The Essential Guide to Preparing for a Cake Smash

Small snacks like cheerios stuck in the icing may entice your hesitant little one to start smashing!


If you’ve been planning to schedule a Cake Smash photo shoot for your little one’s first birthday, then you’ve come to the right place.  You MUST read this guide and print out the checklist to ensure a stress-free session and adorable pictures!

If you're planning to schedule a cake smash photo shoot for your little one's first birthday, there are a number of essential tips you need to know!


A first birthday is an emotional milestone for mama and babe and it’s a time you’ll want to remember!  There are so many great ideas out there for insanely cute cake smash themes, props and styles.  But have you taken the time to think about the logistics of planning a potentially complex photo session when the main character may decide to be uncooperative?

Here are some tips to consider that will help enormously with scoring a successful shoot.

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Plan the Outfit

Don’t wait until the day of the photo shoot to decide on and test an outfit.  Inevitably, the dress you planned on using will have a big stain you didn’t know about, or the elastic will be shot in the little man’s suspenders.  Talk to your photographer about backdrop options so you can coordinate the outfit and accessories.  (Felt flower headbands are the PERFECT accessory for a cake smash!)  🙂  Shoes, however, are likely unnecessary as you’ll want some shots of little toes and cleaning icing out of velcro straps sounds like a nightmare.

Preparing for a Cake Smash Photo Session


Backup Outfit

Moms of young children know the drill:  You take time to prepare the cutest outfit, even allowing your little one to voice an opinion at the store.  You prep babe for wearing the outfit with a test-run around the house and exclaiming how adorable they look until they glow with joy.  Headbands are tested for weeks so that babe will get used to wearing them and not pull them off.  In short, you do everything in your power to prepare your child for the event and outfit to come.  And yet.  On the day of the shoot, babe wants absolutely NOTHING to do with the perfect little outfit you painstakingly prepared them for.  Do yourself a favour and bring along a second outfit, just in case.

Small Snacks – But Not for Snacking

Sometimes it happens that babe is disinterested in the cake, especially if this is their first experience with cake or lots of sweetness.  Bring along a few of your child’s favourite small snacks, such as cheerios, puffs, berries, goldfish etc, that can be stuck in the icing (out of view of the camera).  This may entice your little one to start sticking their hands in the cake just to get at the familiar snacks.  That may be enough to get the (cake) ball rolling!

Prep Run

Another thing you can try ahead of time is to give babe a taste of cake a few days before the photo session.  They may be more likely to get their hands adorably dirty if they already know what to expect.

Guide to preparing for a cake smash photo shoot


Trust the Experts

If your child still won’t get involved in smashing the cake, the photographer likely has a few tricks up their sleeve to ensure cute pictures.  Make sure your photographer has previous experience either with cake smash shoots or with small children.  They will likely have a number of props, toys or phrases that can get your child interested in hamming it up for the camera.


Changes of Clothes … for Everyone

I’m sure you’ve already planned to bring one, or many, changes of clothing for babe.  But cakes have icing.  And icing in the grips of tiny fingers will end up spread everywhere, including all over mom and dad.  You’re definitely going to want to bring a change of clothes for everyone who will be there.  Or at least layer an old t-shirt over your outfit that you can just pull off after the shoot.  And make extra sure that you have brought along a bag large enough to contain everyone’s soiled clothing.

Cake Smash Prep


Clean Up

Wipes, wipes and more wipes.  Leave your home with no less than an entire trunkful of wipes.  And a couple of towels and face cloths.  Ask your photographer how close the nearest bathroom is to the studio.  You’ll want to plan out the best route.  Ask if the sink is large enough for babe to sit in and if there’s a surface that can act as a change table.  Make sure there is a bathmat or lay down a towel so you don’t end up soaking the whole bathroom.

Tub Session

Another option for easy clean up is to schedule a tub session immediately after the cake smash.  Some photographers may have a galvanized tub prop that is perfect for this idea.  Strip your baby down, plop them in the tub with a little water and you’ve got yourself a second set of totally adorable pictures!  (If you’re lucky, you’ll get a bum pic that you can show their prom date!)

Go With the Flow

And finally, sometimes nothing goes as planned!  Try to go with it anyway, you never know what amazing photos you might get!

Preparing for a Cake Smash photo Session


Many thanks to Kelly Anderson Photography for the beautiful photos in this post!  And to Krystle Cleary Photography who shared so many helpful tips with me!

So, grab your checklist and start preparing!  Do you have any tips for planning the perfect cake smash?



  1. This is just too cute! I did a cake smash with my first but didn’t get great pictures and I’m determined to get good pictures with my next one!

  2. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! My little turns one in a week and a half and I’ve been so focused on the theme I didn’t even think about logistics! This is so so helpful!

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