Celebrating the big ONE

Celebrating the big ONE

The Parenting Center has seen a lot of first birthdays recently. That first birthday is always one that parents want to remember, and often, they go all out for the first birthday celebration. There will be many family members and friends that the child may not be familiar with, possibly new sights and sounds, new environments, and a new schedule. That is a lot for a one-year-old to take in. A parent seeing their child crying more or being clingier makes them wonder what is happening. It’s supposed to be a party after all! The Parenting Center has ideas about what to keep in mind when planning and hosting your child’s first birthday.

First, be mindful of who and the how many people you plan to invite to the party. Parents want to share the momentous occasion with as many people as possible, even people their child may not be familiar with. This can lead to your child feeling overwhelmed. Having your child’s grandparents and one or two friends they may have regular play dates with can be sufficient. Other friends and family your child is not around regularly could video chat or see your child on a different day. This can help to reduce the stress your child may experience by being introduced to many unknown people all at once. Remember, between 9-18 months old, children can experience fear of new people.

Next, ensure the party fits with your child’s eating and nap routine. Children thrive on routine and when it is disrupted, it can create a stressful situation for them. Let’s say your child’s routine is going to the park between 10 - 11:30 am, snack is at 11 am, and nap time is at noon. Having the party at the park starting at 10 am and ending at 11:30am with the snack being a small birthday cake at 11 am would work perfectly. Keeping your child’s nap time at noon continues their routine and can reduce the stress they may experience.

Lastly, pay attention to your child’s responses to sensory input. Even at one year old, children give clues to what sensory input they like and don’t like. This is also called their sensory profile. For example, if your child covers their ears, shakes their head “no”, or tries in some way to avoid loud noises, these are clues they do not like it. If they smile and giggle when there is a loud noise or look in the direction of the noise without distress, they may be letting you know they enjoy it. This can let you know if you should have loud noises at their first birthday party, whether that is singing the birthday song or having loud music.

Your child’s first birthday is always a special occasion, but it can induce stress for your child and you. Limiting the number of people that are invited, scheduling the party around your child’s eating and nap routine, and being aware of your child’s responses to sensory input can make their first birthday an enjoyable event for all. Happy Birthday!

Monet Somerville, MS
Parent Educator

Monet received her Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology from North Carolina Wesleyan College. She then went on to receive her Master’s in Science in Psychology with a Concentration in Child and Adolescent Development from Capella University. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Developmental Psychology with a Concentration in Child and Adolescent Development. Monet is also a licensed Trust Based Relational Intervention Practitioner.

Prior to working to The Parenting Center, Monet worked as a Case Manager in a residential facility for adolescent girls who were in foster care but were unable to be placed in a foster home. She also taught foster parents about child development and the impacts that positive parenting can make on a child.