Is your little one’s first birthday approaching? If so, you’re probably considering how to mark the most special birthday and you’ve also probably considered a cake-smash portrait session to celebrate! It’s one of my most popular session types and for good reason. For starters you actually get three sessions in one read more about them here, but also they’re so much fun – and messy!!

But how do you prepare your baby—and yourself—for this messy, adorable, and oh-so-memorable event? Grab a cuppa, and let’s dive into some tips to make your baby’s cake smash a smashing success!

Choose the right cake

First and foremost, the cake! Opt for a cake that’s not just visually appealing but also baby-friendly. Soft, moist sponge cakes are easier for little hands to smash. Avoid hard icing or decorations that could be a choking hazard. Some parents even go for a healthy cake option made from baby-friendly ingredients like bananas or sweet potatoes. TOP TIP: avoid chocolate cake and instead opt for vanilla sponge as chocolate cake has a habit of looking like something less pleasant in your images!  For my cake smashes I choose to mostly go with simple cakes that compliment my sets.

Cake Smash, First Birthday, Blue Balloon Garland, Boys First Birthday, Ashleigh Shea Photography, London, Orpington

Pick the perfect outfit

This is a photo-op you’ll cherish forever, so make sure your baby looks the part. Many parents opt for a cute but simple outfit like a onesie or a tutu. Remember, it’s going to get messy, so choose something that you don’t mind getting covered in cake. Also, make sure it’s comfortable for your baby to move around in. When clients come in for smashes at the studio, I have a range of outfits they can choose from if they wish. We tend to start with babys portraits first in their 'nice outfit' which is usually what they'll wear for their birthday. We then move on to the smashing, most will change the outfit for this part, which is where the client wardrobe in the studio is an option. One of my outfits in use, isn't she the cutest!

Princess, Cake Smash, Heidi Hope Backdrop, Fairy Lights, Ashleigh Shea Photography, Petts Wood, London

Set the stage

The backdrop and props can add a lot of fun and colour to your cake smash photos. Popular themes include “flower garden,” “Circus Fun,” or even just a simple, elegant setup with balloons and streamers. Make sure all props are baby-safe and that the area is secure to prevent any accidents. If you're choosing to do it yourself at home, your best to have someone there to give you a hand so that they can keep an eye on baby while you snap away.

circus themed cake smash

Do a test run

If your baby has never tasted cake before, it might be a good idea to do a little test run a few days before the event. Let them try a small piece of cake or even just the buttercream. This will help you gauge their reaction and make any necessary adjustments to the cake or schedule. Many aren't keen on their first tasting of cake, crazy little things! So a test run is always a good idea.

Keep essentials handy

Be prepared for a quick cleanup once the cake smashing is done. Keep wet wipes, a change of clothes, and a towel nearby. Some parents even have a small inflatable pool to give their baby a quick wash right after the fun or the kitchen sink ready and filled with warm water for a speedy clean up.

Capture the moment

Whether you’re hiring a professional photographer or doing it yourself, make sure your camera is ready to capture every adorable, messy moment. If you’re taking the photos yourself, make sure to check the lighting and camera settings in advance. You won’t want to miss that first curious poke or the full-on face dive into the cake!

Be patient and go with the flow

Every baby reacts differently to a cake smash. Some dive right in, while others might be a bit hesitant. That’s perfectly okay! The most important thing is to let your baby explore and have fun at their own pace. Don’t rush or force it; the best photos often come from genuine, unscripted moments.


There you have it—your guide to preparing your baby for their first cake smash. With a bit of planning and a whole lot of wipes, you’re all set to make this first birthday celebration a memorable one. So, let them eat cake and let the memories roll! 🎂🎉

I hope you find this blog post both informative and entertaining. Happy first birthday to your little one, and may the cake smashing be epic! 🎂📸


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