate with a smash cake that reflects the occasion. Hang a wall decal of an icon from the destination, along with props for the photo shoot. Top a smash cake with an unlit candle or edible treat in the shape of a flag or landmark. For example, a Parisian-inspired smash cake with an Eiffel Tower topper is elegant, especially when you treat adults guests to champagne and petit fours. If you’re more the rugged type of parents who prefer camping under the stars, grab a tepee for a photo prop. Accent a smash cake with candy pine-cones while dressing your sweetie in flannel for the full effect.

Transportation Themes

Birthday boys or girls who have an early love of trains, planes or automobiles have some fun cake ideas available. Create a smash cake that looks like a race track with cars. For guests, serve a sheet cake or individual cupcakes topped by candy cars. When the photos begin, your baby will love playing with the cars before smashing through the top to get to the cake. Dress up your baby in whatever uniform coincides with the vehicle, like a race car driver or firefighter.