Wanted: female infant, 26 inches tall, 12 pounds, brown eyes, and very little hair. Offense: refusing to smile in passport photo. Soon-to-be armed with a potentially explosive poop.

That should probably be how the description inside Avery’s passport reads. I think my kid is the cutest baby in the world, but her passport picture doesn’t necessarily reflect that. For one, she refused to smile. Secondly, I had to take her bow off, which any southern mama would agree is practically a sin.Parenthood and Passports - Baby Passport Phot

At 3 months old, I took Avery to get her first passport photo taken, since we were planning an international trip. She could hold her head up decently at that age, but could not yet sit on her own. So I held my baby with awkwardly out-stretched arms trying to keep both my body and my hands out of the shot. No other person, not even their hands, can be in a passport photo. (They were able to crop my hands out of the picture above.)

Apparently, the teenage clerk with the point-and-shoot camera didn’t care that my sweet girl is infinitely cuter when she smiles. He made no attempt to make her giggle or smile before the photo was snapped. So, the end result was a baby who looks mildly terrified, confused, and uncomfortable.

In all reality, I don’t think the picture is as bad as I jokingly tell the story. But I did learn a few lessons from my experience. If I had it to do over again, I guarantee my baby’s passport photo would have turned out a lot better.

Recommendations on taking a great infant passport photo

Parenthood and Passports - Traveling with a baby

  • Do it yourself. Lay your baby on a white sheet and take the photo from overhead. That way you do not have to worry about holding them up. Plus, you can take as many as you want and choose the best one. Make sure your baby is facing directly at the camera, and his or her eyes are open.
  • If you don’t want to do it yourself, take someone else with you. They can hold the baby or stand behind the camera to get a smile.
  • Read the rules ahead of time. No hats, bows, or glasses.
  • Crop the photo to the right size using the Department of State’s passport cropping tool then print two copies at home on a colored printer or get it printed out professionally.

Taking your baby’s passport photo really doesn’t require a lot of effort or time. In fact, doing it yourself will save you both time and money.

By the way, smile or no smile, I still think Avery is the cutest kid in the world.



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