First birthday parties: not just for kids’ socializing |

First birthday parties: not just for kids’ socializing

Kelly Coffey
Vail CO, Colorado

VAIL, Colorado ” A first birthday party isn’t so much for a baby to celebrate a milestone. It’s more for once-trapped adults to socialize and drink with other adults. That was my take when my wife and I brought our 11-month old daughter to a friend’s first birthday party.

We brought the kid over: cake and candles and balloons. As I said, we needed an excuse to socialize and drink with actual adults. Also, we wanted to do some reconnaissance work to plan our own daughter’s upcoming first birthday.

This party, or any other first birthday party, wasn’t for babies because babies don’t play with each other. We’ve set up a number of play dates for the kid with other babies these past months, so I have some experience in this field. It’s an interesting phenomenon: the kid categorizes other babies just as she does her toys and stuffed animals.

When she first sees a baby, she gets very excited. She wants to crawl over to the baby and grab her and squeal ” for a little bit. Then she loses interest and moves over to a plastic measuring cup. The measuring cup is much more fun because it makes interesting sounds when she bangs it against the hardwood floor. It’s also easier to stick in her mouth.

Every now and then when the kid takes interest in another baby she will reach at her aggressively. Pull her hair. Poke her in the eye. Exactly what she does with a new stuffed animal. It’s all in good fun.

It’s only when the other baby cries do we see an actual social response. The kid gets upset and cries, too. Then you have two babies sitting on the floor facing each other, crying. It’s like dogs in a kennel riling each other up with their barking.

That semi-socializing was exactly the case at this birthday party. We sat the kid and the birthday girl on the floor in front of each other. They squealed at each other for a moment. Then the kid moved on to the guests’ discarded shoes by the front door. The birthday girl became fascinated with the ribbon attached to a helium balloon.

Both the ribbon and the shoes went into mouths and everyone was happy.

The wife and I came home from that event with ideas for our daughter’s first birthday party. We’ll also have cake and candle and balloons. The kid will have her first sugar rush. We’ll take lots of pictures. We’ll invite her friends: fellow babies and toddlers who will ignore each other. And along with come their parents, all in desperate need to get out and socialize and drink with other adults.

Kelly Coffey is a novice father. He shares his mistakes, fears and laughs along his journey to figure out how anybody could possibly raise a child. Submit comments to

Support Local Journalism