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How to prepare and what to bring to a cake smash photo shoot?

Here at Dream Artsy Photography studio we love being part of your little one' s first birthday memories and what a better way to celebrate the first birthday than a cake smash in style with a yummy cake!

A cake smash is an incredibly fun photo session where your child can enjoy a messy play and get loose on that first cake.

Imagine the face and those little fingers covered in buttercream, all the giggles and smiles captured by an experienced professional photographer - the memories for you to keep, to look back at and to cherish for years to come.


The portrait part

All our signature cake smash sessions include an optional portrait part before the cake which can be done on the same or a different backdrop. It often involves a change of outfit for the baby that can be brought by you or borrowed from the selection of outfits available at our studio.

This is the part where other family members can have their pictures with the baby too as our mini family / baby portrait is included in all full cake smash packages. We will discuss this option during the consultation before your photo shoot and will send you a what to wear guide with tips of how to coordinate your wardrobe.

If you choose not to have a family portrait or think that too many outfit changes might be too much for your little one we can start with a cake right away! We will capture a few quick clean shots before it gets messy and bring the cake in.

The cake smash part

Our cake maker not only matches the cake to your chosen theme, colours and backdrop, she also makes the most delicious cakes! Even if the cake has simplified baby friendly ingredients it is always fresh, soft, easy for your baby to break and tastes just the best.

If the baby has any allergies we can arrange the cake to accommodate the needs or to choose to do a fruit smash or a paint splash instead. If neither of those work for some more food sensitive babies we can even provide a fake but a very real looking cake and have the baby snack on some safe snacks that look similar to a cake instead. You will still have the cutest images to take home and will never know the cake wasn't real!

The bath splash part

Good thing all cake smash sessions include a bath splash time where the baby gets to soak in a warm and soapy water and go home not only with great pictures but all fresh and clean! Usually this is the most favourite part for everyone so even if the baby wasn't very much interested in eating or smashing the actual cake, he / she will most certainly have lots of fun while splashing the water around! We have a selection of bathtubs and large vintage buckets to match all the styles. Along with a regular bubbly bath we can also arrange a milk / milk alternative baby bath spa and a transparent bath tub to go with the white milk too.

It is up to you if you want the baby to wear a nappy suitable for swimming or be naked - we don't mind either and will only take pictures while the baby is sitting in the bath tub which we always make sure that they do due to safety. Do remember to bring a fresh bath towel with you so you can wrap the little one into it after the splash time.


You have already noted the towel but is there anything else you need on the day?

We often say bring baby's favourite toy or a song on your phone. The things the baby loves are great but we keep these treats hidden for the very last minute since the little one would most definitely want to hold onto that toy and will focus on the screen too much rather than interact, have fun with the cake or the water and will get upset if the treats are then taken away.

Since it is a cake smash and we want the baby to smash the cake and have a little taste of it some baby puffs and other little snacks that baby likes and that look similar to the yellow (-ish) cake are really handy. Sticking them into the back of the cake encourages the baby to touch and explore the cake and helps us capture some great pictures even if sometimes the baby is not that much interested in smashing or eating the cake.

A cup or bottle with water nearby in case the baby needs a short break or is thirsty - and trust me, they usually do and who wouldn't be after having the whole cake in front of them for the first time!

Since it is a cake smash session, as it stands in the name itself, letting the baby loose on the cake can sometimes get messy, really messy! Some babies don't quite get the hang of smashing right away so you may need to get your own hands into the cake to get them started. This said a change of clothes for yourself including a new pair of socks is a must in your bag. Regardless of how the baby feels about the cake pretty much all sessions end up with them crawling or running away all covered in icing and cream! What is more, one moment the little one will happily (or not so much!) tuck into the cake, the next he / she might need a cuddle from Mum and that is when a change of clothes come in handy especially if you have already planned a nice day out for some meal after the session!

What we provide with your session

Here is it all summarised again so you can easily check before you leave home.

Our studio prop stash is always growing and what we provide will depend on your chosen theme / style but this is what is generally included with the session:

  • A customised backdrop from the backdrops already owned or a brand new backdrop where applicable / available

  • A white floor or a floor matching the set up / theme

  • Decor and props like florals, balloons, crates, etc.

