Toddlers often rub and touch their eyes with hands that are not clean which can make them prone to infection or irritation. Cleansing your toddler’s eyes is an important part of keeping them looking and feeling healthy. It can seem scary for both you and your child but approached calmly and gently it will soon be a safe and regular part of your toddler’s bathing routine.
- Toddlers do not like to sit or lie still for long so prepare well by gathering all you need in one place:
- Two soft wash cloths
- Warm water ideally running water from the sink (be sure this is lukewarm only)
- A no-tears formula shampoo or baby wash
- A soft towel to pat dry your toddler’s clean eyes and face
- Tell your toddler what you are going to do, explain it is an important part of their bathing routine and that it will not hurt them. Make sure they are relaxed and not distracted by television or other children; a quiet environment is important but favorite music or story CD, or singing and chatting to them can be helpful.
- Have your child sit or lie down and dampen the washcloth; let your child feel the temperature of the washcloth on their cheek or forehead so that they can feel it is not too hot and that it is soft.
- Gently wipe the first eye around and over the closed eye outwards from the nose to the corner of the eye. This will pick up any discharge or dirt and sweep it safely away from the eye. Repeat for both eyes but use the second wash cloth for the second eye in case there is any infection as it will spread from eye to eye if you use the same one.
- No-tears formula baby wash very diluted can help if the eye has stubborn dirt or if discharge is dried on and needs a little extra help to cleanse it away. Always finish the final wipe using water only.
- Use a dry part of the washcloth or a soft towel to gently dry the eyes.
- Reward your child with praise for being so good and staying still.
Use the eye cleansing process to check your child’s eyes for signs of redness or irritation. Some discharge is normal especially on waking from a night’s sleep but if the discharge is more than normal, seems discolored or is irritating your child it may be a sign of allergy, of a foreign body such as an eyelash or dirt, or an infection such as conjunctivitis. See your child’s doctor if you suspect infection for a professional diagnosis.