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How to get a Passport for Baby

Flying with baby can be difficult enough as it is, but add in an international flight, and there are plenty more hoops to jump through – the largest being obtaining a passport. Every U.S. citizen, regardless of age, has to have a valid passport to travel to and from foreign countries. With the ever-changing rules and regulations, it can be a tiring process. So, where do you start?

Here’s a step by step look at what you’ll need to do to get baby’s passport:

  • Get baby’s passport photo. Ditch the cute bows and fun props, photo requirements are extremely strict and failure to meet the requirements could cause a delay in receiving baby’s passport. It is suggested to get the photo taken by a professional passport photo service for a small fee; however, personal photos are just as acceptable. If you do choose to take the photo personally, be sure the color photo displays a clear view of baby’s face with open eyes and a visible hairline, all in front of a white background. The photo should be no bigger than 2 x 2 inches with the head being 1 inch to 1 ¾ inch.
  • Fill out the DS-11 form. You can find the form at the Department of State’s Travel site. While filling out the form, be sure to hold off on signatures until you are physically submitting the application at a local passport facility.
  • Gather all necessary materials. Prior to visiting your local passport facility, be sure you have the application, the passport photos (take a few in case one doesn’t work), baby’s proof of U.S. citizenship, photocopies of both guardians’ ID’s, and a certified copy of baby’s birth certificate. Both parents’ must also have photo ID readily available when at the facility. To find the nearest passport acceptance facility near you, click here.
  • Submit application. The U.S. Department of State requires both parents or legal guardians to attend the application process. If a parent cannot attend, a notarized Statement of Consent must be filled out prior to submission. If you are the sole parent-whether by death or through legal custody-you must submit proof.
  • Pay the passport fee. If expediting the application process, the fee will increase by $60.
  • Wait for passport to arrive! Though processing times vary depending on the season, it typically takes around two months.

Safe travels!  For more information, you can visit  the U.S. Department of State Travel website.

If you’re gearing up for a long flight with your little one soon, you may also want to read Flying with Baby: A Go-To Guide for a Smooth Flight.

 

 

Family Road Trip Tips: Keeping Kids Entertained

Ah…the holidays…a time to be thankful, to rest, to enjoy quality time with loved ones, and to be trapped in the car with family for potentially hours on end.  Did I say that? I meant, to sing and laugh in the car for hours on end-surely that’s what I meant.

For most of us, traveling is inevitable during the holiday season. If hitting the road is on the horizon for you and your family, here are a few road trip tips to keep your little ones happy and entertained:

  • Save yourself the frustration and check traffic and construction schedules before heading out the door.  There is a fairly small window of time before the kids start getting restless in the car; don’t spend it sitting in traffic!
  • Pack the car efficiently so that:
    • The cooler, snacks, and baby bag (if applicable) are easily accessible.  Hint: A spare set of clothes readily available for baby (or you) is never a bad idea.
    •  You can easily keep an eye on the little ones in the backseat.
    • The windows are visible.  Staring out the window can help anyone who suffers from motion sickness-big or small.  Have a plastic bag on hand in case your little one starts to feel sick (check for holes ahead of time!).
  • Pack snacks and drinks.  Pack bags of dry snack foods or bite-size pieces of fruit like grapes as a quick and healthy option.  Also, though you may want to minimize the consumption of liquid on the road, it’s always handy to have drinks at the ready.  You will have less fussy (and messy) traveling companions if you prepare ahead of time.
  • Bring along some toys and activities.  If you’re in need of some stimulating toys that are equipped for travel, check out these entertaining toys for baby or your tot!

Are we there yet?  No.

  • Bust out the games.  ISpy, Twenty Questions, the License Plate Game, or the Alphabet game are all classics that can keep the boredom at bay and offset any temper tantrum lurking in the distance.

…Are we there yet now?  No, one more tip.

  • Embrace technology.  To lessen the “are we there yet?” phrase that has plagued every road trip with anyone, ever, prepare for even more downtime.  If the classic games and sing-alongs were done and over with 50 miles ago, it’s time for a technological upgrade.  Download some apps before hitting the road.  From music, movies, games, and locator apps (A MUST if you ask me, you can locate the cheapest gas station nearby or find the nearest rest stop!), the smartphone/tablet can truly be a lifesaver.  Start perusing the app store and see what gold you can find before venturing out on the road, many of which you can download for free!

What family road trip tips do you have for keeping the kids entertained?

Flying instead? Check out our Go-To Guide for a Smooth Flight.

Driving Safety Tips to Keep Kids Safe

I may be one of the few but I can honestly say I enjoy my daily commute.  Granted, I am not exempt from the traffic and the rage that occasionally comes with it-okay, you got me!  That always comes with it-but, I do enjoy hopping on the highway and cruising to my destination.  I almost find it to be calming, always plotting my next move, constantly surveying the scene, and deciphering how I can safely weave through traffic.  With kids however, that sense of calm flies out the window, usually replaced with lone Cheerios, sticky door handles, shrill screaming, and kids songs on repeat.  But gosh, are they cute!

