"It's like taking a nap on that little rug when you were in kindergarten."

Child’s First Birthday Cake – Make it a Smash Cake

It’s your baby’s first birthday. You buy a fantastic cake. Really well-decorated, tons of frosting – a pastry of perfection that anyone, except for a newly-turned-one year old would truly appreciate. One that looks something like this:

Birthday cake, child's first

I’m all for a really nice celebration, and great cake, for that special little youngster.

However, I’m still trying to figure out why parents let their child do this with that first cake:

Birthday cake, First, Child

Nope, I’m not a serial killer – just ate my first birthday cake!!

In some circles, these birthday cakes are known as “smash cakes.”


I’m just going to throw this out there and see if this makes sense to anyone. I’ll let you connect any dots that may come to mind.

Is it possible that this event, so early in life, teaches them the following?:

A) Child has an extremely tempting item placed in front of them – the cake, with colorful frosting.

B) There are all kinds of friends and family around taking hundreds of pictures.

C) Child makes a complete mess, over-indulging in the cake.

D) Pictures are posted on facebook.


Now fast-forward 15-17 years:

A) Teenager has extremely tempting item placed in front of them – alcohol.

B) There are all kinds of friends (and sometimes, family members) around taking pictures.

C) Kid gets messed up, over-indulging in alcohol.

D) Pictures are posted on facebook.


Moral of the story: Don’t let your child eat a “smash cake” on their first birthday!!


Did you eat a “smash cake” as a child, and/or give one to your child?


  1. Oh- I am guilty. My daughter’s was a pink explosion. Turns out she was also very sick to start- The photo op was short-lived. We ended up in the ER that night until the wee hours of the morning with a double-ear infection. Poor thing.

  2. Haha! Interesting comparison. I have to admit I don’t think it’s cause an effect but it’s an awesome idea.
    I am happy to say my mother never let me do that, she’s too much of a clean freak haha 😛

  3. Andra Watkins says:

    I was appalled the first time I saw smash cake. My nephew did it.

    When I acted appalled, I was led to believe a was a horrible witch.

    Thank you for relieving me of a decade of guilt…….

  4. Vladimir says:

    I believe it is a nice tradition. I do not have a child yet, but if/when I do – I think it will be just like on the picture.

  5. Jennifer says:

    That is one gorgeous cake! with three kids of my own, I understand the need, by wonder why people go to such extremes when the birthday child has NO IDEA about all the fuss. And I’m one of those clean freak mums who wouldn’t let her child demolish the cake. Sure they looked like the pciture afterwards but not from cake smashing… :)

    • You’re right, Jennifer, they don’t have any idea, do they? It’s hard for a one-year old not to get messy, even when you’re trying to keep them clean.

  6. I didn’t let my kids demolish the whole cake, but their piece, you bet. With my son, that was how he ate everything. Spaghetti, bananas, ice cream, cereal, all over his face, up his nose, on the floor. 18th birthday pending in June. We’ll see… :)

  7. What a connection! That’s what makes you, you! To point this out!

  8. I never saw this phenomenon until my nephew did it on his first birthday. I don’t have kids, and I try to keep my opinions about what other people do with them to myself.


    I remember being little, and my mom telling embarrassing stories about me to her friends and laughing at my expense right in front of me. That’s sort of how I felt for my nephew that day.

    • Yes, it’s a very interesting ritual. I don’t remember seeing this with my relatives as a child, and there were a LOT of us. I have 33 nieces and nephews and I don’t remember much about that happening for them, either. Interesting.

  9. Leanne Shirtliffe (Ironic Mom) says:

    I didn’t really celebrate my kids’ first birthday because we were packing up our lives in Thailand, getting ready for an international move. My neighbour and friend, however, made a cake. But we just gave my twins a small piece each. Yup, we’re boring!

  10. I’ll admit to a few things in this comment:

    1. I succumbed to peer pressure and bought the personal-sized cake so my son (my first born) could destroy it at will.
    2. I am a neat freak, so when I ordered the cake, I asked for it to be white with white frosting.
    3. My son ended up being very afraid of the cake. Seriously. Turns out, when a baby is not introduced to sugar until that day, then a cake is set before him to explore and demolish, it doesn’t always work out. He was very suspicious of the whole thing.
    4. I ended up giving him a piece of cornbread, candle and all. He loved it and ate it very daintily.
    5. I decided to forgo the cake for my younger child. We just went with the cornbread. She loved it.

