Baby Hints & Tips

How to Give Your Child Eye Drops

how to give your child eye drops

Finding out that you have to give your child eyedrops can fill any parent with dread! Nobody enjoys an anxious, screaming or fighting little one when you’re trying to administer important medicine!

Here’s all the tips and resources you need to best handle giving your child eye drops  – plus some helpful tips shared by our online community.

Pharmacist’s advice on how to give your child eye drops

Tanya, our resident pharmacist: As a pharmacist I am frequently asked how to best give eye drops to children, this is my recommendations for parents: 

  1. If eye drops are in the fridge, remove for a few minutes to warm up by rolling between your hands – this will reduce the sting
  2. Wash hands first
  3. Place a finger with light pressure between the bridge of the nose and eye to stop the drops running into the nasal cavity
  4. Tilt your child’s head back or get them to lie down.
  5. Ask your child to close their eye and place one drop in the corner of their eye, alongside their nose, without the dropper touching the eye
  6. Child can now open eyes and drops will roll in. Blinking a few times will help.
  7. If any of the medication runs on to your child’s face, wipe it away with a clean tissue.
  8. Have a cuddle
  9. Wash your hands
  10. Check storage of eye drops. Only some eye drops are kept in the fridge.
  11. Keep out of reach of children
  12. Check expiry.  Most eye drops should be disposed of 1 month after opening.

Note: you should not share eye drops between children.

How to Store Eye Drops Safely

Great Ormond St Hospital for Children (United Kingdom) also encourages parents to be sure to store eye drops safely and provides these helpful tips:

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Ask your pharmacist about storing the medicine. Some need to be kept in the fridge but others only need to be kept out of direct sunlight.
  • Read the instructions on the label and only use the drops or spray in the affected eye(s). If you are given different drops for each eye, make sure you use the correct one for each.
  • Always check the expiry date of the medicine before you give it to your child.
  • Eye drops should be used within four weeks of opening or as instructed on the label. If you are giving your child eye drops for a certain number of days, write the date you open the bottle on the label so you know when to throw it away.
  • Some eye drops are packaged as single doses (minims) rather than in a bottle. Twist the top off the minim to give the dose then dispose of the container in your household rubbish. Do not keep it for the next dose.

If you’re still looking for more information about how to give your child eye drops you can also check out The Queensland Children’s Health Eye Drop Fact Sheet. 

How to give your child eye drops

Our community shared their experiences on how to give your children eye drops – here’s what they had to say*:

(Please note community responses are NOT medical advice and are only other parents sharing their own experience)

Eye ointment is easier for children than drops

  • Had the same problem with my 3 year old. Buy the chloromycetin eye ointment instead. You do not need a prescription. Great tip from a doctor was put the ointment on while they are sleeping and it works so much better because it soaks in and they don’t wipe it off! No battling with drops then. Tracy
  • No tips for the drops, unfortunately. Ask your doctor/pharmacist if you can swap for the ointment instead. Much easier! Mark

Put the eye drops in when your child is asleep or their eyes are closed

  • I was told by the doctor just to put the drops in the corner of the eye, it’s fine if their eyes are shut they’ll blink it there when they open their eyes. That worked for my son his eyes were clear in no time. Renee
  • I always did eye drops when my daughter is asleep. Jackie
  • Put the drops in the corner of his eyes while they are closed. When he opens them they go in. That’s how my grandma used to put her own eye drops in and I have done it since she told me. Easiest way! Catie
  • My doctor told me it’s ok if they shut their eyes, just put it in the corner of their eye and when they open they’ll blink it into their eye. Alison
  • My son just had eye surgery and needs drops 4 x a day. I was terrified but the nurse told us to wrap his arms by his side with a towel or light blanket to stop him from flailing and we just talk calmly then put drop in corner of his closed eye. We then gently talk about opening eyes and blinking till he does. A week in and he takes them like an angel. Afterwards we always have a cuddle and a little treat like a biscuit or a lolly as well. He is 3.5 yrs but has a lot of sensory issues especially about his head being touched. I hope your little one can relax and take the drops well. Kirri-lee
  • If you drop it on the eyelid when they open their eyes it goes in anyway. Danielle
  • My eldest needed a lot of drops when she was 2. Dr recommended this technique for us. Lay him down on his back. Try to drop a couple of eye drops on the eye even if lid is shut so that it pools in corner. Even if eye is closed it will still get into eye as he blinks.

Practice on yourself with saline first

  • If you are going to use drops I would recommend getting some saline drops from the chemist and practicing on yourself first until you can do it really quickly. I’ve got contact lenses so found that when my son needed drops I could get them in very fast but my husband was bloody hopeless.

Position your child’s body on yours when giving eye drops

  • I used to put my little ones head in my lap so it was tilting back a little. Hold something behind a little to open the eyes like a phone or toy then put the drops in fast. Let him watch my phone for a bit then give him a treat that he only got after he had his eye drops. Bianca
  • My daughter needed eye drops for conjunctivitis once as well. The doctor showed me how to lay her on the floor with her head between my thighs and arms under my knees. Put your ankles over the bottom of their legs. You then have 2 hands free and only takes a couple of seconds.

Wrap arms the child’s arms to give eye drops

  • Wrap bub in towel/sheet/blanket to keep arms down.

Let them pretend to put eye drops in your eyes or use a toy

  • Let them “pretend” on you first. Worked for eye drops, ear drops and nail clippers for my gal. Jane
  • I used to pretend to put it in his teddy’s eyes first. Or my own. That seemed to help. But I had to do it each time. It’s not always pleasant but as long as you know it’s going to help them it makes it easier. Good luck. Diana

Drink for after the eye drop are in

  • Give a yummy drink straight after. Most eye drops are bitter & you can taste it after down your throat (it is all connected) . I speak from experience, the drops I was on my me gag every time. .. yuck!! Sharyn

Share your tips for how to give your child eye drops below!

About the Author:

Tanya is a registered pharmacist and mother of 3 girls living in Western Australia. When she’s not wrangling her tribe or talking healthcare you’ll find her online at Baby Hints and Tips. This non-judgemental community is a hub for advice on all things pregnancy, baby, kids and parenting. Enjoy the support and fun at www.babyhintsandtips.com

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