Babies Rubbing Their Eyes - Causes and Preventive Measures

Is your baby most of the time rub his eyes? if yes, as a mother read out its major Causes and Preventive Measures you must take.

Babies Rubbing Their Eyes - Causes and Preventive Measures
Babies Rubbing Their Eyes - Causes and Preventive Measures

A baby rubbing its eyes is chiefly a sign of weariness and drowsiness. Recent researches have also shown that children could have eye fatigue which leads to eye rubbing owing to excessive use of digital devices such as smart phones early in life.


Here, we will tell you about the possible causes of eye rubbing in babies, precautionary measures for it and much more.


Why Does Your Baby Rub Eyes?


Besides sleepiness and tiredness, there are other probable causes why babies rub their eyes.


1.  curiousity


Babies tend to get curious when they develop fine motor skills. They experiment by touching every part of their body to understand how the body will respond.


2. Wonder or Amazement


When you notice that your baby is not tired and still rubs eyes, it may be because of the incredible visual stimulation they get while doing so. Babies love the feeling of closing their eyes, rubbing them, and repeating it to see all those visual patterns. You would have also observed that when you close and rub your eyes, you can see patterns and lights in the closed eyelids. It could be the reason why your baby rubs eyes often.


Preventive measure: Try to divert the attention of your baby by showing them something more interesting. As your baby’s attention period is short, they will get distracted easily.


3. Drowsiness


If babies rub their eyes and yawn, it is an indication that they are sleepy and tired. But how does rubbing eyes help your child? When babies get tired, their eyes are fatigued. Just as a massage helps in relieving sore muscles, rubbing eyes helps during fatigue. By doing so, the baby gets relief from soreness and tension created in the muscles of the eyes, around the eyes, and on the eyelids.


Preventive measure: Watch your little one for signs of sleepiness and fatigue. Rubbing and yawning are general symptoms which indicate that your baby requires a nap. If you notice these first signs of drowsiness, make your baby sleep immediately to avoid fatigue (and eye rubbing).


Understand your baby’s sleep routine. Once a proper routine is set, make sure that the baby sleeps at a given time even if you are away from home. By doing so, you are not allowing your baby to become tired.


4.  Dry Eyes


Babies may also rub their eyes when they become too dry. The eyes are protected by a tear film which evaporates when it is exposed to air for a long time. This leads to dry eyes, causing uneasiness to babies, and they instinctively attempt to comfort themselves by rubbing their eyes. Because rubbing eyes induce tears which restore moisture in the eyes.


5. If there is something in their eyes


Your baby may also rub their eyes if something is irritating them.  Crustiness around the eye, fluff, or a bit of dust can cause irritation. These particles can irritate the eye so much that the baby may need to rub the eyes vigorously. But in this case, rubbing can cause more trouble to your little one’s eyes as this may result in particle scratching the eye surface.


If rubbing of the eyes is observed along with crying and eyes turning red, it is almost certain that there is some particle in your baby’s eyes. In this case, soak a cotton ball in cool 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 facing irritation, take them to a doctor.


Precaution: Never use the same cotton plug for both the eyes.


Preventive measure: Never leave your baby in a place where there is a lot of dust floating around in the air. If it is indispensable, protect the eyes using baby sunglasses.


Redness Of Eyes Can Also Be Because Of Conjunctivitis Or Eye Flu.


In the case of conjunctivitis, sticky discharge is seen from the inner sides of the eyes as well as redness and watering of the eyes.


Precautionary Measures


  • Clean and wash the eyes with fresh tap water three to four times a day.


  • Use sterile cotton balls to clean the sticky discharge from the eyes.


  • Wait for a day or two; if the redness and discharge continue, then consult a doctor.



How to Stop Babies From Rubbing Their Eyes?


To minimize injuries and scratches to the eyes, it is necessary to prevent your baby from rubbing their eyes.


If your baby is in a habit of rubbing the eyes, cover their hands with mittens. It is also advised putting on baby shirts with full sleeves or baby mittens to cover the hands completely. You can also pull your baby’s long sleeve shirts to cover their hands to stop them from rubbing their eyes.



Awareness of the possible causes of eye rubbing in babies and preventive measures could help avoid injury or scratching of eyes due to excessive rubbing. It is also wise to know about the symptoms that might warrant medical intervention.


  • If the baby do not respond to flashing lights past the newborn stage.


  • Unless staring at an object, if the baby looks cross-eyed.


  • If the baby constantly has strange eye coloration in flash photographs.


  • Both eyes are functioning differently.


  • Reaction to bright light or an eye infection that does not seem to fade.


  • Need to tilt the head when trying to look at a specific object


  • Inability to follow a toy with eyes.


  • Drooping eyelids


  • Eye pain and itchiness


  • Constantly watery eyes


If you notice any of the above mentioned symptoms, it would be better to consult an eye specialist.


The bottom line is, there is nothing to get panic or worry if you see your little one rubbing their eyes. This could be a simple sign of sleepiness or eye fatigue. But if you notice some other strange symptoms like squint or poor eye movement and eye-hand coordination, pediatric consultation is suggested.


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