Looking for a healthy birthday cake for your baby? Here are some healthier smash cake recipes that you can customize. Whether you want an all-organic, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, allergy-friendly, or low-sugar birthday cake for your baby, check out these awesome and easy smash cake recipes.
Your baby is turning one – congratulations on this huge milestone!
Whether you’re throwing a party or simply celebrating at home, you can’t skip the birthday cake. But does the thought of giving your baby a store-bought birthday cake make you uncomfortable? I totally get it! You’re a health-minded mama and you want to do what’s best for your baby.
You’ve probably spent the last few months carefully choosing your baby’s meals, giving organic fruits and veggies and avoiding processed foods. You may have skipped rice cereal and gone straight to pureed vegetables or baby-led weaning. (Your baby has probably even tried green juice — and liked it.)
So now that your baby is turning one, choosing a first birthday cake doesn’t have to be any different. (No matter what your MIL says.) After all, your baby only started eating solid foods a few months ago. It’s natural not to want to overload their system with processed ingredients and refined sugars. Especially if they’ve never had them before.
So if you can’t find an organic bakery or simply aren’t comfortable with a store-bought smash cake, I am here to tell you that your baby can still enjoy birthday cake. And it doesn’t have to be loaded with sugar, artificial flavors, and numbered food dyes.
And if you want to use a store-bought smash cake, that’s OK too! Let your baby enjoy it and don’t stress about it. They probably won’t even eat much cake, and you can chalk it up to the 80/20 rule.
If you decide to make your own birthday cake, below are some excellent healthy smash cake recipes for you to choose from.
What Is a Smash Cake?
A smash cake is a small cake made just for your baby on their first birthday. Since your baby has probably never had a birthday cake placed in front of them before, they’ll likely dig their hands into it and smash it apart. Hence the name smash cake.
A smash cake is a fun tradition to use at your baby’s first birthday photoshoot and/or to serve on their birthday. Most smash cakes are 6″ in size, so party guests or family members would be served from a different cake.
Giving your baby their own cake allows you to customize it to their dietary needs and taste preferences. A smash cake can be anything that you want it to be: it can be a fancy frosted cake, a watermelon cake, or unsweetened banana bread with cream cheese frosting.
You know your baby best. Would she really prefer a decadent chocolate cake over banana bread? You get to choose.
Why Should You Make Your Baby’s Smash Cake?
While you can now order a smash cake from most bakeries or grocery stores, more and more moms are making their own healthy smash cakes at home. Making your own smash cake gives you control over the ingredients in your baby’s cake. It allows you to customize the smash cake to your baby’s needs and preferences.
By making a homemade healthy smash cake, you can do it your way…
- Use all-organic ingredients
- Cut the sugar in half or use maple syrup instead
- Bake the cake in your favorite glass Pyrex dish or stainless steel loaf pan
- Swap out ingredients for foods your baby likes
- Make an allergy-friendly smash cake using your baby’s safe foods
- Decorate it simply or even with a cake topper
And even if it doesn’t come out perfectly, your baby will still love it because you made it just for him. (But if you try to be a Pinterest mom at all like I do, please do a trial run before the big day.)
Unhealthy Ingredients in Store-Bought Smash Cakes
If you need a little convincing to make a healthier first birthday cake, just look at the ingredient list of any cake you’d find at the grocery store. Here are some of the concerning ingredients I found at a mainstream retail bakery.
- Allergens. Many store-bought cakes contain allergens or may be exposed to them in the baking process. If you are concerned about common allergens such as peanuts, tree nuts (including coconut), milk, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, or sesame, it would be much safer to make your own smash cake.
- High Fructose Corn Syrup. Topping the list of what we want our kids to avoid, HFCS causes inflammation and increases the risk of obesity, weight gain, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and other serious diseases. 
- Preservatives. Because store-bought cakes often include dozens of ingredients, you’ll usually find a dose of chemical preservatives. For example in looking at some Walmart cakes, I found TBHQ listed as a preservative. Linked to behavioral issues, TBHQ is a chemical preservative causes chronic neurotoxic effects and vision disturbances. 
- Unhealthy Oils. Oils high in omega 6 or otherwise harmful such as palm oil, soybean oil, and sunflower oil are often used in store-bought cakes. These oils are unhealthy and can disrupt the gut and lead to inflammation.
- Propylene Glycol. Propylene glycol is a synthetic food additive that is derived from petroleum and is called the less-toxic, ingestible version of ethylene glycol, which is an ingredient in antifreeze. I prefer to stay away from it when I can (as with most petrochemical ingredients), and wouldn’t want it in my baby’s smash cake. 
