Even though your baby won’t remember the day, their first birthday party is a special milestone and a chance for you to celebrate how much your life has changed in just a year. (Whoa, right?) They also won’t remember what you served, so it’s a chance—probably the last one—to keep their birthday treat healthier. So we have a few alternatives to the traditional crazy-sugary birthday cake, whether it’s a healthier version of cake or cupcakes, or just some lower sugar (or somewhat healthier) first birthday party treats that will please all your guests. Not just the birthday boy or girl.
Healthier First Birthday Cake Alternatives
If you’re of the mind that it’s really not a birthday party without cake, this recipe for Baby’s First Birthday Cake at Oh Everything Handmade (above) is for you. It’s made with applesauce, bananas, whole wheat flour, and some spice to give it just a little bit of kick. It’s super tasty and, of course, perfect for that “smash cake” photo opp you’ll want to post to Instagram.
How gorgeous is this totally on-trend ombre Apple Spice Cake with Maple recipe from Simple Bites? We’re in love! Aimee gives great tips for how to cut sugar in your baby’s “smash cake” while going with a more, um, expected taste in the cake for adults. Because even though you may be trying to keep your one-year-old’s diet lower in sugar, your adult guests are likely to prefer the real deal.
If there was ever a moment for funfetti, it’s your baby’s first birthday. But most funfetti recipes—holy sugar! The Funfetti Muffins at The Big Man’s World, on the other hand, substitutes sugar for coconut palm sugar — though you can use stevia or a sugar-free baking blend if you want to avoid sugar altogether. They also happen to be gluten-free, dairy-free, and can be made vegan. Bonus: they are made in one bowl! The only thing to keep in mind is that the recipe calls for nut butter, so be sure that none of your attendees have tree nut allergies.
Zucchini Bread Mini-Muffins | Jess Fuel
I made zucchini bread for my own daughter’s first birthday and she devoured it. This zucchini bread recipe recipe we found at Jess Fuel has a little bit less sugar than my grandmother’s recipe, but that’s perfect if you want to top it with a dollop of this cream cheese icing recipe that I like, from Wholesome Baby Food. By the way, there are a bunch of terrific, healthy cake recipes at Wholesome Baby Food, too. Definitely follow that link!
I never would have though of making this clever Fruit Tower Cake recipe at Weelicious, but I’m so glad that Catherine did, and shared her tips with us all. It’s so simple to make and serve that I think any kids’ party would benefit from one, even if you have a traditional cake, too.
Other Healthy (ish) Birthday Treats For Kids
Instead of dishing up bowls of ice cream, opt for these healthy Frozen Yogurt Bites at Tablespoon instead. They’re so simple to make, but still have tons of color, which makes them especially festive for a party. And as long as you’re making these, you might as well double the recipe to have extra on hand for afternoon snacks all week long. Two quick tips: If you want to make these lower sugar, use plain Greek yogurt (you can even sweeten it up with a touch of maple syrup; just avoid honey if sharing with kids under 1-year-old) and chop the fruit into small pieces if you’re worried about little ones safely managing full-sized pieces.
If you’re partying in the warmer months, these delicious Strawberry and Coconut Popsicles at Joy the Baker are easy to hand out to guests, young and old. Just be prepared with lots of extra napkins and bibs, because these are going to get drippy! Her instructions are terrific, and if you have a Zoku popsicle maker (which we love) that totally helps.
These Chocolate-Dipped Frozen Bananas at Sugar Hero! are super festive, perfect for a party. All that color and chocolate will delight young guests and they’ll get some healthy goodness from the fruit, too. Then, the adults can stand around and quote Arrested Development—”there’s always money in the banana stand!”—while eating frozen bananas and watching the kids play. Of course you can always just make frozen bananas on a stick without the chocolate too — and maybe dip the top in some sprinkles before freezing to make them a bit more birthday-like.
If it’s not clear by now, I love chocolate dipped fruit for parties (tons of recipes at that link!) and to add to the list, I think these Chocolate Dipped Satsumas at My Fussy Eater are perfect for little hands. Or big hands. Because, let’s be honest, we’ll be more than happy to snack on these, too.