DIY Cake Smash Photos At Home “How To Guide”

baby boy having fun at his diy cake smash

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UPDATED : APRIL 22, 2020

Planning a DIY cake smash at home for baby’s first birthday?

The newest trend when it comes to celebrating your little one’s first year milestone is a cake smash!

What is it you ask? Basically you sit baby in front of a cake and give them free reign.

What could go wrong?

A lot, apparently.

Ours was super fun and so so memorable but I sure learned a few things along the way.

As usual, I didn’t plan ahead and threw something quick together last minute and had quite the mess to clean up afterwards.

Here’s a few helpful tips to help you plan and execute the perfect diy cake smash at home!

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Pick a Cake Smash Theme

Picking a theme for your cake smash can help get you organized. It can help you choose colors and props to create a more cohesive and pretty picture.

You don’t want every random item you can find in your cake smash photos.

It can be as simple or fancy as you want but pick a theme. It doesn’t need to be difficult.

Cake smash themes that have been popular over the last few years include things like: unicorn cake smash, Mr.ONEderful, the ever popular princess theme or even just color themes.

I ,myself, kept it simple, my theme was just blue.

This let me organize something quickly as I wasn’t searching for anything too specific, just pretty blue hues.

You can pick up a little cake smash kit like we did. It makes the job a lot easier since everything is already color coordinated for you.

We chose the Ginger Ray collection.

Take a look:

Ginger Ray Pink and Gold Girls First Birthday Cake Smash Kit

Ginger Ray Blue and Gold Boys Cake Smash First Birthday Kit

baby boy first birthday cake smash

I chose this one because I just really like the simplicity and thought it looked beautiful!

It came with:

♡ One Today Gold Script Sign

♡ Blue and gold tassel garland (some assembly required here but it was super easy – although I will say you have to be careful with the gold ones as they can easily rip if you don’t handle them carefully)

♡ Birthday hat

♡ 5 Confettie Balloons

Here’s a few more awesome options I came across:

Boy’s Cake Smash Banner + Crown

baby boy cake smash props

Full Set Baby Boy Cake Smash Kit

This one looks like the one pictured above but just has more stuff like garlands, balloons and more decorations.

Here’s the girl version:

Girl’s Firt Birthday Cake Smash Complete Kit: Pink & Gold

baby girl pink cake smash backgrouond and props

There’s actually so many themed ones to choose from too!

Check out these ones for some inspo:

Dinosaur Themed Cake Smash Set

Carnival Circus Cake Smash Kit

By the way, if you’re going the circus route- look at these adorable ONE letter circus themed sign prop.

Watermelon Themed Kit

Mermaid Themed Kit

I think this kit is a little lack lustre. I woud opt for this one instead even though it’s not first birthday themed and maybe just add a #1 helium balloon.

Jungle Safari Themed Cake Smash Kit

St. Patrick’s Lucky ONE Themed Cake Smash Kit

If you’re still stuck, you can check out this cake smash photography page for some more theme inspiration.

happy birthday boy smiling at cake smash

Get Helpers For Your DIY Cake Smash

If you’re anything like me, asking for help doesn’t come easy. I generally prefer to do things myself because I hate to make anyone feel obligated but this isn’t one of those things you can do successfully by yourself.

I recruited the hubby to assist.

When it comes to baby’s cake smash, the more the merrier, but to a point.

Sometimes having too many people in the room (espcially a lot of people baby isn’t familiar with) can hinder the party.

It may make your little one shy away and cling on to you for dear life.

I suggest having at least 1 or 2 extra hands on deck if you want to avoid ending up with a camera covered in frosting. But choose people who baby is familiar and comfortable with.

Delegate photography to one person so you’re free to make silly faces and encourage that sweet little laugh you’re after.

Having at least one set of clean hands available means you won’t be getting cake everywhere.

Pick The Right Cake For Your First Birthday Cake Smash

One of the most important things to consider with your cake smash is the cake itself.

Whether you’re opting for a fancy-smancy $300 theme cake or something a little more budget friendly, keep these tips in mind.

Opt for a creamy frosting as opposed to fondant.

Fondant looks beautiful because it delivers a clean crisp perfect looking cake.

This is better for an event where the cake has to hold up for a while, like maybe the offcial first birthday party.

However, we want a cake that’s got creamy, soft, touchable, spreadable frosting that gets between your toes (like butter cream) for a cake smash.

You wanna get those cake smears all over the face, it makes for adorable pictures.

The other thing to consider is color.

What kind of photos do you want?