- Artificial Flavors and Colors. Derived from petroleum, artificial flavors and colors are carcinogenic and also linked to hypersensitivity and behavioral issues. Numbered food dyes like Red-40, Yellow-5, and Yellow-6 contain benzidine, a human and animal carcinogen permitted in low levels. It’s a good practice to avoid these chemicals. [4,5]
- Artificial Sweeteners. Highly processed food additives, artificial sweeteners are chemicals that are used to sweeten food. They taste several thousands of times sweeter than table sugar. Studies demonstrate some ill effects, increasing risks for metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes [6,7] as well as disrupting gut health. 
- Refined Sugar. Refined sugars have been linked to a host of health issues including inflammation, obesity, cancer, and heart disease. When refined sugar enters your body, it depletes vital minerals and vitamins from your body as it is processed. And, if you didn’t already know, sugar is highly addictive. While it’s difficult to avoid refined sugar altogether, it’s important to limit it to a small amount whenever possible, especially for your sweet little baby. 
Not to mention that at mainstream stores like Walmart or Ralph’s, none of the ingredients will be organic. By making your own smash cake, you’re in better control of the ingredients.
Related: The Best Sippy Cup Alternatives
20 Healthy Smash Cake Recipes
Here are 20 healthy smash cake recipes: gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo, AIP, nut-free, egg-free, and low-sugar. And yes, they are all delicious and smashable!
One quick note before you make any of these recipes is to check the serving size. Not all of these recipes are for smash cakes, so make sure to either modify the recipe or be prepared for a little extra cake. Yum!
1. Oatmeal Applesauce Smash Cake (No Added Sugar, Gluten-Free) | The Artisan Life
This gluten-free smash cake includes unsweetened applesauce in place of granulated sugar. It also uses plain Greek yogurt for frosting! While this recipe does contain dairy, you could easily use a non-dairy substitute for this one.
2. Small Batch Vanilla Cake | Cooking with Karli
This recipe is along the lines of a traditional smash cake, but it’s made with simple ingredients. That said, it doesn’t use any specialized dietary ingredients; it’s made with flour, eggs, baking powder, milk, vanilla, and sugar. It would be perfect for the family that wants to make a cake from scratch using wholesome, organic ingredients.
3. Peach and Banana Cake | Super Healthy Kids
This cake is free of refined sugars and a good match if your kiddo loves peaches! This recipe uses peach and banana puree to sweeten the batter, and it uses maple syrup to sweeten the frosting.
4. Gluten-Free and No Added Sugar Smash Cake | Our Haven Hill
This smash cake recipe uses bananas for some sweetness and gluten-free flour. For the frosting, the recipe uses concentrated unsweetened apple juice, cream cheese, and vanilla extract. I think you could also just use unsweetened apple sauce if you wanted to avoid concentrated apple juice.
5. Paleo Baby Smash Cake | Grazed and Enthused
This smash cake recipe is free of grains, eggs, nuts, sweeteners, and dairy. It’s made with avocado, sweet potato, beef tallow, carob, and coconut flour. This cake recipe follows the paleo diet and is made with ingredients your baby is likely already eating, so he is sure to enjoy it.
6. Gluten-Free Vegan Lemon Drizzle Cake | Rhian’s Recipes
This is a citrusy and sweet cake — without having any refined sugars. It is completely vegan and gluten-free and uses pure maple syrup as a sweetener. It looks completely delicious and would be great for a spring birthday party!
7. Fruit-Sweetened Smash Cake | New Ways Nutrition
This recipe is naturally sweetened with fruit (strawberry and banana), so if you’re looking for a sugar alternative, this would be a good one to try. It does contain dairy; the frosting recipe includes whipping cream with a few freeze-dried strawberries, which actually makes the cake a pretty pink color!
8. Healthy Smash Cake (no unrefined sugars!) | Love In My Oven
This cake is free of refined sugars. It uses whole wheat flour, whole milk, egg, unsweetened applesauce, and banana. For the frosting, the recipe is simply maple syrup and whipping cream. You could always try dairy and/or gluten-free substitutes for this one as well.
9. Hugo’s Barely Sweetened Banana Pineapple Smash Cake | The Baker Chick
This cake looks so sweet for a first birthday. As the title suggests, this smash cake uses ripe bananas and pineapple to sweeten the cake, and the frosting is made of cream cheese and a touch of maple syrup. The recipe calls for flour, egg, and coconut oil along with cinnamon, vanilla extract, and baking soda. I think this cake would easily be adaptable for any dietary restrictions or preferences you might have.
10. Vegan Coconut Cake | Recipe World
Coconut is both tasty and looks so pretty on top of a cake! This cake does use granulated sugar, but it also uses bananas and unsweetened applesauce to cut down on the amount of sugar it uses. It follows the vegan diet (suggesting to use vegan margarine; you could replace this with coconut oil if you prefer).
