The cake smash has become more popular than ever and I couldn’t be a bigger fan. I absolutely love watching little ones grab it, poke it, put their face right down in it and get messy as can be. But not all moms are jazzed about the idea of loading up their one year olds with processed sugar, artificial dyes and other junk. And some moms don’t care at all about the sugar side of things but just want to do something different and unique or special to their family. Is your baby turning 1? Here’s a few non-cake ideas to consider when planning their first birthday photos- whether you hire a professional photographer or not! 

1. Another Sweet Treat!

Don’t love cake? How about waffles and whip cream? Dad’s a cop? How about coffee and donuts and a tiny uniform?? Love to bake? Let them help you bake a batch of cookies and capture the mess that all that entails from the flour covered floor to the chocolate smeared face.

2. Go for the Savory

Want to avoid sugars all together? There are still a ton of food options! Spaghetti is a popular choice because the vibrant red sauce makes for some great messy photos. Do you have an obsession with all things taco and burrito like me? Consider a taco smash! Mashed sweet potatoes sound like a delicious option to squish through those tiny fingers and that bright orange would look great on camera. 

3. Paint the town…and the baby

When my first born was little we painted a lot and his absolute favorite thing to paint was his own body. When he was around 2 we were out in the yard painting and I ran inside to get something. When I came back out he proudly shouted “Mommy I paint my penis green!” Yes you sure did buddy, good work. Kids love paint- strip them down (or maybe dress them in all white!) give them some colors and see what happens. This probably could go without saying but non-toxic paint is important with 1 year olds. 

4. Good old fashioned dirt. 

There’s nothing wrong with letting a kid just get down and dirty. Go on an adventure walk (or out in your own backyard), find a muddy puddle and see what happens. Or if you just want the illusion of dirt (but not actual dirt) crunch up some Oreos, toss in some gummy worms and give the kids some toy tractors. 

5. But…..the mess. 

Ok, we know….all the ideas above and the classic cake smash are super messy. That’s the point, the messier the better! But some moms are just not into that and that’s cool too. Go for the classic 1st birthday shoot instead- get some balloons, pick a color theme, buy some cute suspenders and a bow tie or a tutu and a sparkly crown. One year olds are adorable no matter what, so pick something that’s meaningful to you and go for it. Costumes are also a fantastic choice to add to any theme! Bonus: 1 year olds can’t really stop you from dressing them up in something ridiculous yet. Capitalize on the opportunity because soon they’ll only want to wear Paw Patrol and Lightning McQueen t-shirts. 

6. Don’t skimp on the bubbles! 

No matter which of the above you choose to go for we recommend not skipping the bubble bath cleanup! After all of our one year old smash sessions we offer a warm bubble bath cleanup and often these are my favorite photos from the entire session. If a kid cries the entire time they’re smashing their cake they often are laughing and giggling in the bubbles. Good clean fun right there. 

Are you currently planning a first birthday? We’d love to hear your non-traditional ideas!