Looking for first birthday cake ideas? These all-natural smash cakes are just as fun as other sugar- and dye-laden recipes, but so much better for both baby and the rest of your party guests.

Smash Cakes That Aren’t Loaded With Junk

Oh, Pinterest! From pregnancy announcements and gender reveals to newborn photo shoots there are thousands of gorgeous and inspiring how-tos to give us parents ideas. So as baby’s first year approaches, we scoured Pinterest yet again to find the healthiest, most natural Smash Cakes to serve to our little one (and guests!).

What is a Smash Cake?

The smash cake is baby’s first cake that he (or she) gets to smash and “eat” to celebrate his first birthday.

Many mamas will also make a second cake (or cupcakes) to serve to their guests as they probably don’t want to eat a cake that’s been finger food for baby. 🤣

A smash cake is baby’s first “treat” and many natural mamas want to give their babies the healthiest, most natural cake that’s still fun and festive.

How to Serve Smash Cakes

  1. When it’s time for dessert and a rendition of Happy Birthday, place baby in his highchair.
  2. Get your camera ready. The cake smash is a can’t-miss photo opportunity to celebrate baby’s first year of life… and their first taste of a treat.
  3. Put the smash cake in front of baby, while guests look on as she encounters the cake.
  4. Encourage baby to dig into cake. Some babies will just stare at smash cake and have no idea what to do. You can show your child how to “dig in” by starting the smash. Your child will then catch on. Other babies will have no problem diving right in.
  5. Serve another dessert—a larger cake, cupcakes, or cookies—to the rest of the guests.

Smart Swaps for Healthy Smash Cakes

Despite the dangers of too much sugar, some parents are willing to let their kids get a taste of the sweet stuff on special occasions. Others prefer not to go there, choosing to skip refined sugar altogether. And still others fall somewhere in the middle.

With that in mind, here’s a look at some smart swaps you can make when baking smash cakes.

Use stable, saturated fats

Use saturated fats in your smash cakes, like ghee, butter, and coconut oil, instead of liquid oils. Did you know that breastmilk’s calories are comprised of 50% saturated fat? This special lipid literally feeds a baby’s brain so don’t be shy using this fat in your cooking. It’s also a very stable fat that can be cooked at high temperatures without oxidizing unlike most liquid oils.

Use natural sugars from fruit, trees, or bees

Another way to make your smash cakes healthier? Swap refined sugar—white and brown sugar, dextrose, high fructose corn syrup, etc.—for natural sweeteners. Think: raw honey, real maple syrup, date sugar and ripe fruit. (Yes, at 12 months of age, babies can finally have honey!)

Robert Lustig, professor of pediatrics and member of the Institute for Health Policy Studies at the University of California, San Francisco told CNN:

There is no one person who wouldn’t benefit by eliminating added sugars from their diets.

And children, in particular, can benefit from the swap. Lustig’s research showed that when added sugar was eliminated from obese children’s diet, every aspect of their metabolic health improved—blood pressure, triglycerides, cholesterol, glucose intolerance, and more.

Smash Cakes Made With Wholesome Ingredients

OK, now it’s time to dive into some healthy smash cake recipes! You’ll see that we have some recipes:

  • with and without flour,
  • with and without natural sugars,
  • with and without animal products,
  • and with and without gluten.

Pick whichever one works for your baby!

Watermelon Cake (Vegan & Free of Sugar, Gluten, Flour)

A surefire way to ensure your baby’s first birthday cake is on the healthier side? Opt for a tower of fruit rather than a traditional cake. This happy watermelon cake is perfect for a summer birthday baby!

Gluten-Free Cake

Though there isn’t much research to suggest kids who digest gluten well would benefit from going gluten-free (in fact some experts think a completely gluten-free diet for generally healthy kids could have adverse effects), however, many kids with ADHD, autism, and gastrointestinal issues do better with a gluten free diet.

