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I'm not quite sure if a baby's first birthday is a bigger milestone for the baby or for the parents. When my twins turned 1, I remember feeling like I crossed the finish line of a marathon. There was a lot of champagne and multiple cakes -- although my girls didn't quite know what to do with them.

Looking back on it, I wish I'd been aware of the trend that so many parents have caught on to: Set the birthday kid up with their very own smash cake, a separate, aptly proportioned confection presented without utensils for the honoree to enjoy in whatever manner they see fit.

They can feel free to squeeze it, drool on it, crumble it, face plant in it. You name it. No one else is going to eat it but them!

Here are a few reasons why this is an absolutely genius idea:

1. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. When else are they going to get to eat like cavemen while an audience cheers them on? I mean, until college, of course.

2. The photos will be priceless. Many parents stage this moment purely for the awesome visuals. They buy outfits to match the theme of the cake or they go the other direction and leave the birthday kid in their birthday suit. Just make sure you have both the camera and video camera ready from the moment you set the cake in front of them to the moment you whisk them away, sugar-coated and probably screaming with joy, and off to the bath.

3. You can have your own cake, too. Give your little one a healthy option made with applesauce or pureed carrots or perhaps a basic vanilla cake. Leave the fancy fondant icing creation to the grownups.

4. And you can eat theirs. Let's face it, none of the other guests are going to scrape a hunk of cake off your kid's belly and eat it. But you can!

5. Think of it like a full-body sugar scrub. We pay good money to be rubbed down and exfoliated, right? Well, this is the baby version. And it's so much cuter.

6. It's free entertainment. No need to hire a magician or a pony. Guests will love watching baby destroy their cake with abandon. Add a high-energy playlist to amp up the mayhem!

7. They'll be occupied for a good long while. While the birthday kid goes to town, you should have good 8 to 10 minutes to eat your own cake (see #3) and maybe even raise a glass of something before things get too out of hand.

What kind of smash cake have you made for your kids?


Image via Tobyotter/Flickr