I love seeing bright beautiful colors smooshed all over baby’s face. It adds contrast and interest to your photos as opposed to just white frosting.

We opted for a $10 butter cream cake that we ordered at the local grocery store and it worked perfectly.

If you’re feeling particularly ambitious you can even try to DIY the cake yourself.

I loved the look of this DIY giant cupcake cake smash cake.
Check out the video if you want to learn how to make your own.

Another tip: I love chocolate but maybe not for a cake smash because brown smears on the face…I don’t know.

I think bright and light colors just look better and photograph really well.

One more pro tip I want to mention: serve the cake at room temperature!

Make sure to take your cake out before the cake smash and let it come to room temperaure. Your kiddo probably won’t appreicate a cold hard cake.

diy cake smash at feeding baby son with cake on face

Say Bye-Bye to the Highchair

I know a lot of people do the entire cake smash right on the baby’s highchair and contain the mess that way but I think setting up your photo area on the ground creates much nicer photos and gives you a bigger area to create a nice background and display a few props.

This just means a little extra prep on your part. I got a disposable vinyl tablecloth for the floor so we could just scrunch it up and toss it when we were done.

No muss, no fuss.

This lets you get right up close and personal, you can get pictures of their little hands and feet all covered in cake.

Totally worth the little extra prep IMO!

RELATED POST: Non Toy Gift Ideas That Toddlers LOVE!

Make A DIY Cake Smash Video

If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is a video worth?

I absolutely love my cake smash photos but what is so near and dear to my heart is our cake smash video.

It’s nothing fancy, just a little home movie we made using our smartphones and then a simple edit on the computer with free editing software.

It creates a memorable keepsake you can show your little one when they get a little older.

The moment is over so quickly, I’m glad I took a video so I can replay this memory over and over (as well as share the moment with family and friend ).

We kept our cake smash small as we didn’t want our little bug feeling camera shy with too many people in the room, this way everyone else was able to witness the fun without having to be there.

If you’re curious, you can take a peek at ours below. This video still gives me all the feels.

PRO TIP: hold your camera horiztontally when recording! I didn’t and then you end up with those black bars on either side.

RELATED POST: How To Celebrate Child’s Birthday Without A Party

Lighting Is Key For Baby’s Cake Smash Photos

Lighting is everything!

There’s no point going through all this trouble just to end up with dark pictures because you didn’t consider lighting.

I totally forgot to consider the light.

We thought it would be a fun way to celebrate his birthday by having a midnight cake smash, only problem, no sunlight.

Without proper lighting your photos will need a lot of editing.

Lucky for me, I have a set of professional lights from my YouTubing days.

This worked for a last minute improv solution but I would have much preferred natural light.

Photos taken in natural lighting just look much better so plan ahead. Maybe even an outdoor cake smash.

The Best Camera For Your DIY Cake Smash

I just wanted to mention that obviously, you’ll get the best results if you’re using the best camera.

At the time that we did our cake smash, I dind’t invest in a DSLR high quality camera. I just used my Iphone and I was pretty happy with the resutls.

Later that year, we decided to take the plunge and actually invest in a good camera since I ended up taking around 5000 photos of my little guy on my phone that year!

Afte buying our digital camera I was actually so bummed I didn’t invest in one sooner. The picture quality isn’t even comparable.

After doing a ton of research we settled on the Sony A6000 Mirrorless camera.

I’m absoutely in love with this thing! It takes DSLR quality photos but without all the bulkiness because it’s mirrorless.

It’s nice and compact so we actually take it with us when we go out.

I only wish I had bought it earlier and used it for our cake smash. It’s definitely one of the best investments we’ve made for capturing our little guy’s precious ‘firsts’.

If you grab one with a tripod it’s super helpful because it allows you to get in the photos too. You can take the picures remotely using your phone + the sony app.

RELATED POST: Practical Toddler Gift Ideas (That Parents Appreciate)

Cake Smash Background and Photoshoot Props: Less is More

It’s easy to get carried away with your background and props, I say keep it simple. You don’t need too many things, it gets too busy and ends up looking more cluttered.

Select a few key pieces that really represent your theme.

We kept it super simply with just some balloons , a happy birthday sign and a little tassel banner.

The focus stays on baby instead of a crowded background. Too many props and your little one might be too distracted to think about the cake.

In this situation, I think less is more.

You’re prop is going to depend on you’re theme of course but here’s a few ideas:

♡ Birthday Crown (Girls) (Boys)

ONE Gold Script Cake Topper

First Birthday Balloon Box Display

12 Months Milestones Birthday Banner

Birthday Milestones Customizable Chalkboard

DIY Cake Smash Outfit For Baby

Don’t forget your baby’s cake smash OOTD!

