Cake Conondrum

So yesterday morning the Hubster and I were gazing at the babe talking about how amazingly adorable she is and how fast she is growing up. We realized that she is almost nine months old and in a few short months we will be celebrating her first birthday. And while we were daydreaming about our daughter's first birthday party, the Hubster mentioned that he was especially looking forward to watching Violet smash her hands and face into her birthday cake.


And I thought about it, and as I pictured it in my mind, something about it just didn't seem to click. Then I realized why, and I looked at him and quietly said, "Sorry but she won't be able to do that." 

But he persisted, "Why not? I did it when I turned one - it's a right of passage!" And I looked at him a little longer and simply said, "Think about it." And he did think about it. And then he got the same funny look on his face when he realized...

Our daughter can't have a birthday cake.


Nor can she have a birthday pie nor a birthday cookie nor a birthday cupcake. Nope - she can't even have birthday cheese.

Our daughter can't have food and we're starting to realize how many special days revolve around it. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Halloween, birthday parties, movie nights. Most of my favorite childhood memories involve food - baking cookies from scratch with my mom, eating pancakes and french toast on the weekends, running after the lilting tune of the ice cream truck on a hot summer day.

Of course Violet will eventually be able to eat some food - she can't have formula forever, but we don't know when exactly that day will be. And will she ever be able to eat cake? We have no idea. Heck - after all of the tests and all of the specialists and all of the poking and prodding we still don't even have a diagnosis for her.

We still want our daughter's first birthday to be memorable, and somehow I don't think putting a candle in her absolutely awful-tasting prescription formula will cut it. So we're going to have to get creative. I mean sure, there are other things that make parties memorable - the presents, the decorations, her first party dress, and, of course, the people who celebrate it with you. But we'll never have that snap shot - the one of her with icing all over her face and a sugary smile on her lips; the one of her little chubby hand reaching into a mound of spongy cake, or the one of her licking her tiny baby fingers; the one of her looking in amazement at her glowing birthday candle.


But I keep thinking to myself- there must be something. There must be some thing that we can do to replace the right-of-passage that is the birthday cake. Do I make one out of paper or felt? Buy a plastic toy cake? Paint one Wayne Thiebaud-style? I don't know. Maybe there isn't anything we can do in lieu of cake, but I thought I'd throw it out there to all of my amazingly creative readers.

Do you have any bright, non-edible ideas for making her celebration special?

In the end we know that the celebration of the first year of her life will be special, it will be uniquely hers, and it will be full of love and joy. But somehow, some way I wish we could still have our cake and eat it too...


  1. you could get (or make) her a flower bday cake, like this one-

    She wont be able to eat it obviously but it would make for some gorgeous pics. maybe the florist could use violets on it!

  2. My daughter was on the same formula from 10 months until 14 months. She's since been on rice milk and coconut milk. Regardless, ( ;0) ) at her first birthday she had just been released from the hospital so we had a low key birthday party and I made a vegan cake for her that she didn't even reach for or care about. And it was fine. Really. She is slowly outgrowing her allergies and I hope in August when she is two we can have a cake for her and watch her smash. But if not - you will survive!

    Email me if you want to chat further! I know how hard it is to try to find food for a baby that can't have milk and soy, etc.!

  3. Maybe you could make something that she could still smash into - like a cake made of playdoh? She won't know that you're supposed to eat it after you smash your hands in it. She might just enjoy mashing it up.
    If you're feeling really crazy you could help her finger-paint a cake? That's probably better for a 2nd or 3rd birthday actually.

  4. You can still have wonderful pictures taken with a cake--she wont be able to smash it and eat it, but you can still have those memorable first birthday photos. There are other sites, but the one that we have used is: They allow to choose from their pre-designed cakes or design your own and the cake we received was beautiful and virtually indestructible.

    I don't know how important the "smash" part of birthday cake is for you, but maybe this could be a compromise?

  5. I really like the flower cake idea. Also, the kids I nanny for have this Melissa & Doug wooden birthday cake set. They love playing with it every day of the year. We have cake parties, build cake towers, and deliver cake to stuffed animals all over the house. The kids are 3 and 1.5 and they absolutely love it! This would be a great present for Violet's 1st birthday and a way to remember her first cake that she couldn't eat but can always play with! If you wanted to get super crafty and creative you could make her a personalized set!

    Here are some links:

  6. I love the play-doh cake idea too, but I also just had a brainstorm for a possibly edible "cake" you could try, too…RAINBOW JELLO! I saw a recipe here:


  7. I love the play-doh cake idea too, but I also just had a brainstorm for a possibly edible "cake" you could try, too…RAINBOW JELLO! I saw a recipe here:


  8. Thanks for the suggestions! They're definitely helping to get the wheels turning in my brain. She can't have ANY food other than her formula until the doctors figure out what's going on with her, so ALL food is out, but love the ideas!

  9. What about a wooden Birthday ring

    It could be a tradition and eventually you could put it onto of a cake. Our family used it in the morning at breakfast as we had cake in the afternoon (where we sometimes used it again!).

  10. If she can have food just no sugars, I found this recipie for Banana Carrot pan cake

    I am sure she will love whatever you decide!

  11. Hi there,

    Why not take the emphasis off what your daughter is missing out on (food/cake smashing) and take the opportunity to create something really fun for her to experience and for her to look back on in photos?

    Why not hold a themed party (eg jungle), and set up some fun props for taking pictures of your daughter with your guests? Sort of like a homemade photobooth.
    Or create a special piece of art? An idea could be to use a large canvas and non-toxic paints to capture your daughter's footprints and handprints . Then everyone at the party could write a special message for her in the white spaces. Lots of photo opportunities there, and your daughter will have SO much fun with the paint.

    When I was a kid, I was terrified of balloons... most people thought i was crazy but it turned out I had undiagnosed medical condition affecting my hearing. My amazing mother created the most wonderous balloon-free birthdays for me - including one where we built a fort with moving boxes and tape! Other mothers judged me as crazy, but the other kids always loved my parties as they were so fun and different.
    Now that I have come to terms with my medical condition, I am so grateful of the extra effort my Mum made for me.

    Your daughter doesn't realise that she's 'different'... so create a party that celebrates everything that is unique about her.

    Looking forward to hearing about the wonderful party you throw for her soon :o)


  12. finger paint? just as fun and messy as icing!



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