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What Causes Infant’s Eyes to Become Watery?


Your baby’s eyes are watery. What gives? What causes infants’ eyes to become watery?

Your baby’s eyes could be watery for a variety of reasons. 

Environmental factors may be causing watery eyes, including irritants like smoke, dust, pollen, dirt, or sand. If an irritant like dirt or sand has gotten into your baby’s eye, you may need to flush it out. Follow these instructions to learn how:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly.
  • Do not touch the eyeball, and try to keep your baby from rubbing their eyes as well.
  • Tilt your baby’s head over a sink with the irritated eye down. Gently pull on the lower lid and encourage your child to open her eye as wide as possible. For babies, you may need a second person to help keep the eye open.
  • Gently run a stream of lukewarm water from a pitcher or the faucet.
  • Flush the eye for up to 15 minutes, checking every 5 minutes.
  • If you cannot flush out the irritant, or irritation continues after flushing, call your pediatrician.

Pink Eye

Watery eyes can also be caused by conjunctivitis, or pink eye. You should be able to tell the difference between watery eyes caused by pink eye, and watery eyes caused by other factors, as a baby with pink eye will also exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Redness or swelling of the white area of the eye.
  • Eye discharge (clear, yellow, white, or green).
  • Itchy, irritated, burning eyes.
  • Crusting on eyelids or eyelashes.
  • Watery eyes.

Blocked Tear Ducts 

If your baby consistently has watery eyes, this could be due to a blocked tear duct. Tears typically drain through the tear duct, but if the tear duct is blocked or can’t open, tears cannot drain from the eyes effectively. Blocked tear ducts can occur at any age, but they are most common in babies (they affect about 6 in 100 infants). 

What Causes Blocked Tear Ducts?

Blocked tear ducts are most commonly caused by the tissue at the end of the tear duct failing to open normally. For many babies, the tear ducts do not fully open the first few month of life, causing a build up of tears in the eyes (hence, your baby’s watery eyes). 

However, they can also be caused by:

  • Infections.
  • Uncommon growth of the nasal bone.
  • Closed or undeveloped openings in the corners of the eye.

Remember, too, that your infant’s eyes ducts are tiny, so they’re easily blocked. Anything that causes a baby’s nose to swell, like a cold, or excessive crying, can temporarily cause blocked tear ducts.

Treating a Blocked Tear Duct

Thankfully, most blocked tear ducts will clear up on their own and require no additional treatment. To prevent infection while you wait, be sure to:

  • Keep the eye clean by gently wiping away drainage with a moistened cotton ball or warm wash cloth.
  • Gently massage the area of blockage (if recommended by your doctor).
  • Limit time in the wind, cold, or sunlight.
  • Wash your hands before and after touching the eye area.

And to help support your baby’s eye health – and her overall health – try these products from Earth Mama Organics, Trillium Organics, and Carlson Labs.

Earth Mama Organics

Keep your baby’s eyes safe from irritation from harsh soaps in the bath; try Simply Non-Scents from Earth Mama Organics instead. Simply Non-Scents Baby Wash from Earth Mama Organics is a gentle castile-based liquid soap that’s truly unscented. With soothing calendula for snuggly newborns, pregnant mamas, and everyone inbetween, Simply Non-Scents is gentle on eyes.

Trillium Organics

Treat your baby’s skin gently, too, with OG Baby Gentle Soap from Trillium Organics. OG baby organic baby soap from Trillium Organics is an organic paraben free baby soap that is a great gentle fragrance-free soap designed for babies and infants with sensitive skin. 

Carlson Labs

And when it comes to D3 supplements, try Carlson LabsBaby’s Super Daily D3 400 IU Vitamin D Liquid drops. This liquid supplement provides easy-to-use liquid vitamin D3 (with added vitamin E) for the smallest and youngest members of your family. Contains no sugar, corn, wheat, gluten, preservatives, or dyes. 

How do you support your baby’s health at home?