If you’re traveling abroad with your infant, you’ll need to apply for a child passport before you go.  So, you’ll need to get acceptable passport photos. Many parents soon discover that getting a passport photo of a baby is more challenging than it sounds.  Here are the US Passport office’s requirements for infant passport photos:

  • The photos must be 2 inches by 2 inches.
  • The photos must have been taken within the past 6 months.
  • Baby must be facing forward, looking at the camera and set against a white or off-white background.
  • The size of the head in the picture must be between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches.
  • No hats, headgear or cute little baby bonnets, please.
  • The baby should have a “natural” expression-i.e. mouth closed, not laughing, screaming or crying.
  • The photo itself must be good quality, clear and in-focus.
  • The baby must be the only thing in the picture-nothing used to support the baby can appear in the picture’s frame. That includes you, your hands, your arm or your baby’s car seat.
  • Pacifier’s are a no-no.

If you have an older child, bribery with candy or a toy is usually sufficient to get them to sit still and look at the camera. But what if you have a baby? Newborn babies can’t hold their heads up on their own, they can’t yet understand or follow instructions, and they’re prone to either laughing, cooing or crying at exactly the wrong moment when you try to take their picture. It may seem like the passport office is asking you to work miracles, but there are a few tricks you can use to get acceptable photos, even with newborns.

Probably the easiest way to get passport office-worthy photos of your little one is to go to a professional photographer who specializes in photographing infants, as opposed to going to a drugstore or post office. Then, you can let the photographer handle it.  If that’s out of your budget, the following tips will help:

  • For babies who can’t sit up on their own, try laying them down on a piece of white poster board or on a white blanket on the ground. This eliminates the problem of trying to hold baby away from your body in such a way that your hands/arms aren’t visible in the picture.
  • Try to schedule your photo session when your baby is most likely to be in a good mood.
  • Stand behind the photographer, holding something that will attract your baby’s attention, like a favorite toy.
  • Expect to have to do several re-takes before you get a good shot.
  • If you’re taking your own passport photos, make sure that the stage is well-lit so that you don’t have to use a flash. Dark shadows cast on the background are a deal-breaker for the passport office.

If you need to travel within the next month, consider using a passport expediting service to submit your child’s passport application to the passport office. An expediting company like RushMyPassport.com can help you get your baby’s passport in as little as one day, if necessary!