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The Complete guide to Cake Smash Sessions for Parents

Updated: Jan 24, 2023

Everything parents will ever need to know about preparing for Cake Smash Photography Sessions.

I love Cake Smash sessions; they are one of my favorites! This is the time when I get to capture babies enjoying all the overwhelming freedom given at once! All those “No”, “do not touch it”, “do not bring it to your mouth”, “be careful” and “stop”, simply do not tend to happen during this photo session.

What happens is a moment of new discoveries being presented to the baby!

Here is a Cake Smash Manual, containing the most Frequently Asked Questions that I have received over time and condensed it all for you to become informed prior to your baby’s photo session.

All copyrights and credits reserved to La Dolce Vita Photography by Layne Fernandes

What is a Cake Smash Photo Session about?

A Smash the Cake or Cake Smash photo session is a milestone celebration of a baby's first birthday.

The smashing a cake craziness arrived at the U.S. based on a Mexican Tradition, called "La Mordida"! During "La Mordida" the birthday boy or girl's face is shoved into the birthday cake during first bite. "Mordida" in Spanish, means bribe, but in Mexican slang it means bite!

Cake Smash fever is now part of America's culture, translated into the poetry of milestone photography when a baby turns 1 or 2 years old.

It is recommended this session to be planned, with your photographer. During this festive milestone celebration, the photographer will be capturing fun and innocent images of a baby exploring and discovering freedom expressed by destroying and tasting a cake. For many babies, this will be their first contact and taste of a delicatessen dessert item.

Why is Cake Smash so important?

The beauty of a Cake Smash session is that we never know what to expect.

The baby may feel shy with all the freedom allowed to play with the cake, while others will have the best time ever playing with texture, tasting, and smashing it in a thousand pieces! It is considered the first time a baby is allowed to experience the taste of freedom for the very first time and his or her sweet reactions while embracing this freedom.

All copyrights and credits reserved to La Dolce Vita Photography by Layne Fernandes

Safety during a Cake Smash Session

During my Smash Sessions, safety always comes first. Baby is 100% of the time, monitored by parents when tasting and playing with his birthday cake. It is a fun milestone to capture and celebrate your baby feeling powerful and independent holding a spoon that represents his/her mark of freedom and feeling good about it!

It is crucial important that your baby has already tried a crumble of cake before or a sugary item before he is introduced to the real deal during the photo session. Many babies do not like sweets, at all. It can be a last-minute disappointment for parents and also keep an open mind that some babies do not even like to touch cakes, and even so they can have the most adorable photos for you to remember later. The untouched cake can be brought home and shared with family members.

Make sure you have tested your baby on a few tiny pieces of sweet items and there won’t be risk of a surprising allergic reaction during the photo session in the studio. For this and other reasons I do not bake any cakes or items on my own and bring them to the session. All my cakes are made by an external bakery.

While some parents choose to go all out and decorate their sets and designed cakes, others choose to keep it very simple and natural. There is no right or wrong. It is all a matter of preference and personal styles. The goal is to have your baby celebrated and experience the most enjoyable time!

What happens during a Cake Smash photo session?

I like to frame my cake smash sessions with my signature work flow, which is a sequence that tells a story, including family, baby, cake smash actions and splash. All in between 1 to 2 hours. I like to use this time frame because at this age, the little ones will likely be a little tired after all the clicks, indicating it’s time to move to another set of fun actions. The cake, itself, is a little pick me up and incentive to play with textures and tastes during the photo session and becoming messy. The photo session can be ended by this point or followed by a warm bubble bath if this what suits parents’ choice.

All copyrights and credits reserved to La Dolce Vita Photography by Layne Fernandes

How to guide a baby during a Smash Session?

Each baby is a different person, and this makes each session so unique.

I have been trained to incorporate safe techniques that entice baby's curiosity during the session, so parents can be prepared for the mess, relax and have fun too!

