Advice about a First Birthday Cake

Parent Q&A

  • My daughter is having her first birthday coming up and I've had a hard time finding anyone in the north bay area (berkeley/oakland) that makes sugar-free "smash" cakes. Anyone have any suggestions??? Or am I going to have to attempt to make one - eeek... not the best baker!... But, if anyone has a good suggestion for recipes, maybe I'll have to go that direction... 



    Not sure where you could get one made, but I've made banana bread without added sugar, and it's pretty great. You can use a recipe like this one, just don't add the sugar. If you want it a little sweeter, add an extra banana or some applesauce. If you want frosting, you could just whip some cream, or cream cheese/whipped cream mixture (block of cream cheese, pint of heavy cream whipped together). Good luck! 

    We just celebrated my son's first birthday with sugar free muffins from Nabolom. I'm not sure whether they would be able to do a cake, but we served them with whipped cream and he was thrilled.

    My wife made a "Simple Mills" brand cake... use their cake mix, she did banana and chocolate. Their brand is paleo, so it's grain free and only uses coconut sugar (low glycemic) She made muffins to be like cupcakes, but you could make as a sheet cake. Tastes great and packed with protein instead of sugar because of all the nut flours. Can buy at Whole Foods. Happy bday :)

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Cake for 1- year old multi-allergic baby

Sept 2008

Hi, I have a 1 yr old who is allergic to wheat, dairy, nuts, eggs, soy, corn and barley. He just turned one so we are celebrating his birthday. Is there somewhere i can get cake which he can eat too? One maybe made of rice flour. Please suggest. Thanks, RS

Mariposa Bakery in Oakland is an all gluten-free bakery with a walk-in store front open to the public. They have cookies, bars, breads, bagels, muffins, pizza and even cake. Gluten-free means free of all gluten containing grains: wheat, barely, rye, spelt, kamut, and some oats. They have some items that are dairy-free, but you will need to contact them and let them make suggestions based on your child's dietary restriction: Rice flour cake is very tricky as it is usually made with some kind of eggs to help hold it together. You might have better luck with finding cookies or bars without eggs and butter in them. 3loons

Judy Chadwick with True Confections makes fabulous cakes and can easily accommodate allergies to make a delicious cake everyone will enjoy geraldine

I just posted about Mariposa Bakery and decided that they probably don't have what you need. You need an ''allergen-free cake''. Most likely you will have to bake it yourself. I recommend checking out these sites for info on products, recipes, etc: You might also try the brand new giant Whole Foods market in Oakland to see if they carry any allergen-free cake mixes. 3loons

Is there a dairy-and-soy-free ice cream that your baby can eat? If so, let it get a little soft, press it into a cake pan or other mold of your choice, and re-freeze until hard. Add a candle and call it cake! I guess it's kind of an ice cream cake. We did that for my son when he turned one, and of course he didn't know the difference. It allows for those cute messy photos, too! You can easily add whatever decorations you like. R.K.

I found a couple websites that my help you. Best of luck with your children's birthday parties. Mike from mike

Alternative to a real cake for 1st birthday

April 2007

My son is about to turn one and I just can't imagine giving him a real cake for it! He seems too young for all that sugar but I did want him to have something, I was thinking a banana or pumpkin cake with maybe a cream cheese icing or something like that. I was looking for recipes online but thought I'd check here if anyone has a good recipe that they've used before and could share with me. Also, I'm not sure how to ask for the type of toys we usually get for him. We try to give him toys mostly made from natural componants (wood, cloth, etc.) but it seems like a lot to ask of guests (mostly family). How have others handled this in the past? At christmas, we just took the other things back but I'd like to establish other practices so we don't have to go through this again when he's old enough to realize what's going on. Thanks so much for the tips!!

We felt the same way about giving so much sugar, though we were open to some sugar. We ended up giving our daughter a pancake with some powdered sugar on it (and a candle). They don't really care about cake, so it's really for your amusement that they get a cake. We also put in the invitation that we didn't want gifts, but if people really wanted to bring something, we said we'd love them to share one of their favorite kids books with her. Many people think it's rude to ask for specific gifts, but we felt comfortable doing this because we were fairly certain none of our friends and family would be insulted. anon

Remember that one bite of sugary cake won't ruin the kid - but you could also just put something you'd like him to have in a cake pan, frost it with something that looks frosting (if you wish), and leave it at that. For my son, I smushed ice cream into a cakepan and the re-froze it. You could use sorbet, or anything, really. But your ideas - a lower-sugar ''muffin'' type batter baked in a pan is just fine. He really won't know the difference at this age - it's just for fun!

