As you flip the calendar page, you realize your baby’s first birthday is approaching. Where has the time gone? Just a few months ago she learned to sit on her own. She continues to graduate to new foods at the dinner table. And little signs of affection and humor are now shared between you. A child who was once confused by her world is now reaching out to embrace it. It’s time to plan a celebration to mark the day she entered your family, just one short year ago!
How does one begin to plan such a memorable occasion? After all, a baby’s first birthday is commonly thought of as one of the most special birthdays of all, followed later by her 16th, 18th and 21. But the truth is, she won’t really know what is going on during this celebration, other than the fact that everyone is cooing over her and offering her cake and gifts. She doesn’t realize her friends and family have come to recognize the day she turned one. So relax and have fun with it!
As you flip the calendar page, you realize your baby’s first birthday is approaching. Where has the time gone?
First, make sure you invite people she knows and loves. This is not a time to get extravagant and hire strangers dressed in elaborate costumes for entertainment. She may enjoy this briefly, but the expense to your pocketbook isn’t worth the trouble. Instead, save the clowns for a birthday party she will appreciate (and remember!) and lean towards a more cozy approach. Invite playmates she really knows, not the toddler down the block whose never been in her company. She doesn’t necessarily need a bunch of kids her age to show up – just some of her favorite people, whether they be adults, cousins or family friends.
Plan to hold the party somewhere she feels comfortable. If she really enjoys the park down the street, consider gathering there. But for convenience’s sake, you may find having the celebration at home is easiest. Chances are, after cake and ice cream, unwrapping gifts and lots of snuggles from loved ones, she will need a relaxing bath and nap. And on that note, you may want to tailor the party around her schedule. If you know she is more alert and playful during the late morning hours, consider having the party then instead of during nap time or close to dinner. Everyone will understand the unique time on the invitation if you explain that it’s easiest for her.
Decorations for “Baby’s First B-Day” are abundant in all party supply stores and come in numerous variations. Choose how you would like to dress up the party by thinking about what makes your toddler smile. What really lights up her eyes? Does she love the way a pinwheel flashes color when spun? Does she giggle at the sight of a large balloon? Adorn the party spot with decorations she will admire.
Food for the gathering also takes some thoughtful consideration. If other small toddlers will be attending, try to stick to foods that aren’t known for causing allergies or choking hazards. Your little one may do well with hot dogs or peanut butter, but every child is different and you don’t want to risk problems with a child who is allergic to nuts or a two year old who hasn’t quite mastered chewing. Try finger foods like cut-up bananas and cheese. Small cups of applesauce or baked beans also work well, especially if served somewhere that is easy to clean. Be sure to have large paper napkins to use as bibs for those who come to the party dressed up.
Be prepared to give gift ideas before the big event. Other parents may understand that kids have special likes and dislikes. Adults who don’t have children may be confused about what to get a toddler. Be honest about what she needs and already has. If she likes to have stories read to her, don’t feel shy about asking for new books. If grandma wants to buy her something that sounds potentially dangerous, discourage her and give her a new idea. Many toys are not meant for small children, and it can be hard to take a new present away once it has been given. Be clear about what gifts are best for your child.
Documentation of this special event is important. You will obviously want pictures or video of your child eating her first birthday cake! But keep a few things in mind. First, you want to enjoy her special moments as they happen, not while you watch it on video after the fact. If you are stuck behind the lens all day, you are likely to miss out on the special moments that aren’t captured on film. Designate someone else to take photos and video so that you can enjoy your child’s birthday with her. You can always sneak a couple of special photos or video here and there when you spot a moment you’d like to remember.
Above all else, have a great time. It was one year ago today that you met your child for the first time. And although your friends and family may jokingly ask if you are having “labor flashbacks,” you can’t help but think of that memorable day. The year passed so quickly! Your little angel has grown to a more independent toddler now, and the celebration of her first birthday is a special occasion for both of you.