Getting eyedrops into children the easy way

The Pediatric Insider

© 2014 Roy Benaroch, MD

Getting drops into the eyes of a baby or toddler can be as difficult as wrestling with an octopus. They’re squirmy, fast, and moist– and there’s always another hand leaping out to push you away.

There’s a better way.

Note: this is a great method for eye drops that don’t have to be measured precisely, like ordinary drops for pink-eye (conjunctivitis) or OTC allergy eye drops. If your child has eye inflammation (uveiitis) or glaucoma or some other kind of serious eye condition for which drops were prescribed by an ophthalmologist, use the exact dose in the exact way prescribed.

  1. Open up the bottle and have it handy
  2. Lay the child down on a bed or changing table, face up
  3. Say “now, close your eyes.”  (It doesn’t actually matter if the child closes his eyes at this point, but it is easier if he does.)
  4. Drop a few drops in the corner of one or both eyes. The drops should just sit there like a little lake between the nose and the corner of the eye.
  5. Say “open your eyes”, or blow in Junior’s face to surprise him. You could even say something like, “Look, a baby wolf.” The idea here is to get the child to open his own eyes.
  6. The drops fall in.

A few other tips:

Hopefully, your doc has chosen eye drops that don’t sting. Good ones include Ciloxan (ciprofloxacin) for pink eye, or Zaditor for eye allergies. Many older drops (Sulamyd, Garamicin) sting like crazy, and you’re not likely to get those in easily more than once. I have no idea why anyone still uses the stingy ones when cheap, effective non-stingers abound.

If your drops just missed completely or rolled away, try again.

Try not to touch the tip of the dropper to anyone’s face. You’re dropping the drops like a little bombardier, from above. But not from a foot away—unless your aim is really good, about a ½ inch away is plenty of space.

Note that nowhere in this method do you actually have to pry anyone’s eyes open, or (even more impossible) pry them open at the same time you’re aiming or squeezing a little bottle. That’s the point. Make it easy on yourself and Junior!

PS. It’s been 6 years since the blog started, and I finally managed to get in a reference to my favorite book of all time. Go me.

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2 Comments on “Getting eyedrops into children the easy way”

  1. Mindy Says:

    Great idea! I will use this for my non-children family members who can’t seem to handle eye drops. 🙂


  2. Dr. M Says:

    This is how I trick myself into taking eye drops.


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