How to Create an Awesome Pretend Birthday Cake for Your Tube-Fed Keto Kid
Last week, we talked about keto-friendly birthday cakes for children on the ketogenic diet. In today’s post, I’ll share some ideas for making non-food, pretend birthday cakes for keto kids who are tube-fed or exclusively formula-fed.
My younger sister, who has epilepsy, has been tube-fed for many years. However, up until a few years ago, she was able to eat some food by mouth and always enjoyed tasting her birthday cake. After she became strictly NPO due to swallowing problems, I worried she would be disappointed by a lack of a birthday cake so I made her this pretend pink and purple princess cake out of cardboard, felt paper, ribbon, tissue paper and glitter paint. I poked little holes in it and inserted candles for her to blow out (you could also use flameless candles for a more fire-safe option). Her favorite part of celebrating her birthday is everyone singing “happy birthday” to her (seriously, the amount of joy she gets from a single song is unparalleled) so she didn’t seem to miss eating cake at all. In fact, I think she loved the foodless cake even more because she could keep it and we could relight the candles and sing over and over again, all year long (she’s really confused about her age now).
To make the pretend cake, I cut two big circles (about 12 inch diameter) out of cardboard to be the top and bottom of the cake, along with one long thin piece of poster board that I wrapped in a circle and taped to be the middle of the cake (the diameter of this circle should be about the same as the two big circles you cut). I taped one of the big circles on top of the wrapped poster board and the other on the bottom. Then I covered the whole thing with paper mache and let it dry overnight. After it was dry, I covered it with colored felt paper that I cut to match the size of the top of the cake and the sides. Last, I decorated it with different colored ribbon (wrapped around the sides to look like layers), glitter paint, fluff balls, and balled up white tissue paper to look like frosting. I used a glue gun to attach the decorations, but super glue would probably work fine if you don’t have one.
If you are crafty, you can find some awesome sewing patterns and craft tutorials for making more elaborate pretend birthday cakes. We’ve collected some of these on our Pinterest page. Some of the ideas require fairly advanced sewing skills but others are more basic.
Another idea is to make a birthday cake piñata (such as this one) and fill it with non-food treats like stickers, pencils, toy cars, necklaces, etc. You can use it as a pretend cake to sing happy birthday, then use it as a piñata afterwards. Alternatively, you could make a piñata-like box cake made of decorated boxes with gifts inside that your little one can “open”. Here is a great example shared by the FPIES Foundation: cake with gifts inside and cake with gift boxes opened (Note- FPIES is not related to epilepsy or the ketogenic diet but children with this condition also must follow very restricted diets).
If your child is really into a certain theme, you can make a themed pretend birthday cake. Party supply stores and grocery stores usually sell cake topper kits of popular kids’ interests and movies (I found some Frozen and Despicable Me 2-themed options in my local grocery). For a pretend cakes, you can just glue them on. You can choose colors for the pretend cake according to the theme you are doing, then glue the toppers on last.
If you are looking for a fun activity for the party, you could even let each child make their own pretend birthday cake. You could prepare basic white “cakes” out of boxes covered with white paper, then let the kids decorate it with paint, tissue paper, glitter, jewels, etc.
Like we talked about last week, food restrictions don’t have to keep you from throwing your child an awesome birthday party. Creating a fun foodless birthday cake is a great way to make your little one feel special and to celebrate another year and milestone.