Your baby’s first birthday is a momentous event, and you may wish to celebrate with a small party. Don’t be surprised, though, if he doesn’t show much interest in the proceedings, or if he finds the paper and the packaging more exciting than his birthday presents.
  • Keep it simple—you can’t enjoy celebrating your baby’s transition to toddlerhood if you are busy serving hors d’ouevres

  • Limit the number of guests—most babies suffer from separation and stranger anxiety at this stage, and a big gathering may cause distress rather than enjoyment

  • Keep things short—an hour or 90 minutes is probably the full extent of his attention span

  • Set the time for the party half an hour after he normally wakes up from his nap, so he’s refreshed and not too grumpy

  • Forget about themes and party games—your baby will have no interest, and you may end up feeling deflated

  • Entertainment for little ones can be cheap and simple—a pot of bubbles will keep them entranced for ages

  • Balloons may be fun, but place them out of reach to avoid him popping them, or choking when they are deflated; better still, choose helium balloons and cut the strings so the little ones can’t reach them

  • Make sure he’s had something to eat and drink before the guests arrive; even the most baby-friendly food probably won’t appeal to him in the midst of all the excitement

  • Let him open his presents—this will be the highlight of his day, if only because he will be surrounded by a mountain of crinkly, colorful paper

  • You may choose to do party favors for older guests, but a shiny new ball will be enough to enthral his one-year-old buddies when they leave

  • Watch the sugar—most little ones haven’t had much experience, and can become sick and irritable on a party-food diet

  • You can make an exception to the rule by making a wonderful, wobbly Jell-O, perhaps moulded in the shape of your baby’s favorite animal

  • By all means make him a cake in the shape of something he recognizes—a farm animal, for example, or perhaps a teddy bear

  • Offer water to drink (most baby guests will have their own cups), and some fun, healthy finger foods

  • If anyone asks for gift ideas, suggest books—this is the best way to build up your baby’s library, and it’s an affordable gift for most people

  • If grandparents want to be more generous, perhaps you could suggest they buy your baby his first ride-on toy, which will probably occupy him for the rest of the day

  • Don’t forget your camera—this is one day you can’t fail to record

  • Take a photo of all the guests, and tape it in your baby’s scrapbook; you’ll be amazed how quickly you forget his first friends, as he grows up and develops his own social circle

A select few

Invite only a handful of family or friends that your baby knows well, so as not to overwhelm him on his first birthday.

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