Doctors and pediatricians conclude that it is UNSAFE. Applying kajal in baby’s eyes is so intertwined with India’s tradition that it is almost impossible to ignore it as a myth. In almost all parts of India (and many parts of Middle East), kajal is applied in baby’s eyes from infant days. Most of us crawled and walked around with it when we were young. However, like many old beliefs, applying kajal has also come under the scrutiny of modern mommies who are by default cynical about going against pediatrician’s advice(which normally is to not use kajal). So let us explore into this topic a bit further.
Kajal in baby's eyes

  • Kajal And Your Baby’s Eyes – Is It Safe?
  • Is It Unsafe To Use Store Bought Kajal For My Baby?
  • What Are The Other Options Besides Kajal In Baby’s Eyes?
  • Home-Made Kajal Recipe For Babies

Why Do We Apply Kajal In Baby’s Eyes?

Traditionally, kajal was applied to baby’s eyes to:

  • Soothe and clean the eyes
  • Protect them against infections
  • Make them stand out and look more beautiful
  • Ward off evil eye

Made from soot of lamps of ghee and castor oil, almost every Indian family advises that kajal be applied to the baby’s eyes. All these reasons would make you go for that kajal, but you should know that none of the above stated beliefs are supported by any scientific evidence.

Is It Unsafe To Use Store Bought Kajal For My Baby?

Short and blunt – YES. In olden times, kajal was prepared at home. It was “organic” – like we would call it now. However, currently most moms just buy it off the shelf from shops. This comes with a set of problems:

  • Store brought kajal has high levels of lead. This not only affect your child’s eye, but also affect other organs like brain. Excess lead in the body (due to prolonged application) is known to result in anemia and lower IQ in children
  • The ingredients can cause redness, itchiness and irritation in baby’s eyes. It can also result in watery eyes
  • Your child might be allergic to it and it might trigger a whole set of allergic reactions
  • You can never be sure of the hygiene level with which the kajal was made
  • If your hands or nails are not clean or if you are not very careful when applying the kajal, it can hurt baby’s sensitive cornea, thereby impacting her vision

What Are The Other Options Besides Kajal In Baby’s Eyes?

Even when evidence suggests otherwise, you might have your parents, in-laws and many other ‘well-meaning’ relatives asking you to apply kajal if not for beautification, but for warding off evil eye (buri nazar). The argument, most often, is “We applied it on you. You turned out fine!” This might make you second guess as well. So here are couple of other options that you can try:

  • If “evil eye” is the concern, then you can apply a dot of kajal on baby’s upper forehead (towards one side) or under the feet
  • If you are insistent on using kajal in the eyes, it is best to:
    • Wait till your baby is slightly older
    • And even then, stay away from commercially available kajal and stick to home-made ones. Before you complain about lack of time and know-how, see our next section. It is quite easy to make kajal at home and does not require any fancy ingredient or apparatus

Kajal and baby

Home-Made Kajal Recipe For Babies

What you will need:

  • Two flat bottomed similar sized bowls (use steel or any other heat resistant material; you can even use two steel glasses)
  • One thick plate (preferably made of brass, or any thick plate will do)
  • Castor oil (enough to burn a diya)
  • Diya and a wick (to put in diya)
  • Matchbox
  • Ghee (few drops)
  • Knife
  • Small box for storing kajal

Making Kajal At Home

  • Invert both the bowls and place them on the floor leaving a small gap in between
  • Invert the plate and place it on top of the two bowls, thus creating a bridge like structure. It is important to use flat bottomed bowls so that the plate can balance on it (as opposed to round bottom ones)
  • Pour castor oil in the diya and place the wick. Now light it carefully and place it under the bridge, below the plate
  • Check the height. The fire from the diya should be touching the plate. If this is not the case, then you might have to use smaller bowls to decrease the height of the bridge
  • Wait 20 minutes
  • Carefully lift the plate, taking extra caution not to burn yourself
  • You will see black soot collected on the plate’s surface
  • Scrap it with a knife into the small box chosen for storage
  • Add few drops of ghee to make it into a smooth paste
  • Store it!

Make sure you do this when your little one is sleeping or not around to snoop around the fire.