by Wes Fessler
A baby's first birthday is a special and cherished occasion; a joy to celebrate in a memorable way. Whether it is a large party with lots of friends and family, or a small event, it is a time deserving of excitement and happiness for all involved.
It is exciting to see the progress a baby makes in the first year of development. From sleepless nights of puzzlement over unexplainable crying, to mobility, smiles, and babytalk that begins to resemble the language spoken in the home -- the cuteness never stops getting cuter. A baby's first birthday is in many ways, a celebration of a baby's graduation to toddlerhood, and an opportunity to dote upon an adorable young person's development into a new stage of wonder.
While it may seem like common sense, it is important to be sure that the event is preserved for the future. It doesn't matter how many balloons are filled, or how many presents a baby receives, unless the child is able to enjoy the moment in years ahead with photos or video recordings of the party.
There are few people in this world who can remember their first birthday, and while your child may be an exception to this rule, it is best to make certain that cameras are charged and that tapes or memory sticks are ready to go when the time comes (then again the mobile phone can always be used as a backup).
The main objective of a first birthday party should be to please your baby, which can be a reward in itself. While it is not always easy to keep a one-year-old blisfully content for the duration of a party, providing activities that yield happiness is certainly a great idea. New toys will provide a few minutes of fascination and happiness, so it can be a good idea to allow the child to play with a few of the newly discovered treasures.
The big one year date is a time when it is generally considered safe to add new edible goods to a baby's diet: specifically cake, ice cream, and milk. If your baby has not shown sensitivity to allergies from dairy products, and your child's doctor agrees that it is safe, a first birthday party is a great time to introduce the "good stuff" to your child's diet.
This is an opportunity to provide true pleasure and a new experience for your one-year-old, not to mention that it is an entertaining moment for guests at the party. A popular activity for the occasion is to make or buy a special cake that is just for your baby and no one else (a second cake for everyone else should also be provided for the party). This birthday cake or "mash cake" is generally presented to the baby (in a high chair), while everyone watches in anticipation. The child gets a hold of the cake with clean bare hands, and eventually delivers a first bite to a highly excited set of taste buds. The fun of a mash cake is in seeing the baby's reaction to the new treat and of course in allowing the baby to make a sugary mess in the process. In the same sitting, it can also be fun to add milk and ice cream, which are also a new pleasure to experience on a first birthday. Milk can be given in a "sippy" cup or bottle, and ice cream should be spoon fed. Again...don't forget photos and video to document the indulgence of the mash cake event.
While there are few pleasures that will exceed the enjoyment of the mash cake experience, it is also a good idea to allow some additional, known pleasures for the baby's first birthday. This can be anything from allowing the baby to play with a special toy, to making silly faces that elicit laughter from your child. Parents know best what brings joy to their children, and this is one you'll have to come up with on your own. Try something that will demonstrate the cute things that your baby has learned. This day is all about your one-year-old, so once you've cleaned up your child from the cake mashing, find something fun to entertain your baby and your guests.