The big one: Mother talks about her youngest son’s important milestone

Vicki Cockerill, parenting columnist. Photo: Vicki Cockerill

Vicki Cockerill, parenting columnist. Photo: Vicki Cockerill - Credit: Vicki Cockerill

In her latest column on parenting issues VICKI COCKERILL, from Dereham, talks about what is really at the heart of a child's birthday.

Harlow. Photo: Shellie Wall Photography

Harlow. Photo: Shellie Wall Photography - Credit: Shellie Wall Photography

Your child's first birthday is a big milestone for any parent.

It is where you acknowledge that they are no longer a baby, and also celebrate that you did manage to keep them alive for a whole year! The second time round…

It doesn't seem as though it was as big as with our first son's birthday as we easily spent hundreds of pounds. There was a Toy Story theme, soft play, present after present, but I realised it doesn't matter.

They will still choose to play with a hairbrush.

This time round with our second son, we had everything already and realised it was buying presents he would actually enjoy rather than for show.

Parents love to compete with one another and show off with who did what, and who threw the best party and we got X this and Y that… So there is a underlying and unnecessary pressure when it comes to children's birthdays and parties.

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We wanted to mark the day in a way we would remember.

So, with the eldest off at nursery the family headed out to celebrate the day with a photo shoot at Shellie Wall's local studio.

I was a bit dubious as Harlow can be quite temperamental and my doubts were founded as - by learning to walk a few weeks before - every time he was sat down he got back up and walked off out of shot.

I have spent a lot of money before on Bounty shots from the hospital and truth be told they sit unframed in a box gathering dust.

We opted for a cake smash photo and from the minute we arrived we felt at ease. Shellie wasn't even phased that Harlow was getting up and walking around and did everything to get some beautiful images of him devouring the cake.

As a surprise to us, we then finished the shoot with him in a bath tub (win-win as there was a lot of cake smears) and I was so happy with the images we received, some on the same day! I wouldn't hesitate to go back and I really would highly recommend not only Shellie but also to have a cake smash photo shoot as a way of remembering the day.

A photo shoot for us was one thing we did just for Harlow. It can be hard as he can be overshadowed by his brother, and we have had three years of photos of just Elijah, and not many of Harlow on his own.

We also had a small party for him, but generally it was a lot of Elijah's older friends who came as not many of our circle have babies around Harlow's age. Of course, it was overshadowed by the England match and one very drunk uncle, but never-the-less it will be remembered!

This year there have been so many changes, from moving house and new jobs, to a battle with post-natal depression. It felt as though Harlow's first birthday marked the end of that chapter for us.

Now we look forward to being a family of four, balancing two jobs and saving up for a new car and mortgage. We also get to do the whole birthday thing again in two months but we may skip the drama and head to London instead.

I am sure a Colin the Caterpillar will survive the East Anglian trains.

Won't it?