Cake Smash: Expectation vs Reality

Have you ever met a one year old?

I have. I’ve met hundreds, in every mood possible – happy, grumpy, sad, angry, sleepy, hungry, excited, shy.

Every one year old is different. Every day is different for a one year old just like it is for you and me. Unlike you and me though, when you’re one, new situations can be really overwhelming, exciting and sometimes scary. I try to manage all my clients expectations for their cake smashes by sending them over my cake smash survival guide which helps to prepare not only the toddler but also the parents for the photoshoot.

Although my cake smash guide is succinct in helping prep at home and what to expect at the session, sometimes, as with young children in every day life, things go differently than expected!

You’ve prepared for your cake smash, your little one has tried a bit of cake before so you know they won’t instantly think it’s poison and refuse to eat it. You’ve spent weeks planning their perfect outfit to go with the theme. You arrive at the studio to see your beautiful cake and set up ready aaaanddd…your one year old says “Lol. Nope. Not today”

This happens every day.

No matter how prepared you can be, no matter how well timed the naps and car rides and nappies have been – sometimes one year olds just don’t feel like doing stuff.

He was actually very happy prior to this – honestly!

What not to do

  • DON’T get upset or angry. Your little one will pick up on your emotions and it will be game over. Babies can always turn things around, they just need some encouragement
  • DON’T push them into it. They are in a new place with new people, dressed in different clothes to usual with food they’ve likely never seen before. If your little one is upset from the off, pushing cake into their face to try and cheer them up is not the way to go.
  • DON’T leave them sat there like a sad little pudding. I highly recommend cuddles for solving 99.9% of issues during sessions. (Also why I recommend you DON’T come dressed in your nicest clothes – sorry about your trainers, most Dads who have been in the studio!)

What to do

  • DO pick your baby up. Give them a cuddle. Talk to them. You’ve brought them somewhere new and they’re confused. You are the only people they know in this weird place!
  • DO distract them. Baby Shark is the main winner here. Toys, YouTube, singing, hitting dad in the face with a balloon… (okay maybe that one is more fun for mum!) Cheering them up with something familiar is a sure fire way to help baby settle in
  • DO eat some cake. I always recommend this. If they’re happy now and still not sure, eat some cake yourself. Seeing mummy or daddy eat cake usually helps encourage little one to be interested!
  • DO bring snacks. Cakes are weird. They’re brightly coloured and really sweet. Some babies just aren’t into that. Some of my best cake smashes we’ve had to include crisps and biscuits hidden in the back of the cake!
Crisps are usually a winner – believe it or not we got gorgeous smiles between these!

The most important things to remember about your cake smash is yours will be entirely different from everyone else’s. Of course myself and all other cake smash photographers share the messy happy babies for advertising. But I will guarantee you most of those babies caked in cake(!) and laughing their heads off have had at least one temper tantrum or upset moment during the session. It’s science!

If your little one isn’t sure around strangers please let me know, and you can come a bit earlier to your session if I have the time available. This gives them time to settle in a little and understand that I’m not there to torture them 🤣

I hope this little blog has helped! I think it’s so important for parents to understand that these things happen EVERY DAY. I see it all the time! So no, your baby isn’t being awkward, or naughty. Cake smashes are weird! Weird things confuse babies. The best thing we can do is make them as comfortable as possible and if that involves spending ten minutes breastfeeding, eating wotsits, having Baby Shark on repeat for half an hour straight or whatever else makes your one year feel comfortable, then that’s what we have to do!

It’s hard work being one. But it’s worth it for the cake!

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