Sarah Dipity


Tips for a Successful Cake Smash Session

First birthday boy having fun during his cake smash session in an NJ photo studio.

cake smash session is one of the most fun and memorable ways to capture your baby’s first birthday. It’s an opportunity to capture the joy, excitement, and messiness of a special milestone in your baby’s life. However, cake smash photography requires special techniques and tricks to get the perfect shot. To ensure you get the best photos possible, here are 5 tips for a successful cake smash (& splash) session. From choosing the right cake and decorations to setting the scene and capturing the perfect moment, these tips will ensure your cake smash session is a smashing success.

1st Birthday girl wearing a pink tutu & gold party hat about to put cake icing in her mouth during her 1s birthday photo shoot.

Choose the Right Cake

The cake is the centrepiece of any cake smash session and will likely be the first thing your baby grabs. It’s vital that you select a cake that is safe for babies to eat. Skip the chocolate and opt for a white or yellow cake with light icing so you don’t have to worry about stains on baby & clothing with artificial dyes. If you’re still worried about the mess, you can opt for a naked cake, cupcake smash, or faux cake instead. Whipped or buttercream without added sugar is my recommendation when possible as many babies find sugar too sweet for them this young. I have even had clients do cookies, donuts, pizzas, spaghetti, tacos smashes instead of cake for not only 1st birthday for 2nd, 3rd, or 4th too!

baby boy smiling with his first birthday cake on a a winter wonderland background.

Select the Perfect Outfit

Your baby’s outfit will play a big part in setting the tone, theme, and mood of your cake smash session. You have a few different options to choose from, including a cute romper, dress, jeans for boys, or even a onesie, but the key is to make sure the outfit is easy to clean if planning on wearing it again. While your baby’s outfit is important, your choice of clothing shouldn’t be overlooked either. Make sure you wear something easy to clean and comfortable & not upset if it get’s stained- most parents leave messier than the baby! Also be sure to ask your photographer’s recommendation and if they provide any wardrobe as well.

Prepare the Scene

The scene and setting for your cake smash photo shoot are just as important as your baby’s outfit. It’s your chance to set the mood and create a memorable environment that your photos will live on in your family’s photo collection forever. When setting up your scene, keep these tips in mind to help your cake smash session come to life.

– Choose a Cake Shop: The easiest way to get your hands on a delicious, mess-free cake is to go to a local cake shop and ask if they offer a cake smash service. If you are feeling ambitious and want to bake your own cake, make sure you have enough time to let it cool and settle so it’s safe for your baby to eat.

– Pick a Theme: Another way to set the mood is to pick a theme for your cake smash session. This can be anything from a simple/solid/non-themed, sports-themed cake smash to a more whimsical girly smash. It’s a fun way to customize your session and make memories that will last a lifetime.

– Choose a Backdrop: Another easy way to set the scene for your cake smash session is to choose a backdrop for your photos. Your photographer may have the option for custom new designs or have a gallery of backgrounds to choose from so be sure to ask what options you have.

– Choose a Time of Day: The final tip to help you set the scene for your cake smash session is to choose a time of day to do your photos. You have a few options, but picking a time not interfering around baby’s nap schedule is ideal. This may vary depending on your photographer’s work hours to be sure to choose one who can accommodate you’r baby’s happiest time of day.

1st birthday boy on a safari themed background smiling with his smash cake.

Capture the Perfect Moment

The perfect moment to capture during your cake smash session is right when your baby grabs the cake but before that be sure to get some clean photo shots without the cake or the cake in the background incase baby wants nothing to do with the cake. I always suggest parents bring a small snack like puffs or blueberries whatever baby likes incase we need to place something on the cake that they will want to eat to convince them it’s okay to touch the cake or at least look as if they are.

– Take Your Time: Your cake smash session doesn’t have to be rushed. Plan to spend at least 45 minutes at your baby’s first birthday milestone photo shoot. It’s one of the most important milestones in your baby’s life, so you want to make sure you get the perfect photos to remember.

Black and white photo of baby boy with cake icing on his face.

Keep it Clean

Finally, keep in mind that your cake smash photo shoot will likely end up messy. You may want to go with a smash & splash option if your photographer offer it so that the majority of the mess is cleaned off in the tiny tub before dressing baby to go home. Make sure you have a plan for how to clean up the mess after your cake smash session. I recommend on bringing at least 1 towel, baby wash clothes, lots of wipes & charges of clothes for everyone present. 

You never know what will become a family heirloom. Cake smash photos are great keepsakes for your baby’s first birthday. And with these 5 tips for a successful cake smash session, you can rest assured that you’ll get some truly memorable photos to remember this special milestone & don’t forget to print them! If you’d like to book a cake smash session with SarahDipity Photography please contact me here or via email at

1st Birthday girl in mini tub splashing around after her cake smash.

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