What is a Diaper Cake?

Pink Monkey Diaper CakeDuring the holidays, we always run into folks who are friends of our friends or friends of family members. As part of the typical conversation, the question is invariably raised asking what I do for a living. When I reply that I make diaper cakes, most of the the time, the response is “huh” or “what’s a diaper cake?”. So, I usually give my standard elevator pitch that goes something like this, “A diaper cake is an arrangement of diapers made to resemble a traditional tiered
Cake. It is then decorated to match a particular baby theme with ribbons, bows, and baby care items. I then like to add a plush toy for the baby to enjoy as they grow older.”

The response is usually something like, “Oh, that’s cool, I have never heard of those before,” or “Wait a minute, are those the things people bring to baby showers? I think I know what they are.” Either way, the conversation continues on from there, and I either explain more (if they ask) or we move on to different topics. It got me thinking about how there are many people who have never heard of a diaper cake, and don’t even know that they can make some of the most memorable, and unique baby shower gifts that you can possibly give. So, with that in mind, I want to take the opportunity to set the record straight, explain what diaper cakes are, and put the word out there for those of you looking to learn more about them.

Traditions and Origins

Well, I think it’s fair to say the diaper cake is a “girl” thing. There aren’t many men who are aware of them, primarily because they are popular at baby showers, and traditionally, the baby shower is about the mom and her friends. This isn’t universal, of course: more and more dads are starting to take an interest in the planning and attendance of the baby shower, because they truly want to share every aspect of their baby’s life with their spouse.

I did some online searches and research, and where baby cakes first originated from, and who first made them, isn’t abundantly clear. However, it’s assumed that they were made even before disposable diapers became mainstream. Of course, back then, cloth diapers were used and probably glass baby bottles, as plastic bottles were generally not available at the time. It’s also assumed that the inventors of diaper cake were woman who enjoyed crafting, and as such, made these for friends and family members who were pregnant. Finally, it’s pretty safe to assume that there weren’t any for profit businesses making diaper cakes like there are today. I went back to the earliest days of Lil Baby Cakes (Oct 2, 1999) and pick up the diaper cake image shown on the right. This was one of the first diaper cakes created on the site at the time. Back then, you can see a baby bottle, Q-tips, ribbons and bows, and a cellophane wrap to present as a gift to the new mom. We’ve come a long way since then, but what makes us truly unique and special today was true, even back then. We crafted that cake with extra care, paying special attention to even the tiniest details, and made it as beautiful as we could. We do the exact same thing today, with every cake we make.

The Evolution of Diaper Cakes

Over the years, the designs have evolved to include plush toys and a host of other “goodies” for the mom. I’m sure you may have seen pictures of diaper cakes made with a champagne bottle in the center, along with the diapers, as a way to give the mom something to care for the newborn, plus of course the champagne for the parents to enjoy once mommy can start drinking again. I’ve seen motorcycles, airplanes, topsy-turvey, and a host of other designs all cleverly created with diapers. However, just like a traditional wedding cake has its tiers, so does the “traditional” diaper cake, and I feel most comfortable with this style for many reasons.

For one thing, styling a diaper cake in the “traditional form” makes it instantly recognizable as a cake, even if guests are a little startled when they discover they can’t eat it! We tend to associate these cakes with special occasions, like weddings, anniversaries, and of course, new babies. By intentionally keeping that same shape, I’m able to capture the emotions that these cakes foster, and enhance them even more with a fun twist of my own! More practically, the tiered system allows me to craft some amazing, gorgeous looking cakes that won’t fall apart the minute they’re touched. Since we have to ship our wonderful cakes to many different places, I want my customers to know that their cake will arrive in perfect condition.

So, a Lil’ Baby Cake diaper cake for now is a collection of diapers arranged as a traditional tiered cake. We use Pampers Swaddler diapers in the standard size 1 for our designs, and look for quality plush toys to include in our cakes. Each diaper is perfectly usable as if it just came out of the package. (I do get asked every now and then if all the diapers are usable.) And just like in the “ole days” each cake is handmade from scratch when the customer places the order. The Our Lil’ Monkey Pink 4 Tier design shown on the right highlights the main characteristics that goes into every cake I design. For instance, I love Mambo from Gund. It’s a great product, with a cherished history, that new parents will come to love and appreciate just as much as the baby as she grows older. We put together an overview of this diaper cake that you can find on our main website entitled, “Why buy a Diaper Cake?”

In closing, I thought I would address one final comment that I tend to get from folks I have talked to since I started Lil’ Baby Cakes. Believe it or not, I still get the occasional question asking whether or not you have to refrigerate the diaper cake. Now, maybe these folks are just pulling my leg, or maybe they are just making wise cracks. However, it has happened enough times that I sometimes wonder if people do get confused about exactly what a diaper cake is.

By the way: the answer is no – you don’t have to refrigerate them.

As 2018 closes down I would like to wish you a Happy New Year. I look forward to creating many more new designs next year all Lil’ Baby Cakes style! Best wishes for a great 2019!