This is a great time to have fun with clothes.

Obviously don’t pick something that you’re planning on wearing again for something special in case you can’t get those stains out.

We wanted to keep his top half bare for more cake smears so we opted for a cute pair of pants and red suspenders.

You can put something together yourself or head over to itsy for an awesome (although kinda expensive) cake smash outfit.

Check out some of these adorable ones for inspiration! So cuuuute!

Boys Cake Smash Outfit Bloomers + Suspenders + Tie

boys cake smash outfit

Unisex Baby Romper Bodysuit Assorted Colors

baby's cake smash outfit

Baby Girl’s Cake Smash Outfit Tutu

baby girl cake smash outfit pink tutu

Consider Any Allergies

I made sure to give the little guy a bit of cake before the actual cake smash.

He’s got eczema and I never know what might set it off so we’re always cautious about introducing new food.

The last thing I need is for him to gobble half a cake and then find out his little body doesn’t take too kindly to it.

I would suggest doing the same to be on the safe side.

Nudge Them in the Right Direction

Some babies know exactly what to do and others need a little encouragement. My little guy didn’t jump right in like I expected him to.

Maybe it was just too much pressure, we will never know.

He just sat there staring while I excitedly yelled “go on baby, yummy cake!”

That that didn’t work.

So then, I put a little frosting on his lip and his eyes lit up.

After that there was no going back, he jumped right in until he was covered head to toe in cake and frosting (and then so was I).

I was so glad the floor had the plastic sheet!

RELATED POST: Fun Places To Take a 1- Year-Old To Encourage Their Development

baby reaching for cake during cake smash photos

Cake Smash Clean up Tips

Keep in mind, a cake smash is meant to be a messy, fun, sensory experience for your baby. With kids comes mess, that’s inevitable.

However, being prepared makes the clean up easier so anticipate the things you’ll need ahead of time and keep them on hand.

As I already mentioned, if you’re doing your cake smash on the floor, make sure to grab a plastic table cloth that you can simple toss when you’re done.
At least the floor is taken care of (mostly) . You might want to grab a few if you’re worried.

Have some paper towels on hand and maybe some baby wipes too. Don’t forget to keep your garabage bag, a broom and dust pan nearby too.

Have a little plastic bag handy as well to throw the cake covered clothes in.

We actually had all his bath stuff set up as well so we could go straight to bath time once the cake smash was over.

DIY Cake Smash Photos At Home

I hope you feel inspired to plan and throw your own DIY cake smash right at home! It doesn’t have to be hard or complicated. It just takes a little bit of planning and organization.

Cake smash photography can get expensive but it’s such a nice keepsake so if you want to go the DIY route, I say give it a try!

Remember, it’s more about the experience than just pretty photos. It’s a special way to celebratee one of baby’s first huge milestones (and yours too, you all survived YEAR ONE!).

Make this an oppotunity to create more cherised memories and take some lovely photos you’ll look back on and love.

Got any more tips or your own cake smash story? I would love to hear them.

Leave me a comment.

39 comments on “DIY Cake Smash Photos At Home “How To Guide”

    Shanté Alexis

    • February 20, 2019 at 6:54 pm

    Love this


    • February 22, 2019 at 3:19 pm

    Aww, he looks so happy! And the blue cake looks scrumptious. Glad he had fun!

    Luna S

    • February 22, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    It looks like he was having a blast and the photoshoot looks like a ton of fun.


    • February 22, 2019 at 5:24 pm

    OH how cute is this?! What great ideas – and I like that you said less is more for decorations/background. I always feel that way too!!

    Hoang Vi Fessenden

    • February 22, 2019 at 9:47 pm

    Aww this is too cute! Love it! My son turns one in April!


    • February 22, 2019 at 9:51 pm

    This is so cute, he sure have a blast


    • February 22, 2019 at 11:23 pm

    These are great tips and so adorable! He looked like he enjoyed it.


    • February 23, 2019 at 2:31 am

    WoW!!! this really looks cute.

    Thanks for sharing


      • February 27, 2019 at 11:39 am

      This is really beautiful, I loved reading these tips. I hope to try it out when I have my own baby. Your baby looks so cute and adorable!

    Stace Edoha

    • February 23, 2019 at 3:41 am

    That video is absolutely adorable!

    Hello Draw Easy

    • February 23, 2019 at 10:31 am

    Very nicely done.everything is very gud
    Excellent efforts of you!!!great
    Wow! You are so creative

    Neil Alvin Nicerio

    • February 23, 2019 at 1:03 pm

    I love this. My daughter would surely love this one as well.