Why is it recommended to plan a Cake Smash Session in advance?

With all the details that bring a story into reality, cake Smash photo sessions are best recommended when a baby is, confidently, not only sitting on his/her own, but also have mastered the capability of safely handle solid foods!

The best time to have this first-year milestone photography session captured, is around 10 1/2 to 11 months old – right before their actual birthday.

Yes, you heard that right! Before the actual birthday, is when I highly encourage this session to happen!

Some of the reasons are:

· Parents will have all their digital photos and physical products - albums, prints, cards, gifts, wall art - in their possessions, beforehand!

· All their images will be available to, not only, be shared online on the actual day of the celebration but also distribute personalized items as souvenirs to friends, families and other guests during the party and thank you cards. All personalized and matching the first birthday party décor. How special and impressive is that?

· During the actual birthday, parents can gather in their homes and revisit photos, slideshow, prints, albums and spend a peaceful enjoyable time with their baby.

All copyrights and credits reserved to La Dolce Vita Photography by Layne Fernandes

What if I cannot plan for my baby's Cake Smash Photo Session in advance?

There is no right or wrong. Life must be lived in simple ways, without complications. This is why and when parents should hire professional help that can handle the heavy lift on busy parents’ behalf.

Waiting until the last minute to hire a Cake Smash Photographer...

If you tend to wait till last minute as a decision maker, there might be a few points to consider:

Pros: It still can happen but...

Cons: It might not be as you wished for. If you decide to look for a photographer, the day before of baby's actual birthday, chances are, there might not be a way for the photographer to fit you in AND stage the studio for a fairytale smash session. If this is the case, you will have to end up celebrating the first birthday in the studio, a couple of weeks later. It all depends on what is going to be requested for the composition of your set and the conciliation of photographer’s calendar.

All copyrights and credits reserved to La Dolce Vita Photography by Layne Fernandes

Is the cake supplied for my Smash session?

My cakes are petite, white, vanilla. As simple as that!

Our cakes come from an outside bakery.

I make sure to have each of them ordered and picked up by myself, in person. The day before of your session.

In my experience, the best cakes for smash photo sessions are the plain sponge vanilla. They are soft to the touch, crumbly and very easy for little hands to break up.

When parents dream of fancy designed cakes, they are welcome to bring their own, as long as they are not brown or red, for obvious reasons.

What differentiates each cake for each session is how it is going to be paired with the theme with interesting décor.

All copyrights and credits reserved to La Dolce Vita Photography by Layne Fernandes

Clients are allowed and welcome to bring in the cake of their choice as long as it does not come associated with not recommended icing colors. It can be, as fancy as you want. Always refer to correct dimensions for an eye pleasing outcome. I go through all the details with my clients, whenever their desire is to provide their own cake.

Healthy recipes for Cake Smash Sessions

It is possible to offer your baby a healthy first cake experience and I am glad to share a few links with all pre-selected, easy to make, healthy cakes for a successful Smash Session that any mom can adventure herself in the kitchen.

Make, bake and bring it to the studio.

All you have to do is ask me for the link of recipes.

The featured healthy cake below, was homemade by one of our fabulous moms!

All copyrights and credits reserved to La Dolce Vita Photography by Layne Fernandes

The first cake, the first sugary tasting. What else to consider?

I totally understand parenting concerns about the good old villain: sugar! I am a parent and I have been there myself.

Good news! There is more than one solution available and easily reachable for this problem!

There are several healthier cake recipes, in my “Smash database”, that I have shared with parents, and they have adventured themselves to bake the cake on their own.

Another alternative is the use of fruits: watermelon, apples, avocados and even lemons!

Foods like white spaghetti, can make a memorable party as well! Nowadays you can even find gluten free vegan doughnuts!

What is the recommended size for a Smash Cake?

The best recommended perfect size for a Smash Photo Session in the studio is a 6 inches round cake. It might have 2 or 3 layers of frosty or not. Anything smaller than 6 inches won't look as good and anything larger will become oversized.

