How to Clean a Toddler's Eyes

Whether it's crusty morning eyes or a severe eye infection, a toddler's eyes need to be kept clean and free of any particles and irritants. When you help your toddler keep her eyes clean, practice good hygiene yourself so germs don't transfer to your eyes. Follow these tips to keep your toddler's eyes clean.

Eliminate morning crust. When your toddler sleeps, irritants or discharge can form crusty particles that lodge in the corner of the eye, or sometimes just outside the eye. A gentle swipe of a wet washcloth is usually enough to get your toddler's eyes clean and ready for the day.

Note unusual discharge. If you see that your toddler's eyes seem to run with a gooey discharge, use soft, dry tissues to wipe it up. This kind of discharge is common if the toddler is suffering from a cold or sinus infection. Follow up with a warm, wet washcloth to soothe the eye area, but don't let the washcloth touch anything else as that could spread germs.

Clean up a blocked tear duct. If your toddler wakes up with one eye stuck shut but the eye is not red, it's likely a blocked tear duct. Use a warm, wet washcloth to wipe the eye from the inside corner out. Continue to wipe in that direction until the discharge is gone and your toddler can open her eye. After the eye is clean, gently massage the inner corner of her eye with your index finger for a few minutes at least twice a day to break up the blockage.

Conjunctivitis, or pink eye as it is commonly called, can cause one or both eyes to glue shut with discharge. Eyes will also be red and sore. Again, use the warm, wet washcloth to saturate the sticky discharge and soften it until her eyes open. Conjunctivitis can be viral, so a visit to the pediatrician usually results in antibiotics. You will then have to administer eye medication to clear her eyes up.

Preform an eye flush. If your toddler is exposed to an eye irritant or cuts or scratches her eye, use an eye flush. Have your toddler lean her eye down and to the side over the sick. Have her hold her eyelid open (you may need to assist) and pour cool water over her eye for 15 minutes.


Often a toddler won't sit still long enough to clean out her eyes. In this case, try playing peek-a-boo with the washcloth, taking gentle swipes at her eyes to wash them. Some toddlers may be more receptive if they can be part of the process. Allow your toddler to help clean her eyes if she is interested.


Wash your hands prior to cleaning your toddler's eyes. Conjunctivitis is highly contagious, so make sure that your toddler does not touch her eyes and then other objects. Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly after washing a toddler's eyes that are infected with conjunctivitis to prevent yourself from contracting it. Immediately launder any washcloths you use on a toddler's eyes that are infected with conjunctivitis.

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