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Why Does Your Baby Rub His Eyes And How To Prevent It?

4 min read

Is your little one rubbing his eyes a lot? Are you worried about how frequently he seems to be doing this? Are you concerned about him unintentionally causing some harm to his eyes? Are you looking for reasons behind this vigorous rubbing? Do you wonder what you can do to help your baby? Read on to get all the answers…
Baby rubbing her eyes

  • Why Does My Baby Rub His Eyes?
  • How Can I Prevent My Baby From Rubbing His Eyes?

Why Does My Baby Rub His Eyes?

  1. He is sleepy: Often times, the eye rubbing is accompanied by little yawns, indicating that your baby is tired and sleepy. How does rubbing the eyes help? You know how massage helps you when your muscle is sore? The eye rubbing during fatigue happens pretty much on the same principle. When he is rubbing his eyes, the tension in his eyes, around his eyes and in the lid relieves
  2. His eyes are dry: Another consequence of fatigue is that your baby’s eyes become too dry. Our eyes have a protective tear film in the front, which evaporates when exposed to air for a long time. This will result in eyes becoming dry. The dryness leads to discomfort and your baby is instinctively trying to sort out this problem with his rubbing. How? Rubbing leads to tearing, and his eyes get back its tear film!
  3. He is curious: You must have already noticed what a curious being your baby is. He must have recently developed his motor skills enough to rub his eyes and he must be just experimenting with this newly developed skill
  4. He is amazed or wondered: He must have liked the feeling he gets when he rubs his eyes and is doing it on a loop out of wonder. If you close your eyes in a well-lit room, you will be able to see patterns and light spots on your eye lids. May be this is what has sparked your baby’s interest!
  5. Something is in this eye: If a small particle of dust or eyelid falls into his eyes, then that causes a lot of irritation. Unfortunately, rubbing can cause more harm in this case as it can result in the particle scratching the surface of the eye. If the eye rubbing is accompanied with crying, and one of the eyes turning red, then that is a strong signal that something has fallen in his eye

Baby rubs her eyes

How Can I Prevent My Baby From Rubbing His Eyes?

1. When eye rubbing is due to tiredness:

Try to understand your baby’s natural cycle of sleep timings. Once a routine is established, stick to it, even if you are outside home. This way, you are not giving your baby a chance to feel fatigued. No trigger, no eye rubbing!

2. When eye rubbing is due to curiosity and/or wonder:

This is mostly harmless, however, if you are worried that the rubbing is too rough and it might result in his eyes getting hurt, then the best way to make him stop is to distract him. Find him something else to be curious about, show him a sight more beautiful that the light play when the eyelids are closed. Thankfully, your baby’s attention span is short and can be easily distracted

3. When eye rubbing is due to something in his eye:

One prevention tip here is to ensure baby is not in a place where there is a lot dust flying around in the air. We know that is difficult to achieve, but at least try to shield his eyes when in a dusty atmosphere. But if something does manage to fall into his eyes, you can wash his eyes with cold water (never use warm water inside the eyes) to get the irritant out

4. Other tips that might help:

    • Use mittens if the eye rubbing is leading to scabs around the eyes and nose
    • If you notice your baby is especially tired, then put him to sleep (even though it is not part of his routine) to avoid him rubbing eyes
    • If you see crustiness in the corner of the eye, dip some sterile cotton wool in warm water, squeeze out the extra water, and gently clean inner corners

Do not use same cotton ball for both eyes. Click here to read more on how to care for your baby’s eyes.
The bottom line is, there is nothing much to worry or panic if you notice your baby rubbing eyes. If you think that there is something bothering your baby, then ou could try washing his eyes and cleaning the area around the eyes as we explained above few times. If that does not reduce the redness, or if the redness or swelling increases with time, then it is best to consult a doctor. Even if there is no redness, if you are really concerned, or if you feel that your baby is really in discomfort when he is rubbing eyes, then it is a good idea to ask his doctor about the same.

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