11. Blueberry Smash Cake | Chow Hound
This cake is made with whole wheat flour and no refined sugars. While this cake won’t be as sweet as a traditional cake, it uses naturally sweet ingredients to make it the perfect dessert for your little one. Bananas, blueberries, and maple syrup work together beautifully in this recipe.
12. Baby Smash Cake (Allergy-Free, Paleo, Vegan) | Bake it Paleo
This recipe uses a variety of paleo-friendly flours including cassava flour and tigernut flour. As is the theme with healthy smash cake recipes, this one also uses unsweetened applesauce and maple syrup to bring out the sweetness of the cake while staying healthy.
13. Egg-Free, Nut-Free, Dairy-Free Chocolate Cake | Allergic Princess
This is an allergy-friendly chocolate cake recipe: egg-free, nut-free, and dairy-free! It does not include a frosting recipe, so you could think about using a sweet potato chocolate icing listed below.
14. Cake with Coconut Whipped Spinach Frosting | Tatiana Amico
This cake is easily adaptable to any dietary restrictions you might have (gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, vegan), and best of all, it’s completely free of refined sugars. The frosting is also green, thanks to a little spinach, and you can sweeten it with maple syrup.
15. Eggless Vanilla Cake | Mommy’s Home Cooking
If you’re looking for a more traditional cake that is dairy-free, this is a good one to try. You can substitute the cow’s milk for any plant-based milk, and as the title suggests, there are no eggs.
16. Eggless Orange Cake | Yummy Tummy
This is an egg-free and butter-free recipe for those love the zesty taste of orange! You can make this into a gluten-free cake by substituting regular flour for gluten-free flour.
17. Gluten, Egg, and Dairy-Free Chocolate Cake | Momables
This gluten-free, egg-free, and dairy-free chocolate cake looks amazing! It uses vinegar (or apple cider vinegar) and baking soda to allow the cake to rise. While it does use granulated sugar, you could substitute applesauce as a healthier way to sweeten the cake. Additionally, the frosting recipe calls for powdered sugar, so instead try this Vegan Chocolate Frosting.
18. Sugar-Free Vegan Carrot Cake | Eggless Cooking
If your little one loves carrots, this is a great first birthday cake recipe. Since this recipe calls for chopped walnuts (and they can be a bit of a choking hazard for babies), I would recommend using a blender to grind them up.
19. Gluten-Free, Paleo Pumpkin Cake | Savory Lotus
I love pumpkin year-round but this would also be a wonderful smash cake for an autumn birthday. This is a simple pumpkin cake that is moist and fluffy. It also includes a dairy-free frosting. Instead of granulated sugar, this recipe uses coconut sugar and pure maple syrup. Yum!
20. Maple Cinnamon Sweet Potato Bread | Rebooted Mom
I know this says “bread” rather than “cake,” but it certainly could work as a smash cake. It’s loaded with delicious sweet potatoes! This recipe does call for brown sugar, but if you’re trying to cut out sugar, you could certainly use a little unsweetened applesauce or just a little extra pure maple syrup.
Healthy Frosting Recipes for Smash Cakes
Here are two baby-friendly frosting recipes for your little one’s smash cake. Feel free to modify according to your preferences.
1. Vegan Chocolate Frosting | Beaming Baker
This vegan (dairy-free, gluten-free, and paleo!) chocolate frosting uses coconut cream and vegan chocolate chips to make a very delicious chocolate frosting you could easily pair with any of the healthy cake recipes I’ve mentioned in this post.
2. Sweet Potato Chocolate Icing | Naughty Nutrition
This 4-ingredient frosting looks and tastes amazing. It’s both high in fiber and does not have refined sweeteners. This would be a great frosting to add to any cake. It uses sweet potatoes, cacao powder, honey, and salt!
Here’s hoping your baby’s first bite of birthday cake will be sweet and delicious, no matter what smash cake recipe you choose.
- Healthline: Why High Fructose Corn Syrup is Bad
- Feingold Research on TBHQF
- Agency for Toxic Substances: Ethylene Glycol and Propylene Glycol Toxicity
- Center for Science in the Public Interest: Food Dyes – A Rainbow of Risks
- NIH: Diet and Nutrition: The Food Dye Blues
- American Diabetes Association: Diet Soda Intake and Risk of Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes
- The BMJ: Association Between Intake of Non-Sugar Sweeteners and Health Outcomes
- Healthline: Artificial Sweeteners Good or Bad?
- Science Direct: Daily Bingeing on Sugar Repeatedly Releases Dopamine in the Accumbens Shell
Founder and CEO | The Gentle Nursery. Yasmine is a wife and mom of 2 boys, and the CEO of Biomeology, a company on a mission to end postpartum depression. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California, a doula in training, and a Functional Nutrition Coach. With a background in research, analytics, and leadership for a Fortune 100 company, Yasmine applies the same attention to detail to every article she writes and researches.