    • February 23, 2019 at 6:14 pm

    This is awesome moment with child having blast with cake and relishing it.

    Matija Antonić

    • February 23, 2019 at 7:20 pm

    The kid looks like e had a good time, I mean who wouldn’t if you place a cake infront of them and just let them do what they want, it looks like a nice photoshoot, In my country we still have the regular B-day parties with no cake smashing, maybe just a piece of cake smashing xD

    Tara at Beach Expressions

    • February 23, 2019 at 8:13 pm

    These are some great tips for parents!

    Nina Nichols

    • February 23, 2019 at 11:09 pm

    What an adorable baby! I am sending this link to my niece who is about to give birth so she would have an idea for a cake smash!

    Danielle Rice

    • February 24, 2019 at 4:13 am

    I’ve missed both first birthdays for my boys, but my hubby just held both of them as they smashed the cake. Little man was a bit frightened by the cake.

    Keshia Richmond

    • February 24, 2019 at 6:32 pm

    Interesting concepts on cake smashing.


    • February 25, 2019 at 3:58 am

    Such great tips. I love cake smash. Have been planning one for my kid

    Elizabeth O

    • February 25, 2019 at 6:56 am

    he looks so happy and enjoying the moment. there are so many tips you shared for the parents.

    Aliya T

    • February 25, 2019 at 2:35 pm

    He looked like he really enjoyed his cake. Great tips thanks for sharing.

    JK Darling

    • February 25, 2019 at 3:46 pm

    I agree that a video is a cool way to keep memories fresh. I love to take videos of aome spl moments too. 😊


    • February 25, 2019 at 5:34 pm

    He’s so cute and great cake smash pictures

    CARMEN | Wellington World Travels

    • February 26, 2019 at 7:05 am

    I wish I had read this before my daughter had her cake smash. Didn’t know how to pull a diy off, so we just call a professional photographer. If I’ll have another baby, we will surely try a diy cake smash.

    Chantelle Hadden

    • February 26, 2019 at 9:07 pm

    This is definitely something I want to try when I have kids.


    • March 8, 2019 at 4:34 pm

    Some great tips! I wish I would have done it on the floor for my son instead of in a highchair, definitely with the next one!


    • March 8, 2019 at 5:43 pm

    What an adorable moment! Love these tips! Keep it simple and fun! I like it!


    • March 8, 2019 at 8:40 pm

    Sooo adorable! I’ll definitely be sharing this with my mommy friends who have littles who need smashcakes!


    • March 8, 2019 at 8:59 pm

    So precious! We didn’t do a cake smash with this baby, but maybe the next one. I like your idea of limiting mess by keeping the baby topless.

    Mary Rohrer

    • March 8, 2019 at 10:05 pm

    OMG these pictures are adorable. Good job mama:)

    Ashley Allen

    • March 8, 2019 at 11:56 pm

    Oh. My. Goodness. What a sweet video!! My third is having her first birthday on Easter and I’ve been researching how to do her cake smash. I am glad I found this article. I’ve pinned it to my board so I can remember all the great advice. Thank you!


      • March 9, 2019 at 12:13 am

      Yay! I’m so glad you found it useful. Haha yes, the video was my favourite part! He’s growing waaaay too quickly, I love going back and watching with him.

    Kyra Martinez

    • March 9, 2019 at 1:26 am

    Your son is so adorable! I can’t wait to have a cake smash like this for my daughter’s first birthday.


    • March 9, 2019 at 1:42 am

    He’s s adorable! We had our cake smash session during his birthday party and it was lots of fun!

    Lorena with Motherhood Unfiltered

    • March 9, 2019 at 7:50 pm

    These are great ideas. I wish I would have read them before we had my sons first birthday. We did a fondant soccer ball cake and it was so perfect he didn’t want to eat it. He probably would have been more interested in an icing cake. We also did it in the high chair and it got extremely messy when he finally realized it was cake.


    • March 10, 2019 at 1:56 am

    Great tips, thank you for sharing! Getting ready for a cake smash now for my almost one year old and he has many allergies, so I really appreciated the allergy tip! Thanks!

    Gina Cortez

    • February 21, 2020 at 7:07 pm

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    • April 25, 2020 at 7:21 am

    This is adorable! Much cuter than my last go at a cake smash, lol. I wish I had known kits exist, that’s such a smart idea!


    • April 26, 2020 at 6:44 am

    this is absolutely adorable…a wonderful way to capture the memory 🙂

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