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Should One-Year-Olds Have Their Cake & Eat It, Too?

May 22, 2011

My baby turns one tomorrow! I admit, I am still in shock. Maybe even denial.  She has an older brother.  With him, I anticipated every little stage and growth.  Now, I am getting smarter.  They are all over so fast.  So, please, not so fast!  I’m not ready for her to grow up.  I just feels so unreal. How could a year have gone by?

Yet, looking forward to the second year of her life – complete with language acquisition, walking skills, and a mouthful of teeth – I prepare for her birthday tomorrow.

The question is, should it contain cake?

My personal feeling on the matter has always been that no one-year-old needs cake. Especially one that has been eating healthy, organic foods from day one. Fruits and veggies, meats, whole grains. Little or no sugar. And, of course, 90% breast milk (illustrative, not conclusive, statistic, but you get the idea).

Four Cake-Eating Philosophies Disputed:

1. The “poor child” philosophy.

My child may be poor, but don’t feel sorry for her because she isn’t eating cake.  She doesn’t know what she is missing. (I’m not against fun, or sweets, per se.  I love sweets.  Which is why I know that she will know what she is missing soon enough.  Why force the inevitable?)

2. The “photo opportunity” philosophy.

Why do people feel they need a photo of a person eating cake/blowing out candles to commemorate a birth?  I am guilty of this.  It just seems necessary on a birthday.  Now, stop and think about it: how many “good” photos do you have of a person eating cake/blowing out candles on their birthday?  Because all of the ones I have collected over the years are subpar.  Pretty lame in the realm of photography.

Plus, they haven’t created any real memories (“Remember the time Sylvie ate that piece of cake?”  “Yeah! That was awesome!”  “Good times…”).

I herby suggest to myself and others, to commemorate future birthdays with a better photo, and a better memory.

3. The “one piece won’t hurt” philosophy.

Of course not.  I can only counter this with, “why?”  Why the piece to begin with?  She’s a baby.  I don’t believe cake on your birthday will cause longterm health effects, nor am I concerned about obesity in my one-year-old.  Still, healthy choices just seem easier, especially when she’s too young to fight, whine, or cry over it.

4. The “normal” philosophy.

There are two reasons, I think, many people give their one-year-olds birthday cake.  One: it’s the norm.  Everyone does it, and many people simply don’t consider not doing it.  Two: for the guests.  I would suggest that birthday cake is more for the people watching (“look at them eating cake, isn’t that cute?”) than the child.

Sure, the kid likes sweets (although not always).  But, I’m quite sure parents/grandparents/friends get more of a kick out of the eating than they do.  Is that really a good reason to do it?

You be the judge.  Maybe I’m lame on this one.  Like I said, I love sweets (although I don’t actually love cake all that much), so I understand the draw.  But, I have also seen my (older) child on sweets.  And, let me tell you, it makes the day easier on everyone if we limit the sugar overload.  Yikes.

So, does my one-year old need cake?  No.  (I think you’d all agree).

But, should she have it anyway? 

And, while you’re at it: What other rituals/traditions/photo-ops do you use to celebrate birthdays?

11 Comments leave one →
  1. May 22, 2011 9:28 pm

    She doesn’t need cake. Cakes do not make memories of birthdays or any other celebratory holiday/event. There’s nothing WRONG with eating cake, i love cake. But you certainly don’t need a cake to celebrate anything :)

  2. May 23, 2011 1:27 am

    She doesn’t need cake. The decision is yours, of course. I do like your point about things being the norm not necessarily being right.
    I try explaining this all the time: just because many children (it’s normal, don’t worry, everyone elses’ kids are the same) these days are manic, brattish, whatever, doesn’t mean that it’s normal as in healthy.
    Happy Birthday Baby!

  3. May 23, 2011 8:05 am

    Wish I was more strict with Ro on this one, there will be no cake for my baby this birthday (I think). Still want to see some picture of Sylvie celebrating! Happy Birthday little one!

  4. May 23, 2011 12:45 pm

    I am with you. One is so young to be giving them junk when they have spent the first 12 months on nothing but the best food possible. However, I make a pumpkin loaf with extra pumpkin, 1/4 the required amount of sugar and a little olive oil. I think it is pretty healthy. You can sub apple sauce for sugar. You can also substitute apple sauce for oil can’t you? There are lots of ways to make things healthier. I forget all the tricks because I don’t have much time to bake. I have added spinach and beets to brownies. They were very good. The spinach replaced the oil…. I didn’t follow a recipe but just fooled around.
    Good luck and Happy Birthday Little Sylvie!

    • driftwoods permalink
      May 25, 2011 9:27 pm

      Yum. That sounds good. I often do the same. Dylan’s birthday cupcakes this year were laced with squash… and were tasty, too.

  5. May 31, 2011 4:01 pm

    Kelly, the more I read your blog, the more I think we need to hang out. I keep saying to myself, “Hey! Haven’t I preached that a thousand times? This girl is my kind of girl!!” In other words, keep it up. And I’m right there with you on the cake. :)

    • driftwoods permalink
      June 2, 2011 8:14 pm

      So glad you like it, and that you’d like to hang out. It is so gratifying when I hear from people who actually read, and like, my posts. And, yes, please, let’s hang out!

  6. June 23, 2011 2:27 pm

    I think the only reason to have the cake is if you want a piece yourself! :) If you write on it with sugary gel, write ‘YUM’. One is very young age to start a life long addiction! I think you would be doing her a favor to start your own tradition.
    It’s nice also to hear other people questioning the norm! Probe on, jedi…

  7. Gina Thomas permalink
    February 24, 2012 9:31 am

    My, once, one year old will be 2 in a couple of days. I got so much grief from attendees of his 1 year party for not giving him cake. (He ate mango instead.) This year I will attempt to bake a healthy cake. I am not a cake person myself but I want to keep with tradition for those coming. I would love to copy this blog and make it into a scroll to give to our friends and family who were horrified and giving me a hard time last year. People who aren’t healthy don’t always get why anyone would want to be….so I avoid confrontation.
    Thanks tons for this. It’s nice to be reassured by like minded people.

    • February 26, 2012 11:00 pm

      Thanks for your comments, Gina! I’d be honoured if my post became a scroll! =) My baby’s 2nd birthday is coming up in a few months already! I’m going for healthy cake, too, I think. (For my older son, I always add veggies to his cupcakes. This year, I went overboard and added spinach… the cupcakes turned out green… but still tasted great!).

      P.S. Mango is a great alternative. =)

  8. Julie permalink
    June 30, 2013 11:15 pm

    Thank you for this post! My baby is turning one in a couple of months so I’ve been thinking about this issue a lot recently. I’d prefer not to give her cake, for all the reasons you (hilariously!), pointed out, but I do fear how it might go down. Yesterday, was talking to my MIL about my very basic party idea and she commented “It’s really all just about watching them eat their first cake.” Ahhh! I cringed but didn’t say anything. Thankfully my partner is on board because I already feel myself caving into pressure. I must stay strong!

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