So you’ve got to the end of a crazy first year and your baby is about to turn one.  You might have been coming to visit all year for newborn and Joey Club photo shoots or you might just have booked in for a first birthday session.  Either way, there’s some stuff you’ll definitely need to bring along, some stuff I might have at the studio and then some things that are optional but you might like.

Things You’ll Definitely Need

Number 1: A Cake.  Yep, you’re definitely going to need one of those and it can be as fancy or as simple as you like.  When it comes to cake though, I don’t recommend chocolate as it looks a bit odd in the finished photos.  The squishier the better – you can read all about my top cake tips here for the full low down on what I recommend. 

Number 2: A Towel. If you’re tub splashing as well as cake smashing.  Bubble bath is fun too, especially if you’re into bubble bears and hats. It’s not obligatory though has I know it doesn’t work for some babies with sensitive skin.

Number 3: Wet Wipes.   These are essential for a quick clean up between smash and splash as babies are a lot nicer to get undressed if you can at least de-sticky their hands first!

Things You Might Like

Party Hats.   Yes we all know what it’s like trying to convince a baby to keep a hat or headband on so it might not last the distance but it is cute.  Who knows? They might be so distracted by the prospect of cake that they forget they have it on.

Favourite Toys. We don’t let these get involved in the cake smash, although I did have a Jellycat bunny that took a bath once, but they are cute to have at the clean part of the shoot before the smash begins. It’s always fun to look back and remember how important those first toys were and how much they were loved.

Balloons.  These is a funny one because sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t.  They can look super pretty but I’d recommend helium ones otherwise they are just  too tempting sitting on the floor and your baby will likely spend more time crawling after them than sitting for photos.  The number ‘1’ balloons are gorgeous but in a photo shoot they are usually a lot taller than your baby so you don’t get to see all of them in the pictures which is a waste.  Plus they are foil so they reflect the studio lights.  Plain round balloons in any colour that suits your scheme work best and you want to tie them to your weight with a very short string (so they’re almost on the ground) otherwise you just get string in your pictures and the balloons themselves are out of shot.

Cake Smash Outfits.  People have their little ones cake smash in all sorts of outfits or just in a nappy, although swim nappies or pants over the top do look nicer than just the nappy on its own.  Still, as cake smashes have got more popular, there’s a wide range of outfits that are commercially available.  Printed and personalised in some cases, there’s some super cute stuff about. Just remember if you’re ordering on eBay to check the delivery dates you can end up waiting a more or so for outfits making their way over from China.

Things I Have at the Studio

Bunting. My bunting collection is legendary and I add to it all the time but you might have your own that you want to bring along and you’re welcome to of course.  With sets that spell names or ‘happy birthday’ etc, bear in mind that you won’t see the whole string in every shot where the image is cropped in to focus on your baby. It’s not necessarily a problem but just something to think about when you’re choosing.

Bubble Machine.  I have one of these at the studio that runs on batteries which saves a lot of puffing.  Bubbles, I find, can go one of two ways. You either get an amazing shot of a smiling child surrounded in a cloud of bubbles or you have child frowning furiously at these things that keep popping on them.  It’s usually immediately apparent which way it’s going to go so we can use it if works for us.

Little Wooden Spoons / Trowels.  These can be handy for the cake smash. Sometimes babies don’t like the feel of cake in their hands but they’re more than happy to dig in with a trowel or batter it with a spoon so you’re welcome to borrow those if you’d like to.

So there you have it, keep it simply or throw the birthday book at it.  Always great photos though!