How long does a session normally last?

Cake Smash sessions, in the studio, last between 45 minutes up to 2 hours, normally. It depends on packages and options included on your session.

Some sessions are simple and straight to the point only with a bath celebrating the occasion without a cake. Those are normally moms concerned about sugar intake and does not really want to have the cake replaced by baby's favorite fruit, for example. Other sessions, including the cake and a lukewarm splash bath, may last around 2 hours.

The liquid soap provided is baby Johnson and Johnson’s. Parents are welcome to bring the bath soap of their choice.

All copyrights and credits reserved to La Dolce Vita Photography by Layne Fernandes

Can I bring arts and crafts to a Cake Smash Session?

Normally parents do not need to worry about anything! This is why I am here, with all my trainings and years of experience planning, organizing, and photographing smash sessions for families. I love taking care of all the details for my clients. I make sure everything has been thoughtfully planned and coordinated.

In rare instances parents ask to provide items of their own, such as props, handmade banners and other hand-crafted items they already plan on using after the photo session at their baby's first birthday party. Whenever this happens, I encourage parents to select our Minimalist package and having the set decorated on their own.

Many times, certain home crafted items won’t coordinate well with the set palette and the results won’t be as expected.

To guarantee an authentic artist expression for your timeless experience, everything is planned, agreed, and coordinated with client’s expectations beforehand.

An heirloom toy, wooden toy, matching the set, or an outfit color-coordinated with the theme, knitted by grandma is welcome!

I love to discuss and collect details during the consultation and planning the process before I have them described in our contract.

What can I bring (to reduce) my cost?

There is a reason that you are hiring a professional photographer, with a studio and high-tech equipment, for your baby's first birthday to be professionally captured for you. You saw those beautiful Pinterest images and they inspired you for a reason!

You may bring one or another item to the session, heirloom outfit or single toy, but there are important elements to be provided by your photographer for the ultimate look and composition of the set aligned with the time and talent of the specialized photographer. It is very much appreciated that you choose the right package aligned with your budget and considerate respect for all the work and specialized education brought by your photographer.

Cake Smash Decorations for minimalist families.

Decorations can vary from themed décor to simple accents, such as bunting banners in neutral tones, made from burlap, shabby chic patterns and tonalities, single tone patterns.

Parents who desire to bring those items to the Smash Session, need to notify photographer in advance, otherwise these items won’t be supplied by the studio.

The reason behind having a minimalist Smash Session is tied to the non-preference for embellished items and I want to make sure the session remains exclusive and unique for each client.

Whenever balloons, bunting banners, pompoms, blankets are incorporated to minimalist packages, they came from client’s home, and they should not take much time of the duration of the session to hang on the wall or backdrop stand. All items, not primarily incorporated to the packages, must be discussed with the photographer ahead of time and become a part of the Agreement, Contract.

All copyrights and credits reserved to La Dolce Vita Photography by Layne Fernandes

Do you provide baby outfits?

My home-studio has neutral and basic outfits for the baby in case parents end up forgetting theirs at home or anything else happens. In this case, I am here for emergencies and rescues! Other than that, only my top package comes with the outfit matching the theme of the session. However, most babies are photographed in two outfits: a first outfit prior to smashing the cake, followed by the smash attire, differentiated between boys and girls.

Attires for baby boys: jeans, suspenders and bow tie, overalls and/or party hat.

Attires for baby girls: bloomers, tutu skirts, party hat, crown, bows, ribbons that can enhance and accessorize the final look.

Remember that babies are babies, and they look amazing just how they are!

Should you need ideas and inspirations for baby’s first birthday outfits, I have links and resources ready to go that are meant to bring clarity and help in no time!

I do not recommend babies to be changed more than twice during the session, as their attention span is short, and they can get upset or cranky. We do not want to see a cranky baby, so I do not suggest more than two different outfits in all!

