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Archive for February, 2018

Passports for new-born babies

Passports for babies

Depending on how close your baby is born to your holiday date, it is sensible to apply for their first passport in plenty of time. Typically, it takes 3 weeks to get a passport – if urgent there is also a fast-track service you can use.

It is important to go to the official Identity & Passport Service website (see link Other ‘unofficial’ websites may appear on google search due to advertising. However, despite claiming they can help you through the application process this usually comes at and additional cost.

The online form is pretty straight forward. Requiring standard information about yourself, your partner and your new bundle of joy. The form is then processed by the Identity and Passport Service, printed and then sent back to you to finish. This includes counter-signing and attaching your relevant ID and photos. Normally, it takes around a week for the initial online form to be mailed back to you.

Note: There is also a chance for you to rectify any mistakes you’ve made when filling out the online form.

How to take baby’s passport photo:

It may seem like an impossible task, to get your new-born baby looking at the camera with no arms or toys in the way. To read through the official Identity and Passport Service photo requirements see link

You can take the photo one of two ways:

  • Go to your local, professional passport photo provider such as Boots, Snappy Snaps etc. and they will take your baby’s passport photo.
  • Do it yourselves, at home. Create DIY a backdrop by laying your baby on the floor with an off white sheet underneath them.

How to get your baby’s passport photo perfect:

  • If taking the photo with your baby on a white sheet as mentioned above, it’s important to remove any creases.
  • The baby’s head and BOTH ears have to be in shot.
  • Arms need to be away from the head area.
  • Babies must not be holding toys or using dummies.
  • Take the photo from about 1.5m away and include your baby from about their tummy upwards.
  • There must be a space above the baby’s head in the photo.

Note: If your baby is less than 1-year-old they do not need to have their eyes open.

You can then upload you pictures online and get them printed. There are numerous websites that offer a printing service such as Frame Lizard and Snappy Snaps.

How much will it cost:

It costs £46 to get a child’s first passport or £55.75 if you use the Check and Send service. You can also pay an additional £3 for your ID to be returned via secure post. You must pay by credit or debit card if you fill in the form online.

If you fill in a paper application form, you can either send your credit or debit card details or alternatively include a cheque or postal order payable to ‘Her Majesty’s Passport Office’.

After you have taken your passport photos and had them printed you will need someone to counter sign them. Here are official details regarding your countersignatory

Note: The person counter signing the photos needs to supply their passport number too.

When sending off your complete application and necessary documents make sure you include a certified copy of the birth certificate with you and your partners name and occupation on it rather than a copy with just your baby’s details on it. This isn’t made particularly clear in the documentation sent by the Identity & Passport service.

How to travel abroad with a child whose surname is different from yours:

As a precaution against child abduction, if you are travelling abroad with a child and you are not that child’s parent, or if you and the child have different surnames, you may need to bring extra documents with you to establish your relationship.

Although not compulsory (see below for exceptions) carrying certain documents or evidence can speed up the process at boarder control.

According to the Home Office, examples of evidence would include:

  • a copy of a birth or adoption certificate showing your relationship with the child
  • divorce or marriage certificates if you are the parent but have a different surname.
  • a letter from one or both of the child’s parents, with contact details, giving consent for the child to travel with you (even if, for example, you are a grandparent and have the same surname).

Note: Full details of regulations that apply at the UK border are on the UK Border Agency website,

It could also be beneficial to contact the airline you are flying with to seek advice.

Letters of authority or consent

If you are travelling with children and are not their parent, it may be wise to bring a letter of consent from the child’s parents. Once again, while a letter is not compulsory, it can simplify interviews at boarder control. The letter will include consent from the child’s parents stating that the child has permission to travel abroad with the person accompanying them.

Be mindful that carrying a consent letter may not guarantee that the child will be allowed to travel abroad; every country has its own requirements for children travelling without their parent(s).

Make sure to check the specific requirements of the country to which you are travelling (Full list of foreign embassies in the UK).

Note: Visit the Home Office website for a letter template to follow. It is also imperative to sign the letter, and get it witnessed by a solicitor.

Special requirements of specific countries

South Africa has explicit requirements for parents travelling there with minors. For full details of requirements for travel to South Africa, please see

Botswana has now adopted similar rules when travelling with children. See full requirements

The USA requires children under the age of 18 travelling to or from the USA to carry a notarized consent letter from their parents or legal guardians.

