Cake smash! The new first birthday trend

Toddlers are encouraged to destroy their birthday cakes for a photo session

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It may sound a bit odd: present your one-year-old with a cake and encourage them to destroy it, but this is a “cake smash”, the new trend in first birthday photos.

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By the time most babies are one, they usually haven’t tasted cake before – let alone been allowed to do whatever they want with it. But during a cake smash session – which you can snap pics of yourself or hire a photographer to capture – little ones are encouraged to plant their faces in the cake, mush it up, throw it around or crawl through it.

The trend started in the US and the photos are often used as the image on first birthday invitations. 

Photographer Yasmin Anne Mason, who offers cake smash photo sessions from £75 in the UK, said: “Rather than spending hours trying to get a toddler to sit still while you attempt to take a portrait shot, this is all about freedom, self-expression and it’s the best way to create natural, carefree and unforgettable images of your little one.”

If you fancy giving it a go yourself, here are some tips to have a successful smash:

  • Choose the location. If you’re going to have the cake smash indoors, you’ll need to set up an area. You’re encouraging your baby to make a mess so tack down a washable sheet in a neutral colour on the floor, and one on the wall.
  • Natural light will give you better photos. If you’re having the smash indoors, create your makeshift studio to the left or right of a window – never in front of or behind one. Similarly, if you’re outside, make sure the sun is either to left or the right of your child and never in front of or behind them.
  • Fluffy plain icing on the cake works best – but decorations, like sprinkles can add colour to the pictures. Make sure the icing is something they can really get their hands into, like buttercream or cream cheese frosting and that it’s not too hard or cold when you first present them with it.
  • Make sure your toddler is a little hungry – but not ravenous and cranky – before you start.
  • Get your camera ready and sit your baby on the floor of your little makeshift studio (or outside) with the cake just in front of them, either on a stand or just a plate. Give them a chance to discover it themselves.
  • To get them to look up at you and the camera while they munch, sing a song to them or make funny noises.
  • If they start to lose interest in the icing and don’t manage to dig into the cake, help them out by having a knife on hand so you can cut into it.

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