As for gifts - we found it easiest just to request ''no gifts, please'' those first few years. They have plenty of stuff! If people say they really want to bring something, how about clothes in the next size up? Or a book? Again, at this point, he won't know or care about it. And eventually, you will have to get used to the idea that at future parties, there will be some plastic, and some sugar for sure! RK

I honestly think sometimes that people on this list create their own problems. It's one day. Is cake going to kill him? What are you going to do when he has playdates at other's houses, when he goes to school, etc.? Cake is not going to kill him. And thr gifts? No, you can't ask. A gift is a gift--say thank you and accept whatever it is, and you can do what you want after that. zunzie

As for gifts, I think it is impolite to make specific requests, but here's a way that I think tactfully gets around that rule: include something on the invitation like if you're looking for a gift idea, we'd love for Sophie to have a copy of your favorite childhood book. That way your preferences honor your guests, as opposed to instructing or judging them. And your request will also hopefully make it easy for them! If you open presents at the party (which you can do at age one) this idea also makes for great party conversations. You will inevitably get multiple copies of Pat The Bunny, but that's fine - you can have one for the car, one for the bedroom, one for a rainy day after the first one has been mauled to bits... Although I think books are ALWAYS the best present - they last the longest, are the easiest to pass along, and are fun AND meaningful, you could do this with toys too, suggesting or your favorite childhood toy. I'm thinking that a toy somebody liked 20 or 30 years ago is probably more likely to be wooden blocks or something you find acceptable. Fran

Hi, I also did not want to give my baby sugary, artificial colored, preservative-laden, artificially flavored cake for his first birthday. So I developed my own recipe from several I found on the internet. I avoided eggs, because he was sensitive to them when I ate them, and avoided wheat due to eczema in the family. We had not used whole milk, but he was ok with yogurt. This limits the possibilities but the cake turned out ok. I tested both oat flour and rice flour, and various sweeteners like date sugar, sucanat, banana. I ended up with rice flour- it was more tender, but the oat is fine too - more hearty. I chose unrefined sugar crystals (looks like granulated sugar but off white, made by Florida Sun or something) it added just enough sweetness and body without it being sugary. I tested it with different amounts. 3/4 cup seems to be a happy medium for us, experiment for yourself. So here it is, enjoy!


  • 1/4c + 1/8 c organic olive oil, combined
  • 2/3c organic unbleached granulated sugar crystals
  • 1 Tbs vanilla extract (Real stuff, NOT vanillin, check the label.)
  • 3/4c Organic Applesauce=Thick Braeburn is nice, consider draining it a bit if you have runny sauce.
  • 2Tbs Plain whole fat organic yogurt


  • 2 c Organic Rice Flour
  • 1 tsp Organic Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder


  • *Preheat oven to 350degrees
  • *Grease Loaf pan (I used glass, metal may need different times or temp) with some olive oil. Shake around about 2 Tbs of rice flour to coat. Shake out any extra.
  • *Combine on a paper plate - flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder. *Whisk sugar and olive oil in a bowl to slightly emulsify
  • *Whisk in applesauce, vanilla and yogurt in the same bowl.
  • *Dump dry ingredients from the paper plate in to the wet, stir with a SPOON, just until moistened. (Over stirring will make it flat, so will stirring with the whisk at this point. With out any egg we are relying on the baking powder, so gentleness is favored here) *Pour into the Loaf pan
  • *Bake for 30-40minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

FROSTING A few jars of ''Prunes & Oatmeal'' baby food from Earth's Best - it is a dark brownish purple color. Looks like purple hued chocolate.

DECORATION Strain plain whole milk yogurt to make it thick. Put a Tablespoon in the corner of a zip top baggie, snip off the very end of the corner- squeeze out and presto- white writing.

Add pureed sweet potatoes, pureed raspberries, pureed blueberries, pureed Swiss chard or spinach to make colors. Possibilities are endless and FUN!

