Smash Cakes That Aren’t Loaded With Junk

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 everyone.

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 everyone.

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.

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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. They also have a higher melt point so won’t melt in the heat if you have an outdoor party. You could do a blend of butter and this organic saturated fat shortening for a great frosting combo!

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!

Baby Faith’s Smash Cake 🙂

I thought I’d share what I made for Faith’s big 1st birthday party!

Baby Faith eating her smash cakes first birthday organic natural pink girl healthy 1st smashcake

For the cake, I used Simple Mills vanilla cake mix and made into two small, stacking cakes using these pans. For the frosting, I used this recipe. I used this natural food dye to make such a pink frosting!

Smash cakes first birthday organic natural pink girl healthy 1st smashcake

For the cupcakes, I used this gluten-free vanilla cake mix, which is the best tasting I have found and topped with fun sprinkles like these.

Smash cakes first birthday cupcakes cup cake organic natural pink girl healthy

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!

Smash Cakes – Watermelon Cake

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.

Smash Cakes – Raspberry Apple Gluten-Free Cake

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.

Smash Cakes – Paleo Cake

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!

Smash Cakes – Blueberry Banana Cake

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.

Smash Cakes – Healthy Chocolate Cake

Get the recipe. 


Carrot Cake (Raw, Vegan)

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

Smash Cakes – Raw Carrot Cake

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. 

Smash Cakes – Strawberry

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.

Smash Cakes – Beet Chocolate Cake

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.

Smash Cakes – Coconut Flour Cake

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.

Smash Cakes – Everything Free Cupcakes

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!

Smash Cake – Griffin’s Lion 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.

Genevieve Howland

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 130,000,000 views, she helps mothers and moms-to-be lead healthier and more natural lives.


  1. I can’t find the receipt for the frosting in the 1st cake. The link says the women has the recipe in her book. It’s not listed 🙁 any help would be great, was planning to buy the ingredients today for my daughter’s 1st birthday!

    • Nvm, I was reading the recipe in reader view, and apparently it’s a picture when I took off the reader view it was available. Sorry to bother you thank you so much for sharing. I’m going to make the same cake you made for faith for my baby number two.

  2. I’m really surprised so many people are surprised to see options that aren’t perfect. They’re better options than the norm. Choose accordingly. Nothing done once a year will make or break baby’s health. Except for V’s! 🙃 Thanks Genevieve!

  3. I made the blueberry banana cake and it was such a disappointment. Very chewy.

  4. Hello! I loved this article but was a little surprised to see TWO chocolate cakes mentioned. Despite no refined sugar, cocoa has caffeine in it so that’s not good for little ones!

    I found some other great ones online by searching but thanks for spearheading this effort, Genevieve! I’m in the process of testing them for my son. I made this one and like it but might try another one to compare.

  5. Books

  6. As an alternative, my son’s “smash cake” was an acai bowl!

  7. Thanks for giving a great experience. The Paleo Palate Cafe makes delicious and sugar-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free, keto Desserts in Toronto. Try our unbelievably delicious line of healthy cakes, muffins, bread, and more.

  8. I’m surprised to see marshmallows suggested as a cake alternative, as they’re a choking hazard until age 4 unless baked into something.

  9. Actually I was very happy to read the recent recommendations by the US advisory panel, which says no amount of added sugar for babies. Maple and honey are added sugars! I am seriously considering skipping the whole cake thing for the first birthday as I also avoid it myself. The only good idea here uscthe fruit and watermelon cake

  10. Thank you for your sharing and all the good ideas for healthier options for the smash cakes! My baby will be 1 yr old in January, so I’ve been looking for if there’s a better option for his first cake! I do have a question about the smash cake you made. I looked at the recipe you used for the buttercream, but did you reduce sugar or substitute with something else in your buttercream or you used the original recipe that she gives? Thank you for the read!

  11. Thank u so much for all ur inputs Genev.
    I have been ur follower from the tim I got pregnant. My baby is 11 months now.
    Thank u for all the cake smashing ideas for shanvi’s first birthday

  12. 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. ?

      • Super appreciate this article, I have been thinking about how to simplify a smash cake with no refined sugar, super helpful!

        One note: oats are definitely a grain. Especially for those of us who are grain free not by choice but because they tear up our guts that’s an important distinction.

        • Most definitely, if one needs to be grain-free, good idea to stay from Oats. But if one isn’t too sensitive and has reset their gut a bit they may consider giving soaked Oats (at least 7 hours, with am acid like ACV) and then rinsing and cooking them. The soaking, souring or sprouting of grains helps to neutralize the enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid, in turn making the nutrients in the grains available and the grains digestible.
          Worth researching, if one is able to tolerate grains sometimes. 😊
          Thanks for the article, Genevieve!

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