  • A selection of optional outfits for a 1 year old matching the backdrop / theme

  • A matching cake stand - mostly wooden and baby friendly

  • A wooden spoon

  • A styled cake* (subject to allergies) or a fake cake or other alternatives

  • Wooden letters and / or a cake topper "ONE" / a personalised cake topper

  • A bathtub with warm water and some bath bubbles (you are welcome to bring your own especially if the baby has allergies)

What you provide

  • A styled cake.*

*The cake is optional, it is paid by you when booking the session and is treated as provided by you but we take all the hassle away and order it at your request and on your behalf from a third party cake maker, and get it delivered to the studio. Please discuss any ingredients, allergies and concerns with us or the cake maker directly. If you want to bring your own cake it is welcome but is subject to some "no go" ingredients / colouring and needs to match your chosen backdrop / theme and fit our cake stands.

  • Baby snacks, puffs (yellow (-ish) in colour)

  • Baby's water

  • A towel

  • A change of clothes for yourself and the baby

  • Bath bubbles (optional, can be provided)

  • Swimming nappy (optional)

  • Some pain relief if the baby is teething (ideally just before the session)

  • A favourite toy

  • A favourite song / show on your phone / tablet

When to book the session for?

Some customers choose to have their baby's cake smash session on the actual date of their first birthday. Some want the images for the party invites or social media shares on the day so would book a session for around 3 weeks before the date to allow enough time for the editing process.

This said, cake smash sessions are best booked well in advance to allow enough time to prepare and style so contacting us at least 2-3 months before the date is perfect! We would often customise the backdrop and outfits for your session, and source out any props we might not already have in the studio.

We can style the set up to match your party theme or you can choose any other theme / style you like. This includes careful planning and styling and often lengthy production and delivery times so booking early is essential for a stress free and timely session.

Once booked you will received a detailed cake smash session guide and a questionnaire so we can start customising your unique portrait session right way.

If you missed out and are booking last minute do not worry! You are still covered, although it may mean we will have to narrow down the themes / colours to the ones we already have available and hope for the best when looking for a last minute cake smash cake.

Even if your baby has turned one a month or two ago or is turning two it is never too late for a cake smash! Remember, they will never be that little again and 5 or 10 years from now you will be most grateful that you got yourself together and did it rather than missed at all.

Best timing?

We start all sessions at 10am but are flexible and could move it to 11am if that suits baby's nap times better. The sessions can be moved to 10am or 11am closer to the date when you know baby's nap patters better.

Eating before the cake smash session?

By all means do not keep the baby hungry however if the session time is closer to the baby's snack time or if the baby only had half of the snack before the session they will be more interested in trying the cake which is the aim of the session and all those fun filled pictures.

Is there anything else to do or prepare before the cake smash session?

The biggest tip that can be given before any important photo session is to relax! I know it is often easier said than done and we have all been there but the baby can often pick up on stress and how Mum feels, and we want them to come happy, positive, eager to play and enjoy their photo shoot.

It is totally normal to go all Instagram crazy and have multiple outfits in mind and high expectations however remember that it is the baby who runs all the show.

Some babies really love people, new places and mess and would dig into the cake right away while smiling for the camera at the same time, some would be shy or overwhelmed by a new place and new experience and would need some encouragement or even an extra power nap to get to their normal selves.

If it is their first time having something sweet (which usually is!) they might even dislike the taste of the cake and refuse to eat it or go anywhere near the cake at all. It is totally normal and not unusual as every baby is so different!

To help the baby with textures you can give him / her some cold mashed potatoes to eat / play with few times before the session as the texture and the temperature of a cold mashed potato is very similar to a cake buttercream / icing and cake sponge with filling.

To help the little one on the day we need you to have a stress free morning and perhaps to get everyone ready the day or two before - arrange everyone's outfit, iron the shirts and dresses, do your hair the night before and start on make up early.

Please do not get discouraged if the baby does not behave as expected and don't shower us with smiles and laughter on the day. They are experiencing something very new and often would take the job of smashing the cake (or just exploring it gently), new tastes or bubbles and splashing in the bathtub very seriously! We still get to capture beautiful pictures, some smiles and a huge, one in a lifetime, baby's milestone along with his / her personality. One or two crying pictures next to the cake often end up most favourite and make you laugh when looking back at and remembering that sweet face and all the cake drama years later!

Not a fan of the cake?

Not a problem! If for whatever the reason you have decided a cake smash is not for you, do reach out for a chat. We can always arrange something alternative and not less fun at all like a donut smash, paint splash, watermelon, strawberry party or even a pasta fiesta if you like!

To learn more or to schedule a first birthday cake smash for your little one please explore our website and reach out for a chat when you ready. If you ended up on this blog while looking for the cake smash photographer near me or were after a cake smash photographer in West Berkshire, Reading, Newbury and Basingstoke we cover the customers from all West Berkshire, Hampshire, Newbury, Windsor, Slough, Maidenhead, Oxford, Southampton, Swindon and as far as North and West London.

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