It’s been a year already? Wow! You might feel like this first year of your baby’s life has flown by, or maybe the day you came home with them in your arms seems like a while ago. Either way, your family is reaching a milestone.

Birthday parties can be a great chance to gather your friends and family together and shower your little one with love. They can also be a lot to organize for a tired parent of an infant. The decision to throw a birthday party for your baby’s first birthday is entirely up to you. There are many other ways to make memories to mark this special occasion.

Make something baby can remember

Most babies will indeed love all the attention and affection that comes with a birthday party. However, at only one-year-old, this could be overstimulating all at once. Your baby won’t know what their birthday means yet, and they probably won’t have any memories of the day. Some ways you can celebrate the occasion and make memories for the whole family could be:

  • Photos! Showing your child photos of themselves at this age once they’re a bit older can be great fun for the whole family. You can share stories of the day or what was happening when the photo was taken. This can be a nice way to connect to your history as a family, even if your baby was too young to remember at the time.
  • Plaster of baby’s hand or foot. You can purchase DIY kits, or contact a potter to make a plaster cast of your baby’s hand or foot while they’re still small. If you purchase a DIY kit, make sure to follow the instructions closely and buy from a reputable brand. Alternatively, you can use non-toxic paint to make handprints or footprints on some paper and then frame it. Make sure to wash all the paint thoroughly off your hands and your baby’s hands.
  • Film a video of you chatting to your baby on their first birthday. You could even save this for their 18th birthday or another milestone age.
  • A message book. Ask your loved ones to write messages or draw pictures in a book for your little ones to look at as they grow up. You can do this throughout the year as you have visitors or catch-ups, or if you do have a get-together for your baby’s birthday, leave the book and some pens out and encourage everyone to write in it.

Keep it simple

  • One-on-one attention. Your one-year-old can still become easily overstimulated, or anxious if you’re not around. Consider inviting a small group of people over on your baby’s birthday, or schedule a few visitors in one or twos over a few days. Your baby will likely have a better time if they can still hear or see you around, and will probably get more out of interacting closely with one or two people at a time. All the sounds and chatter of a large party, especially if you’re taken away from your baby for long periods at a time, could confuse your little one.
  • If you’d like to celebrate with loved ones who also have children, it could be a good idea to take the party to a park. If the other children are old enough to play, they could enjoy the playground while you get some quality time with the important adults in your life.
  • Present policy. Let your guests know how you feel about presents. You might like to ask for specific, practical gifts like new clothes for your growing baby. At this age, your baby will benefit from toys that stimulate their senses, so asking for fun textures, or things that light up or make sounds could be great for the baby’s development.
  • You might like to ask for nothing. Or you might like to say presents are optional. If you say nothing, guests may be unsure what to expect – this is okay, but you may get some things you already have, or may receive nothing when you were expecting something.

Your comfort and baby’s comfort is a priority. There’s no ‘need’ to throw a party if you don’t feel like it. You may feel like you ‘should’ or feel pressure from friends and family who are excited to celebrate your baby. If you feel like celebrating with just your immediate family, in your way, that’s okay! You can communicate to anyone asking when the party is happening, that you’d prefer not to make a big deal, but you could organize a time for this person to visit.

Your baby has many birthdays to come! As they get older, they will learn what their birthday means and may come to look forward to the event. Birthdays around three and older are an excellent chance to encourage your baby to connect to their friends and peers and enjoy some socializing and playtime. For this first year, you can celebrate the occasion in any way you would like to!