Best 1st Birthday Photoshoot At Home Ideas, Themes, Props For Boy or Girl

Looking for the best 1st birthday photoshoot at home ideas for indoors or outdoors? These are my simple tips for a DIY cake smash photoshoot at home with your one year old boy or girl and the family – including themes, props, and letterboard phrase ideas!

I've now taken both my little boy and little girl's first birthday photos; one indoors, the other outdoors. And I'm sharing ALL my best tips for both! Plus loads of unique first birthday themes, props, and letterboard phrases you can use with your baby!

First Birthday Photo Props

1 Year Old Birthday Themes:

  • Color
  • Paw Patrol
  • Minnie + Mickey
  • Frozen
  • Farm
  • Trains
  • Space
  • Bugs
  • Sponge bob
  • Rainbow
  • Garden party
  • Royal
  • Superhero
  • Camp
  • Around the world/travel
  • Beach
  • Under the sea
  • Lego
  • Forest/woodland
  • Dinosaur
  • Sweets (donut, cotton candy, etc.)
  • Winnie the Pooh
  • Other favorite books/tv shows
  • Monster Bash
  • Pumpkin Patch
  • Construction: Tractor, Excavator, Crane, etc.
  • Animals (specific one like a Bear, Bee or Bunny, or wild animal/jungle safari

First Birthday Letterboard Phrases + Themes:

  • One-derful Year (general for anything)
  • Gold: Hole In One!
  • Sweets (cake, cupcakes, candy, cotton candy, etc): Sweet Little One
  • Whimsical or Alice In Wonderland: [NAME's] One-derland
  • Fruit: One In A Melon or One Sweet Peach
  • Safari/Where The Wild Things Are: Wild One
  • Bee: First Bee Day
  • Sun: First Trip Around The Sun
  • Berries: A Very Happy Berry First Birthday
  • Fishing: The Big One
  • Bunny: Somebunny's 1st Birthday!
  • Harry Potter: The Chosen One

1st Birthday Photo Ideas For Boys + Girls:

  • Recreate earlier birthday photos
  • Take 1st birthday photos with the family
  • Cake smash
  • With presents
  • Theme based on favorites (color, character, toy, etc.)

1st Birthday Photoshoot Tips


There's a reason monthly milestone photos stop at 12 months – and that's not just because we're celebrating first birthday's here!

Over the last month or two you may have noticed it becoming harder and harder to take photos of your baby. Long gone are the days of laying them down on their back with a letterboard for a cute over head shot.

Now your baby is entering toddlerhood and they may not be interested in sitting still anymore so containers for your first birthday photoshoot will be your BFF!

Have a step stool, crate, chair, or bucket on hand can make a first birthday photoshoot at home significantly easier!

Personally, I start baby on the floor, and if they are too squirmy, I try a step stool, and if that's not enough, we go for the crate as kids around 1 years old love pulling themselves up, standing, and smacking countertops.

Additionally, some people will use a higher chair and decorate the high chair as part of the backdrop.

The idea here is to recognize your baby's need for movement, and also have some props to engage them versus your backdrop.

Engage baby

Before I bring baby out, I always make sure to have a handful of items in my pockets or nearby that make a lot of noise or are flashy in some way.

I start with simple items that just make noise, then work up to things that light up and make sound. I want to find that sweet spot of engaging baby, but not enticing them so they lunge to me and I can't photograph them.

Additionally, bubble machines can work wonders here and create gorgeous photos!

You never know which one will get baby to look and deliver that perfect smile!

Be ready to move

When trying to take photos of a one year old, one thing is guaranteed: they'll be moving! So dress comfy, be ready to get on their level, take some shots from even a little lower, and even get silly so they look your way, while you're still framing the perfect shot

Prepare your environment

Don't get baby dressed and then set your scene! Stage your photoshoot well before baby comes into the picture.

If doing indoor first birthday photos, ideally set up somewhere you can leave up for a day or two (in case baby just isn't feeling it on the first go or lighting isn't quite right when you try the first time).

DIY 1st birthday photoshoot ideas at home for baby boy or girl with parents indoors

Do a test run before a cake smash

With your backdrop set, get baby dressed in their outfit, and take a few photos before you plan to actually bring out a cake for a cake smash; especially if you're saving a cake smash for a birthday party!

This is a great chance to do family first birthday photos too!

Plus now you'll have two chances for baby to be “in the mood” for photos. It also gives you a chance to work out any set up or lighting kinks. You could do this after the first nap and then do the cake smash after the second nap in the same day; or do it a day earlier.

1st birthday baby boy pirate ocean theme, Captain Jack Sparrow

Set a timer

This tip has two meanings…

First, be ready for your photoshoot to only last 10-15 min max. Just click as many photos as you possibly can during this time. Yes, it'll mean more photos to sift through, but it's the best shot you'll have at getting the money shot.

Second, set a self timer so you can get some 1st birthday photo with the family in them too!

Our first birthday pictures for baby girl:

With my little girl, we did an outdoor first birthday photoshoot. I simply took some of her bedroom decor (rug and tent) outside and used nthat and nature as our backdrop.

First birthday cake smash picture ideas and tips with themes, props, outfits, and more for baby girl or boy, indoors or outside

We live in South Florida and her birthday falls during a cooler month, so we took full advantage of it! We started off with family photos first.

Because her photoshoot backdrop was taller, we did some standing one's – which is another great way to contain a wiggly 1 year old.

Then we brought out the cake for some cake smash photos.

1st birthday cake smash picture ideas for indoors or outside and tips with themes, props, outfits, and more for baby girl or boy

Our first birthday pictures for baby boy:

My son's birthday is during the summer, so we had to take photos inside, otherwise the bugs would've been all over his cake smash and our family pictures would've been a sweaty mess!

Again, I just used some bedroom decor (a flag I made for his room, and one of the pictures). His name is Captain, so the theme kind just unfolded from there. We also had these little crowns randomly, so I popped one on him.

1st birthday photoshoot ideas boy at home with parents indoors! Discover the best tips, props, backdrops for family cake smash pictures at home

Because his first birthday photoshoot had a pirate theme (the quote is from Captain Jack Sparrow), on our test run day, I dressed him in a Pirate costume. But for the cake smash, our daughter was home and I wanted some family photos so I dressed us all in nautical blues. Plus, his cotton onesie is easier to clean than the pirate costume.

With both my kids, what I found is that they are pretty polite eaters. So we didn't get any crazy cake smash pictures.

How to take first birthday pictures at home with family, indoors or outdoors! Tips for DIY cake smash photoshoot, props, themes, backdrops, and more ideas!

My son definitely felt a little overwhelmed with the cake smash actually and needed big sister to show him how to do it: