A baby rubbing his eye is possibly the cutest thing you will see. Those tiny fists rubbing those round curious eyes are sure to tug at your heartstrings. But what if your baby is trying to tell you something while doing this? Usually, babies rub their eyes when they feel tired or sleepy, but in some cases, your baby might also be feeling pain due to some dust or an eyelash in her eye, or eye infection or even those dreaded allergies.
Your infant rubbing eyes can be a warning sign for all the above. You need to be alert so that you can do everything to help prevent your little one from accidentally hurting his or her eyes. We will look at some of the reasons why babies rub their eyes below.
Why Do Babies Rub Their Eyes?
There are several reasons why babies rub their eyes –
1. Baby Is Sleepy
Sometimes your baby rubbing her eyes may also be accompanied by a little yawn. This means that she is sleepy and tired. When you are tired, your eyes are fatigued. That’s why babies rub their eyes so that they can try and relieve some of the tension and soreness around the eye muscles and in the eyelids. Just like how a massage would feel. This indicates that its time for a good, long nap!
2. Eyes Are Dry
Your baby can also rub her eyes when they become too dry. A tear film covers the inside eye and evaporates if it gets exposed to air for a long time. This creates discomfort due to dryness of the eyes, and your baby may instinctively rub her eyes to relieve that discomfort. Especially since rubbing creates tears which bring back moisture to the eyes.
3. Baby Is Curious
You may notice that when you close your eyes and rub them, you see lights and patterns on the insides of your eyelid. Your little one may have recently developed the motor skills to rub her eyes and maybe experimenting with this new skill. She may also be amazed by the visual patterns she sees while rubbing her eyes and would be trying it over and over again to experience it.
4. There Is Something In Your Baby’s Eyes
Your baby can rub her eyes continuously if there is something in there that is irritating her. It may be specks of dust, an eyelash or dried mucus. It is important to note that even blinking or tears may be signs of this. If there is an irritant in your baby’s eyes, use a soft wet cloth to wipe the eye and face so that nothing else gets in. After that, use cold water to clean your baby’s eyes (never use warm water inside the eyes). Make sure someone is holding the baby’s head, or there is adequate support when you do this.
If you see something stuck in the corner of your baby’s eye, try using a warm, wet cloth or cotton swab to brush it out. If the tears and blinking persist after that, it might mean the foreign object is still stuck inside the eye. In that case, it is best to visit the doctor.
5. Painful or Itchy Eyes
Another reason for a baby rubbing her eyes might be due to allergies or an infection which may present itself through pain or itching. Symptoms that your baby has an eye infection may include swollen or reddish eyes, discharge, fever or continued crying. In such cases, it is better to consult a doctor so that he can correctly diagnose and treat your baby’s eye infection or allergy.
How Can You Prevent Your Baby From Rubbing Her Eyes?
You need to take some measures to prevent your baby from rubbing her eyes often, as it might cause injury or scratches to your little one’s eyes. Here are some ways to prevent it from happening –
- If your baby has a habit of rubbing eyes vigorously or she rubs eyes during breastfeeding, try covering her hands with mittens or dress her in a baby shirt with full sleeves. This will protect her when she is rubbing her eyes or scratching her face or body
- If you notice your little one rubbing her eyes and yawning, put her to sleep immediately. Establish a sleep routine for your baby and stick to it. Once your baby gets used to it, there will be no more tiredness and hence no more eye rubbing.
- To prevent foreign objects from getting inside your baby’s eyes, try not to leave your baby in a place where there is a lot of dust flying around. If you have to, then properly protect the baby’s eyes and nose when you are in a dusty area.
Do not worry or panic if you notice your baby rubbing his eyes. If you think something is bothering him, try washing the eyes and cleaning the area around them with the methods explained above. If that does not help with the redness, and the swelling persists, consult a doctor. If the eye- rubbing continues to a greater extent, even without redness or swelling, it is still better to visit the doctor once to be 100% sure that everything is alright. After all, no compromises should be taken when it is your baby in question!