My kiddo loved it, and I had no heartburn over him stuffing his face with the cake or frosting! Sugar Can Wait

I made a carrot cake for both of my kids' first bdays. The recipe is in the Super Baby Food Book'' by Ruth Yaron; and it used apple juice concentrate, raisins & apricots (as I recall) instead of refined sugar to make it sweet. Very organic, yummy and more dense tasting - not the smooth, whipped sugar-feast that you get from Betty Crocker. Also used a frosting recipe made w/ equal parts cream cheese, butter & honey (honey's OK after 1 year) YUM! Hungry Now

What kind of cake for first birthday?

Oct 2006

My husband and I are having a debate about what kind of cake to feed our son on his first birthday. He maintains that a typical kids birthday cake is appropriate for the occasion, and that we can only give him 3 bites or so. I think introducing sweets like that, even homebaked, it not appropriate for a one year old. Suggestions? What have others done for the first birthday? anon

i would give my kid birthday cake! it's their birthday! you should not of had kids if you we expecting them not to eat sweets. it's part of growing up. i think it's cruel not to give a kid now and then some sweets. you can find a recipe that has little to no sugar. don't buy one if your this pickey about it. good luck with the no sugar thing sugar is natural

I strongly recommend baking (with lots of love) a nice birthday cake from scratch and whole ingredients for your son and your guests...letting the guests admire the cake and comment on what wonderful parents you are...singing the song..blowing out the candles with him...putting a big bib on him and putting him in the high him a small slice...and letting him dive in on his own and get really really messy! A one year old's birthday is worth celebrating for all of you...including your little guy! Have fun! Live a little! And relax for your kid's party, so those around you can have fun and not worry about your worries! I hope you all have a wonderful loving first birthday party. Congratulations! Mom

I was a little concerned about this too. I thought it would give my daughter an upset stomach or make her crave sweets from that point on , or something. But, in the end we just put a small, frosted homemade cake on her highchair tray and she didn't know what to do with it. Finally, my mom got some frosting on her finger and put it up to my daughters mouth. My daughter didn't even like it. She licked a little off, but then just wanted to play in the cake. She was not interested in eating it, at all. It was a case of worrying for nothing A

I agree with your husband. A few bites of cake definitely won't hurt your child. Mom of two-year-old

I didn't give our daughter any of the cake from her first birthday party. She was too busy getting all the attention to notice -anon

We are very careful about what our children eat (we were especially careful with #1), we don't provide much dessert, refined flour, sugar, no juice, etc. However, for both of our kids' first birthdays, we bought a good-quality bakery cake. We figured most of the kids wouldn't eat it and we wanted our adult guests to enjoy it. Neither of my kids even thought to ask for cake and we didn't offer. I was actually quite surprised at my first son's birthday party when most of the parents were trying to get their children to eat the cake when they would rather have been off playing. I figure, if your child really wants cake or for some reason you feel it's really important for him to try it, give a tiny piece. He'll probably have a bite and be done It's just one day!

I'm sure you will get many recipes and recommendations for healthy cakes but we went with a normal cupcake. It was the first sugary thing she's ever had, and her 2nd birthday cake will probably be the second. I really don't think it's a big deal. As my mother pointed out, she cannot go to the bakery or bake a cake herself, so you are really in control anon

Ya know, if you have to go through life not being able to enjoy birthday cake, what's the point of celebrating? That said, for our son's first birthday, he didn't even want to eat his cake that I lovingly made from scratch. There is a ''best odds'' cake in the What to Expect books. You can always just get him/her a cupcake without frosting. I say, just relax and teach your kids that a little indulgence on their birthday is not such a bad thing, within reason anon

We didn't even bother with a cake for my son's first birthday. What's the point? He's not going to remember it. It's all about you the parents really. So instead we blew up a bunch of balloons and let him play with them and took a ton of photos. Seriously, they don't even know what a birthday is until they're 3 low key birthday mama

We had the same concerns about not wanting to give sugar to our otherwise sugar-free baby. We celebrated his first birthday last weekend and I used the recipe for the carrot cake with cream cheese frosting listed on this web site: The cake was a hit with the birthday boy and the adult party- goers alike and doesn't have a lick of refined sugar in it. It is fairly sweet, but it uses apple juice concentrate and raisins to get the desired effect. I liked the cake so much I would make it again for an all-adult audience. Enjoy! Nina

