Babies, Recipes

Healthy Smash Cakes for Baby’s First Birthday

Your baby’s first birthday is a huge milestone. Just think of everything they’ve accomplished in their first year of life: starting to eat solid food, crawling and maybe even taking their first few steps and developing into a person with a personality all their own. And, equally as important, you’ve survived too!

To celebrate, you’ll likely want to throw your baby a party, and introduce them to their first cake! Selecting their first cake can be overwhelming. After all, many conventional birthday cakes are loaded with sugar, fat and sometimes artificial ingredients, from the dyed frosting to the cake batter. Or maybe your little one has dietary restrictions that preclude the use of dairy, peanuts or other ingredients in your cake. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a wonderful birthday celebration with a healthier smash cake for baby.

Tips for Making a Healthy Smash Cake

When looking for a recipe or researching bakeries, keep in mind which ingredients to avoid. Butter, oil and shortening are high in calories and fat, so try substituting them with applesauce, yogurt or pureed prunes—all of which can yield a dense, moist and flavorful cake. Refined sugar and white flour don’t add any nutritional value, so try sweetening with mashed-up bananas instead of sugar, and use whole wheat or oatmeal flour. You could even grind rolled oats in a blender to achieve a powder just like flour.  

Try substituting applesauce, yogurt or pureed prunes for butter, oil and shortening in your cake recipe. This will create a healthier, more nutritious cake.

Smash Cakes with No Added Sugar 

If sugar is your main concern when considering healthy alternatives to first birthday cake, look for a recipe that leaves refined sugar out entirely. This carrot and date cake gets its sweetness and density from dates, raisins and shredded coconut, and tastes quite similar to conventional carrot cake. Or, try out this healthy banana cake with no added sugar; it uses applesauce and bananas for natural sweetness and whole wheat flour for a bit of added nutrition.

Is your one-year-old a chocolate devotee with an adventurous palate? Try out a chocolate cake that uses beets, date paste and applesauce for moisture and sweetness. They’ll love the flavors, and you’ll love the added veggies.

Allergy-Friendly Birthday Cakes

If your child has an allergy to dairy, eggs or gluten, transform this vegan, gluten-free chocolate cake into a smash cake. Almond meal and gluten-free oat flour replace regular flour, and coconut cream whipped cream serves as a great substitute topping for those with dairy-allergies. Another gluten free option: this cake made with vegan buttery spread, gluten-free flour and ripe bananas.

If you’re looking for something that’s free of dairy, wheat, eggs, nuts, soy and sugar, try out this novel “cake” option that uses brown rice for the cake, sweet potatoes as the frosting and corn as the sprinkles. While it’s a lot less sweet than fruit-based versions, it’ll still prove to be super smashable for your little one.

Alternatives to Birthday Cakes for Babies

Keep in mind, too, that plenty of other healthy desserts can stand in if you’re not set on a cake. These oatmeal chocolate chip cookies have the familiarity of the original thanks to brown sugar and chocolate chips, but tahini lowers the saturated fat content and adds a warm, nutty flavor. Or try these coconut flour chocolate chip cookies that rely on coconut sugar for sweetness. The recipe is also heart-healthy, using almond and peanut butter instead of butter.

Special treats for your one-year-old’s birthday party don’t have to be laden with traditional  ingredients to be delicious and memorable for guests. Celebrate your baby’s incredible first year of life—with healthier ingredients.


Katie Klepek

Katie combines her passions—family, food and healthy lifestyle choices—with crafting a personalized experience for Nurture Life customers through all aspects of marketing. She has over 13 years of experience in business, communications and event planning, having previously co-founded the successful event production company Reinventing Events. Katie’s diverse background allows her to effectively combine communication and organization skills to develop, plan and deliver results. Katie attended the University of Illinois at Chicago. When she’s not spreading her cheer at Nurture Life, Katie can be found spending time with her daughter, running marathons and co-hosting a horror movie podcast with her husband.