Canada requires the same consent documents as the US for children under the age of 19.

  • If a child or teenager is travelling with only one parent or guardian, a notarized consent letter from the parent/guardian who is not travelling with them is required.
  • If a parent/legal guardian has sole custody, then proof of sole custody must be presented.
    Children and teenagers who cannot produce proper consent letters may be refused boarding.

Note: it’s your job to establish the latest requirements.

While many airlines remind make you aware of certain destinations’ specific requirements, they are not obliged to. It is the passenger’s responsibility to find out about current entry and exit requirements and to carry the appropriate documents with them.

Holiday First Aid Kit

Holiday First Aid Kit for kids

Accidents can happen at any time, so it’s extremely important that you’re prepared for them. Not all medical emergencies need to go through a GP or doctor; many small accidents, such as grazes, blisters and splinters, can be treated instantly with the help of a first aid kit.

We asked Dr Lotte Newman, a St John Ambulance Medical Advisor, about the importance of first aid kits:

“Having a fully stocked first aid kit on hand can make all the difference when an accident happens, whether it’s in the home, on the road, on holiday or in the workplace. The kit should be kept in a convenient location, with items being replaced immediately after they have been used. It’s also important to regularly check the kits to ensure that the appropriate items are not out of date. Coupled with a knowledge of first aid, using a first aid kit could mean the difference between life and death.”

So, having a first aid kit about you is basically essential. It’s probably the most essential item in your holiday suitcase. Below is a guide to exactly what you need to pack in your first aid kit when you’re packing for a holiday.


1. Thermometer

You can get so many varieties of thermometers, such as glass sticks, plastic, and the newer sticky forehead strips which are easy to read. They’re particularly useful for babies and young children. There are also digital ear thermometers which give you accurate readings in no time.

Note: Normal body temperate is 37 degrees Celsius and any value above 38 degrees is defined as a fever.

2. Antiseptic

This is vital for skin injuries which cause the skin to break, such as cuts, bites and stings, since it is easy for germs to enter the bloodstream through these injuries. Antiseptic comes in different forms:

  • Solutions contain germ-killing agents; the most popular brands are Dettol Wound Wash, TCP and Savlon. Make sure your supply is in date and that the lid is securely fastened in order to prevent contamination. Apply the solution using sterile cotton wool. For smaller injuries, wash the wound with clean running water first, before using the solution to protect it against infection. Once cleaned and dried, apply a plaster or dressing to the area to cover it.
  • Sprays usually contain mild, fast-acting local anaesthetic to relieve pain from minor burns, bites, stings and grazes.
  • Wipes are a more practical way to clean cuts and grazes while also preventing infection. Take a fresh wipe and begin cleaning the wound by gently removing dirt and germs in an outward direction from the wound.

3. Eye wash

For these solutions, it’s best to carry small, individually packed solutions, as larger packs may get contaminated. Break the seal and squeeze the vial to allow the eye wash to thoroughly rinse the eye. Do not use them if their seal is broken. An alternative to the eye wash is boiled water that has been cooled down.

4. Plasters

Plasters are multipurpose essentials that come in various shapes and sizes. You could pack a variety of them:

  • Fabric: For long-lasting protection with extra sticking power.
  • Waterproof: Allow air to pass but prevent water and germs coming into contact with skin.
  • Hypoallergenic: Suitable for sensitive skin, easily removable.
  • Haemostatic: Help to stop bleeding and promote the clotting function of blood.
  • Cushioned: Provide extra protection against knocks and bumps.
  • Blister plasters: Specialised plasters for healing blisters. The blister area must be clean and dry and the plaster should be applied so that the blister is in the centre. If the blister does not heal or becomes infected, you should seek medical attention.

5. Dressings

Dressings are used to cover bigger wounds. They are like plasters, but provide extra cover and protection because they are larger. There are different types of dressings for different purposes:

  • Hydrocolloid: Used for small cuts and grazes which bleed continuously, as these dressings are designed to absorb excess fluid.
  • Waterproof film: Clear dressing for dry wounds, simply to keep water out while you monitor the healing process through the transparent film.
  • Skin closures: Thin and sticky antiseptic strips designed to hold the edges of deep cuts and grazes together.

