Milestones Studio Sessions, Cake Smash

February 10, 2023

First Birthday Portraits

baby girl smiling in high chair with cake for first birthday portraits

Cake Smash for First Birthday Portraits

Celebrate your baby’s first year with a cake smash, with Ellicott City baby photographer, Rebecca Leigh Photography. Since I began photographing cake smashes, I’ve set up many themes with props over the years. I enjoyed using my creativity. And my clients liked the custom themes for their images. Over time my prop collection began to take over more than my storage space allows. And my design aesthetic has evolved into “a less is more” mentality. I find myself drawn to more simplistic set-ups for one year sessions.

It’s my goal to create timeless images for you, where your baby is the focus. So in 2023, I’ve started to pair down my prop collection and not to store items “just in case” I might use them in a few years. I’m keeping the staples, and keeping it simple. Simple is beautiful and highlights your baby’s personality; the best part of the portraits.

baby girl smashing a cake

I provide cake stands for your cake. I recommend a small 4″ cake with 3-4 tiers or a 6″ cake with 3 tiers. That might seem small, but in fact the size looks perfect for photography sessions. I made a 9″ cake with a 6″ second tier, for my third baby’s cake smash 7 years ago and it was pretty big next to him, and not necessary. So trust me when I say the smaller cakes work best! Please use only white icing because food coloring stains clothing and wooden surfaces and can’t be removed. My favorite classic style is called a “semi-naked” cake. It has thin icing so that the cake shows through in some spots. For more information on choosing a smash cake, check out this blog post.

Floral or leaf garlands and balloons

Sometimes I will use fresh flowers on or around the cake or to design a custom floral background. Currently I have several floral and leaf garlands for those who would like them. And I can air inflate balloons on the floor. I keep white balloons in stock since they look nice and soft with the background.

Introducing the new high chair for cake smashes!

I’ve recently added an adorable wooden high chair as an option. This is great for “runners.” 😉 You can’t run off set when you’re in a high chair. I think my clients will love this for the movers and the shakers. Ask any of my clients who got a work out while continuously picking up their crawling or walking baby and placing them back next to the cake stand on the floor every 30 seconds. But truly, not only is the high chair functional, it is cute and I love the look of it in photos, so it’s a win-win.

Baby girl sitting in high chair for first birthday portraits

Not sure which option you prefer? Start the session in the high chair and then move to the floor with the cake stand for a few minutes. I do think the high chair is helpful because babies know that they eat while in a high chair and may focus on the cake as it will be right in their face. Don’t worry if they don’t smash the cake to pieces; a little icing on the hands and face is enough to commemorate the moment for photos.

Baby girl sitting in high chair for first birthday portraits
baby girl eating a cake on a cake stand for first birthday portraits

Baby in basket or sitting portraits for first birthday

Before we start with the cake smash, we will take a couple of minutes to photograph your baby in a prop, such as the Moses basket. I like to place a wooden egg shaker and a rattle in the basket. Babies are busy and often they need something to hold or entertain them so they’ll sit still for a moment. Then we can take a few photos of your baby on the floor or sitting/standing on a soft fabric.

Baby sitting in a Moses Basket for first birthday portraits
baby sitting and smiling with bottom two teeth and holding a wooden egg shaker
baby sitting on a furry fabric


Followed by the cake smash, you may opt to have a few clawfoot tub photos for the water-free “splash.” Baby can keep his or her diaper on because the tub is empty. I have a bubble machine which is very entertaining for everyone and usually your baby will love the bubbles flying over the tub.

baby splash with bubbles
baby smiling at bubbles

Family Portraits

Then we transition again to family photos (if desired) on the cushioned bench. Parents can each do individual portraits with baby, as well as sibling photos. Each photo session can be customized to your preferences. Don’t want cake? No problem. We can skip the cake and do everything else. Your baby’s first birthday portraits can be what you’d like.

family of 3 sitting and smiling
family smiling for first birthday portraits
mom smiling and holding baby girl
family of 3 standing for a family portrait
Parents holding 1 year old for first birthday portraits

Print your images in a beautiful album or frame

Another important consideration is what you’ll want to do with your images. You probably don’t want them sitting on your hard drive. I can design beautiful custom albums or matted prints for you to display in your home. Take a look at my featured products when you come in for your session. Choose your favorite color velvet or linen when you’re here so you can know how you’ll want to spend your print credit. Leave the details up to Ellicott City, baby Photographer, Rebecca Leigh Photography to take your images from start to a finished product.

baby smiling with cake for first birthday portraits
baby and parents with cake
baby smiling with cake
family of 3 sitting together

When you’re done, you’re done 😉

Did I mention that after about 45 minutes, toddlers are done? Even the sweetest, happiest, smiling babies need a break from a long photo session. This cutie had us all laughing when we sat her on the bed for the final photos. Within a few moments, she very nonchalantly leaned back against the pillow and decided to just stay there in this position. It was pretty hilarious! 🙂

baby in white outfit relaxing on a blanket

Rebecca Leigh Photography is a mother of 3 children and Ellicott City, baby photographer. Celebrate your baby’s first birthday with a cake smash photo session.