5 Fun Ways to Celebrate Your Tot’s First Birthday

The first year of a child's life is precious. From their very first cry to their happy squeals as they dig into their birthday treat, the days and moments in-between are filled with exploration, discovery, love, and growth. It's no wonder that parents get excited to celebrate their little one's first birthday. Many parents agonize over the details of their tot's celebrations for months leading up to the big day and wonder what they can do to make the day incredible. While some families like big parties complete with a theme, entertainment, and plenty of drinks and snacks for guests, other families prefer to keep the celebration small. As you look forward to your little one's first birthday, consider these five different ways to celebrate the momentous occasion.

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1. Go Big

Some parents start planning their little one's first birthday party before they even arrive. If you have a Pinterest board dedicated to party themes, family and friends anxious and willing to help make the day special, and a budget that allows you to indulge, a big first birthday bash might be for you. As you plan, be sure to keep in mind that your little one likely won’t remember the day and work hard to plan something that they'll be able to enjoy. Make sure you account for your tot's nap schedule, provide foods that your little one can enjoy, and leave a room or space in your house undecorated and quiet in case your little one gets overwhelmed and needs a private retreat.

2. Keep it Small

If the thought of not throwing a party for your little one makes you sad, but the idea of throwing a big one makes you anxious, consider having a small, informal gathering for your little one’s first birthday. Invite only your closest family and friends, include a cake and some light decorations (three balloons and a party hat should be enough!), and you've got yourself a wonderful, quiet first birthday celebration that's worth remembering. 

{ MORE: Does Your Baby Have a Holiday Birthday? Check Out These Tips to Make it Special! }

3. Plan a Special Day

Some parents aren't that into parties. As your kiddo grows they may express an interest in a more traditional party, but until then feel free to skip the balloons and cake and plan a special family day instead. Is there a zoo or park near your house that you've been dying to check out? An indoor play-space that your little one loves to explore? A hike that leads to a great swimming hole? Make the time on your child's first birthday to share an experience with them that they'll enjoy and that you, as their parent, will cherish the memories of. Having a quiet family day is also great for the nostalgic parents who will likely spend the day both happy and sad that their baby is already growing up.

4. Have a Photo Shoot

Whether you plan to have a party or not, most parents want to remember this special time in their baby’s life. As your little one's first birthday approaches, consider booking a first birthday photo shoot or, if you’re handy with the camera, planning one yourself. Many photographers now offer “cake-smash” or other birthday-themed sessions, and you can typically find an affordable photographer by asking for recommendations in your local moms or parents group on Facebook.

5. Celebrate YOU!

While your tot will likely be the center of attention on their actual birthday, make sure you plan time to recognize yourself and your partner for all you've done in the last year. You, amazingly, have completely and totally rocked the first year of your little one's life and, even if it doesn't feel like it now (especially if you’re still not sleeping or your little one has recently developed some challenging behaviors) you deserve to be celebrated. Take an hour (or a day) for yourself and do whatever it is that rejuvenates you. After all, you've got 17 more birthdays to plan before your little one leaves home! 

{ MORE: Moms, Here's a Reminder that It's the Little Things That Matter the Most }

How did you celebrate your tot's first birthday?

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5 Fun Ways to Celebrate Your Tot’s First Birthday

Julia Pelly has a master's degree in public health and works full time in the field of positive youth development. Julia loves hiking after work, swimming during the summer and taking long, cuddly afternoon naps with her two sons on the weekends. Julia lives in North Carolina, with her husband and two young boys. You can find more of her work at JuliaPelly.com ... More

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