Regarding Parents: I do not provide outfits for parents to wear during Cake Smash Sessions.

Although, I have prepared and provided suggestions on how to coordinate colors and looks for parents who want to be photographed prior to baby’s session. Parent’s garments are part of client’s personal closet.

What should immediate family wear before the Smash Session?

If it is important for parents to be photographed with their baby prior to the actual Smash Session, my recommendation for outfits is to be color coordinated.

I have created an Outfit Inspiration Guide to share with parents, as well as online shopping resources for clothing, where moms can find beautiful dresses and have them delivered to their homes in no time!

All copyrights and credits reserved to La Dolce Vita Photography by Layne Fernandes

How many times can I change my baby’s outfits?

My advice, suggestion and recommendation is: “no more than twice!”.

Baby’s attention span is short, and they can get upset or cranky.

We do not want to see a cranky baby, so I do not suggest more than two different outfits in all during a Smash Session.

What should I bring from home for the Cake Smash Session?

It is important to consider the chances and possibilities of the session ending up in a holly molly heck of a mess!

It is requested and recommended that parents bring from home:

· Sippy cup

· Pacifier

· A couple of towels for parents

· Extra change of clothes for parents

· Baby snacks

· Feeding spoon for your homemade food.

· Bottle with water ready to be mixed with formula.

· Mother’s pumped milk in bottle.

· Medication, if needed.

What is the splash bath for a Cake Smash Session?

Splash or bubble bath is offered after the holly molly heck of a mess has happened and one of my tubs is offered, and coordinated with the theme of the Smash Session, with lukewarm water and a few drops of Johnsons & Johnsons liquid soap. This way baby goes back home clean and smelling delicious!

For babies with sensitive skin, please bring your own bubble bath from home. Otherwise the splash bath is offered with no soap, just with plain water at a comfortable temperature checked and approved by mom.

All copyrights and credits reserved to La Dolce Vita Photography by Layne Fernandes

How do I remove icing from fabrics, towels or baby blankets?

Icing is a sugary saturated fat item, and it washes out easily.

If, for any reason, clothes are caught by icing, there are two options to have fabrics clean again: You can either have it soaked in water with a few drops of Dawn dish soap, cutting the oils from the icing, or use Dreft Pediatrician's recommended liquid soap for babies.

Important Advice for a successful Smash the Cake Session

If for any instance or circumstances your baby wakes up the day of the photo shoot with a fever, we will reschedule!

Sick babies aren’t happy babies and everyone's safety, comfort, and peace of mind, always come first in my studio!

Do not overthink or stress about the smash session process.

I will be here to guide parents on each step of the process. I will make sure to capture the sweetest portraits of your little prince or princess! This is the main reason you are hiring me as your photographer, and I’ve got this for you!

In conclusion, I hope this F.A.Q. blog helped answer your questions and brought you clarity as you choose what you want your baby’s cake smash to look like. I am always here to help you brainstorm ideas and create something unique to tell your story.

I am specialized in creating magic and enchanted ways by putting together the most beautiful sets that bring fantasy into reality and your baby is the main character of a fabulous story telling moment!

I love my clients to pieces and look forward to capturing this special milestone for your little one!

All images are hand edited by me, with a soft touch of magic, glitter and flare.

I would love to connect with you on social and stay in touch! Make sure to find me on

Facebook and Instagram!

Follow along, tag and comment for more cheer in your life season.

I can be reached anytime via email: or website:

Phone: 720.531.3111

Office hours: Mon-Fri 10:30 am ~ MT - 5 pm, only please. Saturdays 10:30 a.m. ~ 2 p.m.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask!

Let’s create magical memories together!

Layne Fernandes - Photographer – Owner – Cake Smash Specialist in Denver, CO.

All copyrights and credits reserved to La Dolce Vita Photography by Layne Fernandes

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