You have probably seen the pictures of cute little babies sitting in front of a cake, smashing it to bits.  They are covered in frosting, and they are setup in a cute little scene with props and balloons.  But you may be asking yourself, how did this become a thing?  What are the origins of the cake smash photoshoot?

I love a cake smash session just as much as the next person.  I did one for my child, and was over the moon with how the images turned out.  However, I couldn’t help but wonder how this trend started?  Who decided that we should let a toddler wreak havoc on a cake and document the process?  There are so many different facets of a birthday, so how did this one take center stage?

I did some research into how this recent trend developed.  While I couldn’t find a lot of information out there, but there was some data I could use to understand this concept better.  Plus I also had my own theories of how this became a trend, so I included them as well (got to get to that 1,200 word count, am I right fellow bloggers?).  

If you are planning your own cake smash session and would like some general information on how to plan a session, please see my article Comprehensive Guide to Cake Smash Sessions.

White smash cake with candle

Mexican Tradition of Mordida

There is are several birthday traditions in Mexico, one of which is called Mordida.  Mordida translates to “bite” in English.  Mordida is where the birthday boy or girl’s hands are tied behind their back and their face is shoved into the cake, usually by a parent.  As this happens, the other partygoers yell “Mordida!”.  It is considered good luck for the birthday person to take a bite out of the cake in this fashion.

There are some differences between Mordida and the photoshoot-cake smash that is going on.  From the research I did, it did not appear that the Mordida was limited to just the first birthday.  Also, the birthday person was prevented from using their hands at all during the smashing.   However, this could be one of the origins of the cake smash as we know it today. 

Cake Smash in recent times

Taking pictures of your one-year old eating cake for the first time is hardly new.  Many albums are filled with images taken in the 70’s and 80’s of little ones getting their faces covered with sugary goodness.  However, I was unable to find exactly when it became popular to turn this event into a photo shoot.  It appears it has been within the last decade that the trend took off. 

What I could find is that the trend started in America.  Parents would do these cake smash sessions before the child’s birthday and use the images on the child’s birthday invites.  Another reason to do the smash before the child’s birthday was to give them a chance to taste cake for the first time.  This way when there was an audience, they wouldn’t be completely overwhelmed with sugar and people.

As the years go by, the setups become more elaborate and creative.  Parents and photographers alike continue think of new ways to stand out. 

White cake with sprinkles

Documenting Milestones as a whole

Although I couldn’t find much information on the origin of the cake smash photoshoot, I did have my own theory about how it started.  It could also be that the origins of the cake smash photoshoot lie in the larger phenomenon of tracking all your child’s milestones.  While baby books and growth charts have been around for many years, technology has made it so much easier to keep track of everything. 

Photos?  It used to be you would have to go dig out a camera from somewhere in order to document your child’s achievement. By the time that happened, the moment probably would have passed.  And if you did manage to capture the event, you would have to wait for the pictures to come back from the developer to see if it turned out.  Now you can use your phone to snap a picture, and see right away if the image turned out.

Recording events? You can now make a note on your phone of the date and event so you can latter record it in their baby book.  There are also a ton of apps you can get to help document your child’s milestones.

All this to say, tracking all milestones for your baby has become so much easier and popular!  There are thousands of Pins on Pinterest dedicated to helping document your child’s milestones.  Some other milestones that people go all out for are:

  • Documenting each month of their first year
  • Milestone activities (first steps, first tooth, etc.)
  • First holidays.

All of these events have taken on new meaning in the last decade.  With Pinterest, parents can easily find a way to document these events in creative and unique ways. 

Take for example Halloween.  It used to be that a parent would just take a picture of their child in their costume.  Not posed, no particular background.  Just a kid standing wherever there was decent light.  Now kids are posed in scenic areas, holding pumpkins and cute little signs. Parents use a peg board and create clever little sayings like “I am boo-tiful.”  These images then go up on Facebook or Instagram for posterity.  Other parents see the images and get inspired to do something similar.  Thus more ideas are generated.

The cake smash photoshoot has developed along with these other milestone trends.  It is not uncommon for parents to use professional photographers to help document the newborn stage and holiday’s, so professionally documenting the first birthday was a natural step.  The cake smash photoshoot can give you so many milestone in one: First take of sugar, what they looked like at one, what their interest were, and more.

White cake and pumpkin

Newest Traditions

Recently, cake smash photoshoots have been used for more than just one-year old’s.  It is now common to see photoshoots for any toddler aged child.  Sometimes even through preschool and kindergarten!

Another group that has embraced cake smash sessions is adults.  If someone is hitting a milestone birthday, like 30 or 40, a cake smash photoshoot has become a celebration option!  It is a fun way to take the stigma out of hitting an age that has been historically considered “old.”  

Whatever the original traditions of the cake smash were, the trend has taken on a vibe of its own.  You can search images on Google or Pinterest and find a plethora of parents who have decided to have cake smash photo shoot for their own little ones.  In the near future, I can see these photoshoots continuing to grow and change as people come up with new and creative ways to celebrate their child’s birthday.

Other articles

Thank you for checking out my article on the origins of the cake smash photoshoot!  Want to find out more about cake smash sessions?  Please check out my other articles!

Outfit Guide – Cake Smash Photo Shoot (Coming Soon)

Preparing for your Cake Smash photo Session (Coming Soon)

Cake Smash Photo Shoot Guide

Location Guide – Cake Smash Photo Shoot (Coming Soon)