Why You Should Throw Your Baby a First Birthday Party

A confession: I didn’t throw either of my kids a first birthday party.

Another confession: I kind of regret it.

Being a super practical person, I decided early on that no big celebration was needed to mark the passing of my kids’ first years. The effort, the expense: it all added up to what seemed like unnecessary fuss for tiny people who wouldn’t remember a second of it. Plus, we live 800 miles from the nearest family member, so there was no pressure from grandparents (not that they would have applied any) to do much to mark the occasion.

I now think we should have done more than wrap a couple of gifts and stick a candle in a cupcake.

A baby’s first birthday is definitely a milestone, for all of you. The changes and developments your baby makes in the first year of life, from the helpless “fourth trimester” to rolling, crawling, standing, maybe even walking, are huge! In what other year of life will so many drastic changes occur? I’m not sure there is one comparable.

It’s been a big year for you too. Whether this is your first or eighth baby, each addition to your family brings major changes and teaches you so much about yourself. Maybe s/he was your first and you spent the last year just figuring out how to care for this new precious creature who’s captured your heart. Maybe this baby is your second or third, and you spent most of your time learning what juggling and multi-tasking really means. Whatever the case, you survived, and hopefully thrived, and that deserves decadent desserts, streamers, party hats, and gifts galore (for mama, too! You’ve earned it).

It’s up to you whether you invite anyone besides family to your party. The bash doesn’t need to be big to be momentous. But yes,  turning one is a reason to celebrate. It’s true that your baby won’t actually remember anything about the day itself. But s/he will relish your stories about the day, your recollections about smash cakes and first tastes of frosting, how s/he loved the boxes more than the gifts. And of course there will be copious photos and videos of him or her (and hopefully of you in there too), for your baby to swipe through with delight in the coming months and years.

Your future is sure to be filled with increasingly raucous birthday parties as your baby grows up and starts requesting friend-filled bashes, outrageous venues, and expensive gifts. Make this first one sweet and memorable. Simple, but celebratory. Small if you prefer, but significant.

Skip it, and you might be sorry.

Will you be throwing your baby a first birthday party? What are you planning?