Paleo Cake (AIP-friendly, No Dairy/Eggs/Nuts/Seeds/Sugar)

This cake is for the health nut, hard core mama 🙂 Loaded with avocado and veggies, plus it has no sweetener and tons of saturated fats.

Get the recipe. 

Blueberry Banana Cake (Contains Wheat & Dairy)

A nourishing cake recipe made of real ingredients that grandma used to use. And the pretty purple frosting doesn’t have a drop of food coloring in it—that gorgeous hue is from nothing but blueberries!

Get the recipe. 

Healthy Chocolate Cake (Grain-free)

This rich, moist chocolate cake looks like it’s straight from the bakery window, but has no yucky processed ingredients. Almond and coconut flour make this treat grain-free, and pure maple syrup means no refined sugar.

Get the recipe. 

Coconut Flour Cake & Buttercream Frosting (Grain & Sugar Free)

“Babies have very immature digestive systems, so to speak, so when we introduce something that’s more of a refined grain, that takes a lot more energy from the digestive system to try to break it down and also to extract the nutrients,” Sara Peternell, a master nutrition therapist in Denver, Colorado, told Fox News. This cake has only delicious, real food ingredients that won’t disrupt baby’s developing digestive system. 

Get the recipe. 

Carrot Cake (Raw, Vegan)

Three tiers of raw ingredients make this cake a total showstopper and an uber healthy treat. 

Get the recipe. 

Strawberry Cake (Vegan & Grain and Sugar Free)

Nourishing oats are gentle on digestion and full of fiber, magnesium, iron, and zinc with no added gluten. A flavorful strawberry puree lends that hint of sweetness you expect from cake. 

Get the recipe. 

Beet Chocolate Cake (Grain/Gluten/Refined Sugar Free)

This flour-free recipe contains nourishing eggs, coconut oil and natural sweeteners. It’s star performer is beets! Serve with homemade frosting or straight up.

Get the recipe. 

Coconut Flour Smash Cake (Grain, Dairy, and Sugar Free)

Rich in lauric acid, the same fat found abundantly in breastmilk, this simple recipe combines coconut, bananas and mineral-rich blackstrap molasses for a tasty treat.

Get the recipe. 

Oat Flour Cupcakes (Free of Everything!)

Instead of a smash cake, how about a smash cupcake? These tinier treats are still fun to smash, but a more appropriate size for baby. Plus, these cupcakes are free of everything, making them an especially great for kiddos with several food sensitivities.

Get the recipe. 

Easiest Smash Cake EVA!

Of all the smash cakes, this is the easiest by far! Buy a Manna Bread in the Cinnamon Date flavor. (Available in the freezer section of Whole Foods.) Defrost it. Take it out of packaging and put it on plate. Spread with natural frosting and—voilà—your baby’s first smash cake!

(This is what I did for Griffin’s first birthday cake. I used this frosting recipe.)

Think Outside the Box

Smash cakes don’t have to be cakes at all. It’s less about what you’re serving and more about marking a fun milestone for your baby. If baking and decorating a cake sounds like a lot of work, try another treat. You can make “cakes” out of homemade jello or marshmallows. Or you could celebrate with a batch of healthy doughnuts. Try not to stress — be present and enjoy your family’s special day. 🎂

How About You?

How did you celebrate your baby’s first birthday? Did you make a smash cake? Which smash cakes look best? Share in the comments below.

  1. Thank you for this post I’m looking for a healthy smash cake recipe! I was looking for links to these delicious cake recipes in the post

    • You’re welcome Lachelle! Just click the “Get the recipe” link beneath each photo in the post for the full recipe. 😘


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About the Author

Genevieve Howland is a childbirth educator and breastfeeding advocate. She is the bestselling author of The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth and creator of the Mama Natural Birth Course. A mother of three, graduate of the University of Colorado, and YouTuber with over 75,000,000 views, she helps mothers and moms-to-be lead healthier and more natural lives.

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