Minor cuts and grazes, that are not continuously bleeding, should be cleaned under cold running water, sterilised with antiseptic and covered with a plaster or dressing after drying the area.

Minor burns and scalds should be cooled under rapidly running cold water for ten minutes and covered with a sterile non-fluffy dressing.

6. Antihistamines

These chemicals provide fast-acting relief against mild allergic reactions like hay fever. They are usually taken to relieve symptoms such as sneezing, itching, watery eyes or a runny nose. The best companies are Piriton and Zirtec, with one tablet providing 24-hour relief and is suitable for children over 6 years. Antihistamines are also available as creams; these reduce swelling and soothe insect bites and stings.

7. Painkillers

These are absolutely essential as a headache or muscle cramps can begin at any time. They include Paracetamol, Aspirin and Junior syrup pain relief. Paracetamol is often recommended by doctors for fast-acting pain relief and is suitable for several problems, including fever, cold, flu and muscle pain. However, it is important to stick to the appropriate dose as given on the box.

Aspirin may cause stomach irritation for some people, especially if taken on an empty stomach, and has been linked with Reyes Syndrome in some childhood illnesses. Children should be given junior preparations such as Calpol.

Ensure that the painkillers are stored in a clean, dry place and that they are in date. For administering children’s preparations, you should pack a 5ml dose spoon or cup.

8. Rehydration solution

These come as sachets of powder containing a mixture of salts and sugars, and is dissolved in water and drunk in the event of sickness or diarrhoea.

9. Travel sickness pills

These are especially important for people who are prone to travel sickness. Popular companies are Quells and Kalms. You can now also get travel band bracelets which work on pressure points on your wrists and are especially useful for drivers or someone who needs to stay awake as they do not cause drowsiness.

A great natural remedy for motion sickness is ginger; ginger biscuits or grated ginger wrapped in cling film to chew on during a journey are always a good idea to pack.


Latex gloves

When giving someone first aid, you must ensure that you are not adding to the risk of infection, for the injured person and for yourself. Keep a pair of latex gloves in your kit and use them when dealing with blood or vomit in particular.

Sharp scissors and safety pins
Always keep a clean pair of scissors and clean pins in your first aid kit in case you need them.


Tweezers are handy in case you need to remove small pieces of wood, metal or glass stuck in the skin. Sterilize the area and use the tweezers to pull out the splinter. Next, gently squeeze the wound and clean any fluid, and cover the area with a plaster. If you cannot remove the splinter, seek medical advice.

Crepe and support bandages

These bandages are useful in the event of a strain or sprain. The way to put them on is by slightly elevating the limb to a resting position and applying an ice pack. The bandage would be wrapped or pulled over the ice compress to help reduce pain and swelling. Applying Arnica cream can help reduce bruising and inflammation.

Ice pack or gel packs

These should be stored in the fridge and taken out only when needed. Apply them to bumps or bruises to reduce swelling. You could even use a pack of frozen peas instead, but make sure to wrap it in a clean tea towel before using it on the skin, as direct contact with ice can cause a cold burn.

Calamine lotion

This is used to soothe irritated skin, rashes and sunburn. You can also get gels and mousses for more severe rashes, like with chickenpox.

Giving Paracetamol and Ibuprofen to your child

Liquid forms of both paracetamol and ibuprofen can be found in pharmacies and supermarkets that are suitable for babies and young children. Use an oral syringe to measure and administer the medicine to your child.

  • Older children may be able to swallow the tablets with water.
  • There are also soluble tablets available, which are only suited to children aged 12 or over.
  • Remember, keep all medicines out of children’s reach and sight.

Emergency contact numbers:

Be sure to have the following contact information if you’re traveling abroad, in case you experience a serious medical problem:

  • Emergency phone number for ambulance
  • Phone number and address of the nearest hospital to where you’re staying
  • Phone number of your hotel or accommodation manager who may help in the event of an emergency.

Don’t hesitate to seek urgent medical help if the person has:

  • Stopped breathing
  • Is unconscious and if their lips are going blue.
  • Has a deep wound, or is bleeding badly.
  • Has a serious burn or chemicals in their eyes.
  • Consumed something poisonous.
  • Broken a bone.
  • Been bitten by an animal or snake.
  • Punctured an eye or ear.