When your baby needs a passport, you may find it easier to take the picture yourself. After all, who knows the little model better than you? Read on to learn how to take a baby passport photo.
How to Take a Baby ID Photo for a US Passport
1. Familiarize yourself with passport photo guidelines first.
First off, let’s review what the requirements for passport photos are so you know what you’re aiming for!
When submitting a passport application you need to submit one photo. Passport photos need to be:
– Clear and not blurry.
– On a white or off-white background. It needs to be a plain background (no patterns, etc).
– In color and current (taken within the last 6 months).
– 2×2 inches in size AND head size needs to be between 1-1 3/8″ from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head.
– Printed on matte or glossy photo quality paper.
You need a neutral facial expression, full-face to camera, eyes open. Now they say they make an exception for babies and eyes can be partially open or even closed. I will tell you that I had an eyes closed photo rejected, so aim for eyes open. Also, the dreaded “red eye” photos are not permitted.
2. Identify the time of day that your newborn is most likely to open their eyes and be alert.
The photo must be of the child facing the digital camera. Aim for eyes open if possible to avoid any drama with your local passport office. For us, this meant taking the picture in the morning right after a short nap in the car. We had a ten minute window before she would be screaming for a feeding and we
managed to catch her with eyes open. Another common baby trick is to cradle them and then raise them upright quickly, since it causes a natural reaction where babies flick their eyes open.
3. Dress your baby in a colored outfit for the perfect passport photo.
The background of your photo will be white and the baby’s outfit will need to stand out from the background. If your baby puts hands up near their face a lot, you may want to consider swaddling them in a colored blanket.
4. Gather these items for baby’s passport photo.
Gather a white sheet/piece of poster board or t-shirt and either a baby bouncer, car seat or bath seat. I also find that white tube socks or white receiving blankets come in handy.
5. Set up the picture.
Baby’s head needs to be on a white background. Personally, I have found it easiest to lay them flat with head facing up and take the photo from above. You can spread the white sheet on the floor or lie them on a white piece of poster board. If your baby is a newborn, he will likely not have enough head control for this. In this case, you can spread the white sheet in the car seat , bouncer or bath seat and set the baby down on top of it.
No one else can be in the photo. One trick I’ve used successfully is to roll receiving blankets (white ones) up and place on either side of the head to get the baby to look. Just make sure not to cover the ears. You can also put the blankets under a white sheet. Then put baby on top of the sheet.
I’ve also put white tube socks on my hands to hold a head in place. If you use this method, make sure to use a digital camera and carefully scan the photos to see if the socks blend with the white background before printing.
TravelingMom Tip: A light with a flexible neck can come in handy here to make sure that baby is well lit but that you aren’t casting shadows on the photo.
6. Minimize tricks to get them to look at the camera.
When folks take baby photos, they typically smile, coo, shake things and make faces. This is awesome for candid photos. However, infant passport photos should have a neutral expression. So try to use time of day to get baby to focus on you rather than other tricks.
7. Don’t expect too much.
This isn’t Glamour Shots. The photo may not look exactly like your adorable little one, but as long as you can see baby’s face and meet the other size requirements, you’ve won.
8. Order passport photos online.
There are many sites to get the passport photos you’ve taken printed. Here are a few options:
- ePassport Photos- This service allows you to pick up locally or get the images shipped to you. Be aware that they do not proof your photos or offer much guidance on what is correct.
- MyPassportPhotos.com- This website works well for folks who may need to submit passport photos for other countries or for visas as well. Their easy drop down menu has proper sizing for numerous nations.
- Walmart- For around $8 you can order your images to pick up at your local Walmart. They have a neat tool that overlays your photo on a grid of requirements and it tells you if your photo is correct or not. I uploaded a photo that I knew wouldn’t work for a passport to see its advice. Walmart’s photo tool clearly indicates to me that my image will not work for a passport photo.
Where to Go to Get Passport Photos Taken
If you decide forgo DIY passport photos, I recommend your local AAA office. If you’re a Plus Member, you get one set free per family member every year. Regular members pay $8 per photo set and non-members pay $15. Walgreens and the post office also do passport photos, but in my experience wait times and results there vary more. I’ve never had a photo rejected that was taken at AAA.
Bonus- if you also need to have a child’s passport photo taken, they’re great with kids. My 2 year old was extremely pleased with the lollipop bribery and took the photo much more easily for them than she would have for me!
Most drug stores and UPS stores also offer passport photo services. You can also get passport photos taken at many USPS locations. Check online before heading out.
To Read about Applying for an Expedited Passport for Your Newborn in a passport office click here.
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