Why Do Babies Rub Their Eyes and How To Prevent It?

Does Your Baby Rub His Eyes

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Babies rubbing their eyes is one of the cutest things for a parent to see. You are amused looking at the way her nose and face turns pink when she rub her eyes. But if you just stare at her and do nothing, it may not go well with the baby as she tries to communicate her condition through that act. It can indicate that she is sleepy, or tired or something else.

Babies, when they are 6 months of age or less, will try rubbing their faces against something if they feel itchy or tired.

Read on to know the reasons behind your baby rubbing her eyes.

Why Does Your Baby Rub Eyes?

1. Baby Is Sleepy:

If your baby rubs her eyes and yawns, it means that she is sleepy and tired. But, how does rubbing eyes help your child? When she is tired, her eyes are fatigued. Just like a massage helps in relieving sore muscles, rubbing eyes helps during fatigue. By doing so, she gets relief from the soreness and tension created in the muscles of the eyes, around the eyes and in the eyelids.

Preventive Measure: Watch your little one for signs of sleepiness and fatigue. Rubbing and yawning are common signs that indicate your baby requires a nap, says the Child Development Institute. If you notice these first signs of sleepiness, put your baby to sleep immediately to avoid fatigue (and eye rubbing).

Understand your baby’s sleep routine. Once a proper routine is set, ensure that she sleeps at a given time even if you are away from home. By doing so, you are not allowing your baby to turn tired. When there is no trigger, there will be no eye rubbing.

2. Eyes Are Dry:

Your baby may also rub her eyes when they turn too dry. The eyes are protected by a tear film, which evaporates when it is exposed to air for long time. This results in dry eyes, causing discomfort to your baby thus she instinctively tries to comfort herself by rubbing her eyes. Because rubbing eyes stimulates tears, which restore moisture in the eyes.

3. Baby Is Curious:

Besides sleepiness and tiredness, there are other possible causes why your baby may rub her eyes. You might have noticed how curious your baby is when she develops motor skills. If she has recently developed her motor skills, she may be experimenting by touching every part of her body to understand how her body will respond.

4. Baby Is Wondered Or Amazed:

When you notice that your baby is not tired and still rub her eyes, it may be due to the incredible visual stimulation she gets while doing so. She would have loved the feeling of closing her eyes, rubbing them and repeating it to see all those visual patterns. You might have also noticed that when you close and rub your eyes, you can see patterns and lights in the closed eyelids. It may be the reason for your baby’s interest to rub her eyes.

Preventive Measure: Divert her attention by showing her something more interesting than a light play she get (when she rub her eyes). As your baby’s attention span is short, she will get distracted easily.

5. There Is Something In Baby’s Eyes:

Your baby may also rub her eyes if there is something irritating in them. There could be crustiness around her eye or a fluff or bit of dust in her eyes. These particles irritate her so badly that she may want to vigorously rub her eyes. But in this case rubbing can cause more harm to your little one’s eyes as this may result in particle scratching the eye surface.

If eye rubbing is seen along with crying and eyes turning red, it is a definitive signal that there is some particle in your baby’s eyes. In this case, dip a cotton ball in cold water and squeeze over the eyes slowly to flush away the particle. Wipe off any crustiness using a clean cotton cloth. If your baby is still experiencing the irritation, you have to take her to a healthcare provider.

Caution: Don’t use the same cotton plug for both the eyes.

Preventive Measure: Do not leave your baby in a place where there is a lot dust flying around in the air. If it is inevitable, protect her eyes when you are in a dusty atmosphere.

How To Keep Babies Away From Rubbing Their Eyes?

To minimize injury and scratches to eyes, you need to stop your baby from rubbing her eyes. You need to protect her until she is mature enough to realize the negative effects of rubbing her eyes.

  • If your baby has a habit of rubbing her eyes, try covering her hands. The Stanford School of Medicine advises putting on baby shirts with full sleeves or baby mittens to cover her hands thoroughly. They will protect her when she is rubbing her eyes or scratching her face. You can also pull your baby’s long sleeve shirts to cover her hands so to avoid rubbing her eyes.
  • You can hold your little one’s hands away from her face, if you think she may rub her eyes. You can distract her by giving a toy or playing music so that her mind gets off from rubbing eyes.

The bottom line is, there is no need to panic or worry if you see your little one rubbing eyes.

Does your baby often rub her eyes? What have you done about it? Let us know through the comment section below.

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Rebecca Malachi

"I believe words have power. They are a powerful tool for a creative soul. Being a 'word addict', I express my thoughts and contribute articles on health, wellness and beauty. Apart from writing, I love listening to gospel music and enjoy observing nature in silence."
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