What's a birthday party without cake? You have to have cake! And for most parents, the first birthday cake offers the ultimate photo opportunities.
For Stephanie Benson of Des Plaines, Illinois, it was all about the cake, and she recommends every one-year-old get his or her own "smash cake." "Not just a piece of their birthday cake, but a miniature cake just for them," says Benson, who has hosted three first birthday events for her boys. "Make it a yellow cake with white frosting, so it is easier to get their clothes clean!" Benson has fond memories (and photos!) of her son Zachary's first birthday party, when he had frosting in his nose and all over his face.
If you're concerned about nutrition, you don't have to serve the traditional cake and ice cream. Kitty Broihier, dietitian and author of The Big Book of Low-Carb, suggests focusing on more healthful types of birthday cake, such as "carrot cake baked in muffin tins dusted with powdered sugar." Broihier also says banana muffins sans frosting make a great healthy alternative to the usual frosted cakes. Mini-muffins are also a treat and easy for tiny fingers to grasp and eat.
You can also create your own calorie-friendly ice-cream cake masterpiece. Broihier suggests making a cake using "low-fat ice cream layered with graham crackers and drizzled with chocolate syrup or topped with berries." If you do choose this dessert route, Broihier says it's essential to soften the ice cream ahead of time so you can spread it onto the graham crackers, but then refreeze it once you're done. About 10 minutes before cake time, remove the cake from the freezer so it can thaw a bit for easier cutting.
Broihier says shortcakes topped with berries and light whipped cream and even sorbet are also "refreshing alternatives to frosting-heavy traditional cakes."
The most important things to remember when celebrating your baby's first birthday are to keep your own expectations low, the wet wipes handy, and the camera ready. There are sure to be many smiles from your brand-new toddler, confirming you're doing a great job raising him!