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As a newborn my baby never had tears when he cried, but as he gets older he seems to have tears in his eyes a lot. Sometimes I think he is upset and he is actually fine. Is this normal?

Newborn babies only start to produce tears after a month or so. Tears are produced by a gland and are actually the fluid that lubricates the eye. Excess tears drain through ducts in the inner corner of each eye and into the nose. Babies have very tiny ducts and so the possibility of blockage exists. In this case the excess fluid is unable to drain away and so the eyes take on a teary appearance. This is probably why your baby appears to be crying when he is not.

Generally the blockage will disappear on its own by the time the baby reaches the age of around 1. Although this is usually not a problem, you should mention this situation to your doctor or health worker at your next appointment and ask them to show you a gentle massage technique to help release the blockage.

If you do use this technique, you need to be scrupulous with your hygiene and make sure your hands are clean. The massage should not make the baby’s eyes red or puffy, and if this occurs you should take the baby to the doctor. The other signs of problems are if one eye has a different appearance to the other, or if you baby seems sensitive to light. Again these are reasons for a doctor’s visit.

When the ducts are blocked, mucous can build up in the corner of the eye, especially after a sleep. Enough mucous can accumulate to stick the eyelid together. This is not problematic as long as the mucous is white or yellowish. The eye should be cleaned using boiled and cooled water and sterile cottonwool. However if the mucous is dark and the eye looks red or irritated, then a doctor should be consulted. Generally antibiotic drops or cream will clear up any infection, but it is important to get it seen to as soon as you notice a problem.

See also:

Eyes - Squint

 
   
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