    • Hmm, you a neat freak? Shocked! Never thought you, of all people would have control issues. *insert mild sarcasm*

      Yeah, I don’t know how the baby gets it when we train them to not make a mess and then all of a sudden we want them to??

      Love the cornbread idea. That’s one of my faves.

  11. We NEVER had a smash cake growing up. It would have been considered wasteful and deplorable in my northern upbringing. I first witnessed this at a nephew’s 1st birthday and felt disgusted by it, then decided I didn’t understand this new generation. Suddenly, it was more than smash cakes. New baby ensemble for each new child in a family, more baby showers for each new baby, and mothers who didn’t like clothes bought for their babies by other people because it didn’t MATCH the particular theme or motif she had in mind for them. I don’t take part in these ridiculous affairs any more. I give a gift card or money and I never have to see how ridiculously the money is spent!!

    Loved the fast-forward thoughts… completely cracked me up!!! Great post!

    • My parents never would have considered it either, Lori.

      Seems like we always have to take everything to the nth degree, doesn’t it. I like the idea of gift cards, myself. We give quite a few out during the year, and it allows the receiver to pick out what they want.

      Glad you like the post. It was a little goofy, but interesting, I thought.

  12. A whole cake just to smash? I hadn’t heard of that. Thank goodness, then, that my son only got to smash his individual piece of cake on his first birthday (chocolate, very messy). Maybe that bodes well for his 21st birthday in less than a month? Sure hope so. Very astute observation on society, MJ, underneath the humor.

  13. Daddy can I have a birthday party.

    No. It is too expensive and you just had one three years ago.

  14. I think my kids were 2 or 3 when they destroyed their piece of cake. I can’t recall what we did for their first, probably because they were one and not into the whole party thing yet. But man! They had fun with their piece of cake later and, I’m happy to say, my daughter made it through her teen years without becoming an alcoholic or drug addict and only rarely posts silly things on FB. The Boy? He’s only 13, so we have a few years yet, but I have a feeling he’s going to be okay too. Cake smashing and all.

    • Thank goodness they’re going to make it through, Tameri, in spite of the mj-proven theory of direct correlation between smash cake and rampant alcohol abuse! hehe

      I’m glad that your superior parenting skills have propelled them past that correlation. 😉

  15. Me? Do this? Are you kidding? Obviously you never met my mother.. Please ! Mom did not believe in destroying food, she was a depression baby, neither do I !

  16. Two cakes for Grand at age 1 yr old ~ his cake prolly 4x ~ a 1 cupcake size ~ he had a blast ~ he ate the cake more than smashed it, but indeed did mess it all over his face, hair, clothes, rest of body, high chair, floor. Grand is the only grand, so happy we all enjoyed it as it was a one time thing.
    * * *
    The beautiful awesome cake you have pictured ~ fabulous. We are far too frugal and budgeted to ‘go there’. A very wonderful read Michael and some ‘sharp’ thinkin’ on your part. I sense some Irish in you. (Smiling) ~ I’m your friend @grammakaye on twitter.

    • Well, you do have to spoil the grandchildren, for sure.

      We rarely do any kind of cake these days, with the kids out of the house. Kind of miss those events.

      It’s always a pleasure to have you on the blog and provide your usual charm and wit, my friend!

  17. Naomi Baltuck says:

    Hi mj, interesting connection. Here’s another connection to think about; cake smashing someone’s face on his/her wedding day. That strikes me as demeaning and mean-spirited, especially on a day when two people are promising to take care of and be kind to each other for the rest of their lives. On my second birthday, I did pull the birthday cake my mother had baked down from the table. When she walked into the room, my twin and I were having a little Cake Smash of our own, but it wasn’t sanctioned. by the parental units. Funny and thought-provoking post.

    • Naomi, you are too-right about the wedding day cake smashing! I didn’t even make that connection. You and one other person did. Very astute. To me, that’s actually worse than a small child doing it, because it can turn ugly very quickly.

      Glad you were able to get a little unsanctioned cake smash as a child! :)

  18. Judy Berman says:

    On their first birthday celebrations, our daughters had a small slice from their own cake. They ate it and they also made a mess. That’s to be expected as all their meals wound up the same way. One of our daughters also had a food fight at her wedding. I refrained from slinking under the table and was only grateful that this involved just their friends.

