Learn what a smash cake is for your child's first...

Learn what a smash cake is for your child's first birthday. Credit: Handout

Q. My colleagues with babies talk about making a "smash cake" for the baby's first birthday. What exactly is a smash cake? I never heard of this when my kids were small.

A. Kids love to stick their fingers in the icing of their birthday cakes, and parents always have to keep their little hands away. But, hey, it's their birthday -- why shouldn't they get to touch their cake if they want to?

Enter the smash cake, which has become a popular addition to first-birthday bashes.

"It's a little cake for their first birthday that they just dig into," says Tiffany Macartney, who baked one for her son Matthew's birthday celebration in December. There's still a big cake for the guests, but the smash cake is a smaller version, usually with the same theme, that the birthday child can eat any way he wants to without worrying about the mess or ruining the cake. Matthew's big cake, for instance, had a barnyard theme, while his smash cake was a cow's face.

"He destroyed that cake," says Macartney, who also is one of the leaders of North Shore Mamas, a 170-member meetup.com group for moms and their children primarily in Huntington, Northport and Commack. Parents usually take a lot of photos of the baby eating his smash cake. "The pictures are hysterical," Macartney says.

Some bakeries will include a smash cake if you order a regular first-birthday cake. Check with your local bakery to see if it provides one.

Submit your child's smash cake pictures here.

Newsday columnist Beth Whitehouse

Newsday columnist Beth Whitehouse Credit: NEWSDAY