Our son was actually allergic to wheat at this age (has since grown out of it), so I made him a wheat free cupcake with some low sugar whipped cream on top. He loved the whipped cream and had some messy bites of the cupcake, but it wasn't too sugary. You can use a premade flour mix available at Whole Foods - instead of Betty Crocker (full of sugar) HAPPY BIRTHDAY

My son is 19 mos and has had very little sugar. We did have a birthday cake for his first birthday, but he was not given any. Since we had just had a healthy meal he wasn't hungry and therefore wasn't interested. It was no problem. I think most people give one year olds cake for their own personal gratification, but I don't think it's necessary. There will be so many opportunities for your child to have cake and sugar, why start now when it's not wanted and definately not needed? I don't plan to always deny my son sugar, but do plan to wait until he is old enough to be interested on his own. Good luck and Happy Birthday!! anon

Really, not even a few bites once a year? That seems a bit too controlling to me. What's wrong with sweets now and then? Breastmilk is sweet, so clearly we are designed to like sweet food. If you don't like the ingredients in store-bought cakes, make your own. Marie Antoinette may not have said it, but I will: Let Them Eat Cake

I stressed about this too and finally just decided to ''cave'' (I got cupcakes from Safeway for the kids and a Katrina Rozelle carrot cake for adults). We gave our son a cupcake and, having never had sweets he swirled the frosting around (it was piled high) curiously and tried a little and he wasn't all that interested. He did make a big mess so we got our photo op. He's 22 months now and we haven't given him any refined sugar since so I think it worked out fine. I wished I hadn't stressed as much and wish you much joy for this exciting day. anon

Bakery for first birthday cake

March 2006

I'm looking for a good bakery to buy my son's first birthday cake. I'd like to buy a small tradional cake (lots of frosting fun!) for him and larger one for party goers. Any suggestions appreciated! Michelle

we got a postcard from safeway for a free 8 inch (i think, it was enough for at least 8 people had we shared it) cake for our sons first b-day. It's just what you are looking for and tasty to boot. they even put his name on it with happy birthday! Other mom's I know have just taken the birth certificate in. We got our at the safeway at 51st and Broadway in Oakland. love free tasty cake

We have used Toots Sweets bakery in Berkeley on Gilman Street for birthday cakes and they have been quite yummy! I especially enjoyed their carrot cake. anon

I don't know how small a cake you are looking for, but Grace Bakery, at Market Hall have delicious little cakes, that feed about 4-6 adults. They're like a higher quality Safeway cake. They come in bright, fun colors, too. Cathy

Hi, Such a fun event to plan for isn't it? I found out right before my son's first birthday that both Safeway and Albertson's offer a FREE first birthday cake with a birth certificate. And as far as a great adult cake I LOVE the cakes at Tucker's on Park Street in Alameda. Their contact information is: Tucker's Super Creamed Ice Cream (510) 522-4960 1349 Park St Alameda, CA 94501 Cross Street: Near intersection of Park St and Alameda Ave Have fun! Happy First Birthday

Try Viriginia Bakery on Shattuck. It's a real old fashioned bakery, and they do lots of specialty birthday cakes. They also have a wide variety, so you can get something for the adults, too. Cake lover

We have always gone to Toot's Sweets on Hopkins in Berkeley for birthday cakes. They can copy beautiful designs, or take work easily over the phone. This is not gourmet cake, this is kid pleasing, sweet, frosting, type of cake. We always freeze what is left over and it is such a temptation to eat it afterwards. They have always had cakes ready on time and everyone has been pleased. For a one year old, well, give the baby a lick. Sandy

Great places for cakes are: Love at First Bite, in Berkeley, tucked away off Shattuck and Vine. They make the most amazing Red Velvet cake, a fantastic strawberry cake with strawberry buttercream, and a really great variety of other cakes using wonderful, natural ingredients. No yucky transfats smeared on flavorless cakes, like safeway!

Bake Sale Betty at 51st and Telegraph also does a wonderful strawberry shortcake which is perfect for a first birthday party. Miette, in the Ferry Building in SF, has my favorite cakes! Well worth the trip. Happy Birthday to your little one! Cake Maven


Both Safeway and Lucky's will give you a free small round cake for your child's 1st birthday. You just have to bring in a copy of the birth certificate and order it a few days before the party so it can be decorated. It was worked out great when my son turned one.