Keeping kids safe while driving is a parent’s number one concern for obvious reasons.  What used to be a peaceful drive can be stressful as not only are the surrounding cars unpredictable, but so are the mood swings of the little guy(s) in the backseat.  To keep your precious cargo safe while driving, here are a few safety tips:

  It goes without saying, everyone should buckle up, and I mean everyone.  Kids are impressionable, at a surprisingly young age they absorb more than we might like, even about that conversation regarding a certain toupee your uncle secretly wears.  Set a good example and be safe in the process!

  Put the phone down. That text or conversation can wait, especially when you have your own personal conversationalist(s) chatting it up in the backseat.  If you absolutely must, use a Bluetooth.

  Be aware of your surroundings, and not just in the backseat.  Note speed limit changes, that pesky car who seemingly loves driving in your blind spot, construction zones, pedestrians, etc.

  Drive defensively and keep at a safe distance.  Consistent with the previous tip, always be on the defense and plan for an escape route.  By traveling 3 seconds behind the car in front of you – thanks Drivers Ed. – you’ll be at a safer distance to avoid an accident.

  Be organized.  Sure, lots of toys and activities are great for road trips with the kids, but physics tells us those things are going to go flying if not secured during an accident.  Protect your children as well as yourself and consider a cargo net when toys are not in use.

  Mediate later.  You know what I’m talking about.  There’s the temper tantrum, the crying, the screaming, or the ever favorite occasional airborne object.  If you can, confront the issue when not operating a vehicle.  If your kids are old enough to understand, explain to them prior to departure that you need to be safe on the road.  In order to do that, they need to help you keep everyone safe by practicing good behavior.  Turn it into a game if you want!  Just remember to take a breath and keep calm; it’s much harder to concentrate on the road when flustered!

Let’s just be thankful for child-lock windows…

What driving safety tips work for you?  Any interesting/funny stories to rehash?  Share it here!

Flying with Baby: A Go-To Guide for a Smooth Flight

Sigh.  We have all been there at one point.  Before we even board the plane, we scan through the audience, hoping that we don’t wind up sitting next to that precious little baby turned mad inside a confined airplane, unless of course, we are the one holding that precious little baby…  Traveling with infants is a stressful situation, and with the holidays approaching, a flight may be inevitable.  So, how can you make it more bearable?

Here is some advice for a smooth flight when flying with baby:

  1. Try to nab a flight that fits in line with your daily routine.  If you can get a flight that aligns closely with your baby’s nap-time, book it!
  2. Conversely, break routine, just ever so slightly.
    1. Allow less time for naps prior to the flight.  If they have to nap before, make it a short one so that they will be sleepy on the plane.
    2. Feed your baby less prior to flight time.  Not only will this keep your little one busy for awhile (hopefully resulting in a peaceful slumber), but swallowing during a flight (especially during take-off and landing) really helps keep popped ears at bay.  Consider packing a Boon Snack Ball which doubles as a toy and container or the fun and healthy fresh food feeder named The Nibbler.   Even when it’s not feeding time, something for them to suck on so that they do swallow throughout the flight will help those precious little ears tremendously.
  3. Choose your seat.  If you call the airline ahead of time, you may be able to request a seat with a bassinet.  It will make traveling with your little one much easier.  Also, grabbing an aisle seat might be best as you may want to get up often and walk with baby.  On the other hand, grabbing a window seat might be the better option if you plan to breast feed and would like some privacy.  *Check with your airline prior to the flight as policy regarding breast feeding on the plane differs by airline.  If you get a written form of approval before the flight, bring it with you in case a flight attendant/passenger raises concern.  Another basic rule-of-thumb, wear comfortable clothing that will allow you to breastfeed discreetly and bring along a blanket/breastfeeding cover.
  4. Toys galore.  Bring new toys and fun activities for them to play with on the plane.  The more sensory options to keep them occupied, the better.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, especially if you are flying alone.  Most flight attendants will be more than happy to help minimize the burden by grabbing some water for formula, setting up the changing table in the restroom, holding your baby while you use the restroom, etc.
  6. Worried about their safety?  Check out the Baby B’Air Flight Vest.
  7. If your budget allows for it, paying for an extra seat might be exactly what the doctor ordered.  Most airlines require that you to pay for a seat if your child is two or older, but having space for baby to kick around and play with toys might be the best splurge you ever indulged in.  Can’t afford the luxury?  If you are traveling with your spouse/partner/a friend, make sure you’re sitting next to them so that you have a little extra room to move around.
  8. Don’t forget about Big Bro and/or Big Sis.  If baby is just a portion of your family, it can be overwhelming and downright near impossible to maintain control of your kiddos.  Make sure to bring lots of quiet activities for them to work on, plenty of snacks for them to munch on, and maybe a pillow for them to kick instead of the seat in front of them. ;) Divide and conquer if traveling with your spouse so you can keep an eye on the crew.  And don’t underestimate the power of praise and a wings badge!
  9. And lastly, take a deep breath and forget the stress.  Babies get fussy and cry.  It’s a simple fact of life.  In fact, more than most of your fellow passengers are sympathizing with you.   Stay calm and don’t worry about a couple icy glares shot your way; you’ve got enough to deal with as it is.

Bon Voyage!

Did you find these tips helpful?  What worked for you to have a smooth flight?  Spill your secrets here!