  19. You raise some good points LOL

  20. I think I’d have been yelled at if I smashed a cake, and besides – that’s a waste of perfectly good cake!
    I have no idea what I did on my younger birthdays with cake, or if I even have one. I remember having a birthday party when I was 5 or 6 and I blew out the candles on my cake which was promptly spirited away. My parents sliced the cake up and then wrapped each piece in a serviette and placed it in little doggy bags that everyone took home with them. We were too busy playing pass the parcel to notice that we weren’t actually eating the cake through 😛

  21. Smash cake = binge drinking. Hmmm.
    I never did have a smash cake. But my parents had lots of parties where I was caught with stray G&T’s and my head under the keg. Good thing it’s too late to call CPS!

  22. writingfeemail says:

    Can we all agree that cake smashing for any event – especially weddings – isn’t a good idea. If my husband had smashed cake in my face on our wedding day, I would have had our marriage annulled. Of course, if we start kids out by smashing the cake, how can we expect them to know it isn’t cool? Good job MJ.

  23. I didn’t even know about the smash cake tradition! Glad I read your blog so I know all that I’m missing out on: babyccino, smash cakes …. I’m totally guilty of having a cake completely spilling over with fondant decorations though. To be fair to me, I wanted a plain cream frosting with 3 simple japanese dolls on top. The cake decorator decided that kids cakes should be spilling over with colours and cute stuff, so I had a rude shock on cake collection day. Sorry, I know I digress, I just had to whine.

    Very interesting correlation btw. I’m now glad my parents don’t know of the smash cake tradition :)

    • Hmm, fondant decorations sounds good. I bet it was cool. I like the simple dolls as well. Were you happy with the colors?

      Do you think your parents would want your kids to do the smash cake?

  24. prabat parimal says:

    In small Indian towns celebrating Birthday of children is in vogue now. But i didn’t know about this smashing ritual.

  25. I never did nor experienced such an event of smashing any food item. I think its too much for a one year kid at least. I love the way you transformed that event as a kid to a similar event as an adult where cake is replaced by alcohol. Great post Mj. :)

  26. Did I eat a smash cake when I was a child. I am asking my aunts first thing in the morning. The thing is, I already have inkling.

    Loved this post. Not a cake person, though.

  27. Wow… that’s pretty good. You could also add a photo of a teen in handcuffs… I was there once, and we didn’t even get to drink the beer.

    I have not seen, nor heard of the ‘smash cake’ phenom.

  28. Poor little guy looks like he just won The Hunger Games!

  29. That red frosting is just plain scary. :)

    I always let my kids feed themselves their first birthday cake…but they didn’t get the whole cake, just a piece. Everything in moderation. 😉

  30. Wow, I didn’t know about smashcakes. My daughter is 14, so maybe I missed it? The images here makes me think that in that particular baby’s case… WHY RED?! My gosh, it’s just so… grotesque. It may as well have been a nearly-dead roast beef on the table! Strange practices. It does make me wonder if sometimes people are motivated not by the event/experience, but “what will make a good post/picture/story.” Life and art switcheroo. Interesting topic!

  31. You bring up a great point about making a good story. That may very well be the case of smashing the cake. My youngest if 23 and we definitely didn’t participate in anything like this. Not sure we would if we were parenting today, either. Doesn’t seem like our style.

  32. Bhavya Saluja says:

    hee hee,i am not guilty for anything like it as i never did anything with my cake and rather gulped it down(yum…..).

  33. This is not 100% the same but close. Went to a birthday party a few years back. 1 birthday cake, not 2. After singing Happy bday to you, etc the mom put her hand behind her sons head and shoved it in the left side of the cake. Everyone except me was laughing, taking pictures & even filming. It was hurtful to me because I felt the child had been dis-respected. He appeared to smile & went along with it except to say his eyes were burning. I don’t understand what makes this funny. I feel like some therapist will make some good money someday as this kid tells of the time his mom shoved his face in his birthday cake in front of a bunch of people & everyone laughed at him. How old do you think the boy was at the time? 9. True story.

  34. I am a cake smash photographer and I can tell you it’s lots of fun most of the time, and makes the most beautiful pictures.
    However, red icing on the cake, like the photo above is the worst idea ever. I always tell parents to stay away from red and brown, which give the illusion that baby has just eatin his brother. Or his poo!

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