The first year of life is amazing, and it should definitely be celebrated with a special event when they finally move from the zero spot to securing their first birthday.  And although your baby has grown rapidly, matured quickly and learned an abundant amount of new things this first year, chances are they won’t remember much about their birthday.  They may not know a thing about opening presents and will be so surprised that you are allowing them to dive head first into sugar laden cake – they will likely overdose with the first bite.  Sadly, birthday parties for a one year old are much more fun to the adults than they are for the person of honor.

Still, there are a wide array of things that are marketed to parents just like you – completely eager to drop an immense amount of money getting the perfect supplies from Disney Sesame Street.  You will no doubt be excited to send out invitations to family members from all over the place, and will over plan the day to the point that your baby will become over stimulated and cranky by noon.  And yes, this is understandable!  However, you can save yourself a lot of time and effort by scaling down the day just a bit.  Not to mention the disappointment you will feel when a one year old, with 100 people staring at him, crumbles under the pressure of being watched while eating his cake.  They might as well be standing over him with forks chanting cake, cake, cake, cake!  Because to your one year old – this is how it feels.

There are some simple things you can plan to properly celebrate the day without going overboard.  If you have friends who have a child about the same age, invite them.  Try not to invite too many people for the sheer fact that it will become too hectic and you won’t enjoy the day.  Close family members are also good candidates to come.  They will at least not be expecting much more than some cake, ice cream and a few great pictures to add to their family scrapbook or to post on FaceBook.  Plan the event in the early morning or in the evening, when your baby has had ample time to nap.

There are some things that are certainly best avoided if you are planning a birthday party for a one year old.  Steer clear of renting places to go like jump houses or bowling alleys.  First of all, there are too many older children there and you will have a hard time keeping your toddler from getting hurt.  Your only line of defense will be to climb up into the looming slides and towering playhouses yourself.  (Not a good thing).  You should also keep away from inviting clowns, or even your child’s favorite character to the party.  There are few, if any, one year olds who like to see a massive creature wearing a mask, colorful make-up and dancing around their living room.  It will simply frighten them.  Another bad idea for a birthday party for a one year old is a vacation to Disney or any event that will take more than an hour or two.  Whatever festivities are in store, your baby should not be forced to sit still or be the center of attention for too long.

Of course, getting decorative cakes, cups, treats, and party favor is fun.  Your baby will more than likely enjoy the balloons more than any gift you could buy them.  Speaking of gifts – buying for a one year old can be tricky.  Not only are toys in this age group expensive, they often require a skill set that your child may or may not have.  The problem is if they are already walking or cruising around, then many of the ideal toys will be outgrown and become boring within a few weeks.  Baby toys in general are often wasted on the person buying them.  They always seem more entertaining in the packaging than they do cluttering up your living room floor.  If aunts, uncles, cousins and other people ask you what to get your baby – be honest.  Clothes are great.  Shoes are great.  As a big gift, you could even buy your child a toddler bed or something for their room to celebrate the occasion.  Some of the best gift ideas are simply the wrapping paper, a large box for them to play in and of course…the balloons.  If people don’t feel right giving your one year old a pair of jeans – then try to find toys that you think your child might actually like.  Some of the most long lasting toys for young children continue to be balls, blocks, and things that play music.

Once the party is planned, the invitations sent, the arrangements made – you can rest assured that your child will be sick that day.  Call it Murphy ’s Law or just bad luck.  Try and do your best the week before to keep them away from germy places and make sure you have plenty of infant Motrin or Tylenol in the house so you are prepared.

One really nice idea is to celebrate your own growth during this year.  Whether this one year old is your first or your fifth child, chances are they have taught you a lot.  Rather than embellish the child, plan a date with your spouse without the children, and reflect on how quickly your life is changing.  You may want to take a stroll down memory lane by reviewing old videos and pictures so you can be reminded quite clearly how fast times goes by.  This way you will remember to enjoy it.  Video tape your day, because there is no way in the world that your one year old will remember this birthday in a year from now or in 20 years.  Most importantly – remember that your birthday party for your one year old is a once in a lifetime experience.


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