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Why Do Babies Have Bags Under Their Eyes

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Looking at our tender cuties, we can’t help but love and admire them all the time. Because of this love for them, we worry about every little odd thing we notice in them. One of such odd things that most young parents and concerned aunts/uncles aren’t comfortable with is bags under the baby’s eyes.

So, you often hear them ask this question, why do babies have bags under their eyes?

why do babies have bags under their eyes
Photo Credit: Diyosa Carter, flickr.com

There are a few reasons why newborns have bags under their eyes, the same goes for adults. While some may require medical attention, others don’t. It’s important you know the reason for your baby’s undereye puffiness, this will help you handle it properly.

Why Do Babies Have Bags Under Their Eyes- Causes

The causes of undereye bags in babies are as follows:

1. Babies not getting adequate sleep recommended for their age

2. Over crying

3. Babies not being placed in the right sleeping posture

4. Low amount of iron in baby meals

5. Allergic reaction

6. Blockage of the tear duct

7. Injuries or scratches around the eyes

8. Eye infections

These causes will be explained in detail as you read on.

One: Babies Not Getting Adequate Sleep Recommended for Their Age.

Babies that don’t get adequate sleep do develop undereye bags, therefore, ensure your buttercup sleeps well.

What is the Average Sleep Cycle for Babies?

The average sleep cycle for babies is 10 – 18 hours for newborns and 9 – 12 hours daily for infants who are 3 months up till 9 months. Also, these sleep cycles include both the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep and NREM (Non-rapid Eye Movement) sleep.

Ensuring that your infant gets enough sleep will help do away with those eye bags.

How Do I Improve my Baby’s Sleep Pattern?

Here’s a list of how to improve your baby’s sleep pattern:

1. Put him/her to bed an hour earlier than the usual bedtime

2. Do away with all forms of noise and disturbances at night

3. Keep your baby active during daytime

4. Allow him/her to be awake while feeding

5. Keep your baby in a comfortable position while sleeping

The REM sleep is very important to your child’s brain development, ensure your baby completes this cycle daily.

Two: Over Crying

Babies that cry always tend to have puffy eyes. This is because when crying, fluids are collected around the eyes and this causes swelling. When your infant cries often; hunger, dirty diaper, or uncomfortable clothes may be the cause.

What is the Effect of Over-Crying in Babies?

The effects of over crying in babies are headache, swollen eyes, and high temperature. Over crying increases the production of adrenaline hormones. As a result, it obstructs the free flow of blood, causing dilation of blood vessels. Furthermore, this explains the apperance of pinkish-red color on a baby’s face when he/she cries.

why do babies have bags under their eyes
Photo Credit: Kylemanning, flickr.com

You should soothe and take care of your infant so they don’t cry all the time.

How Do I Stop My Baby From Over- crying?

You can stop your baby from over-crying by:

1. Swinging the baby

2. Using a pacifier

3. Wrapping the baby in your arms to feel secure

4. Singing a lullaby

5. Shushing

6. Practicing good hygiene

7. Properly feeding your baby

Undereye bags that are as a result of over crying do not last long and will disappear after some time.

Three: Babies Not Being Placed on The Right Sleeping Posture.

Another cause of eye puffiness in babies that we tend to ignore is the sleeping position.

What is the Best Sleeping Position for Babies?

The best sleeping position for babies is lying on their backs. Lying on the back enhances the proper flow of blood in the blood vessels and reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDs) in babies.

A lot can go wrong when a baby isn’t properly positioned while sleeping, the undereye bag is just one of it. Make sure that your infant is placed on his/her back when they’re sleeping. This will help eliminate all forms of wrong sleeping posture disorder, and that includes undereye bags.

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Four: Low Amount of Iron in Baby Meals

Another reason for undereye bags in babies is low Iron (not necessarily Iron deficiency). For babies who are past the age of six months, undereye bags may be a sign that they need Iron boosters.

How Can I Boost My Baby’s Iron Level?

You can boost your baby’s iron level by adding iron-rich foods like sweet potatoes, winter squash, meat, vegetables, and breast milk to his/her diet. These foods naturally contain high levels of iron that can be beneficial to your baby’s health.

Breastmilk contains a minute amount of iron, therefore, you should enrich their meals with iron-rich foods once solids have been introduced.

Five: Allergic Reaction

Undereye swelling is the usual symptom for allergy, and you should not rule this out if your baby has an undereye bag.

Find out what the allergen is, and eliminate it. If you’re uncertain about the cause of the puffiness, then you should get the baby tested for allergies.

What Causes Eye Allergy In Babies?

1. Pollen

2. Dust

3. Food

4. Dirt

5. Viruses

6. Bacteria

Symptoms of Eye Allergy In Babies?

Here’s a list of symptoms of eye allergies in babies:

1. Fluid increase around the eyes or in the sinuses. This results in the swelling of the undereye.

2. Red and itchy eyes

3. Mucus-like discharge from the eyes

4. Pain around the eyes, most especially after waking up.

Six: Blockage of The Tear Duct

A clogged tear duct is usual in infants and could be a cause for those undereye bags. The function of the tear duct is to drain natural water and tears from the eyes.

So, when it’s blocked, it can cause swelling because fluids that should have been drained away will be collected around the eyes. 

Infections or injuries are the common causes of tear duct blockage in not just infants, but also in older kids and adults. Other signs of clogged tear duct are pain, redness, mucus or pus, blurred vision, and excess watery eyes. You should check with your ophthalmologist for treatment.

Seven: Injuries or Scratches Around the Eyes

Something as small as a nick or scratch around your baby’s eyes can cause undereye swelling. The swelling occurs when his/her body is healing the thin soft skin around the eyes. What may look like a nick can also turn into an eye infection called the periorbital cellulitis.

What is Periorbital Cellulitis?

Periorbital cellulitis is a type of infection that affects the eyelids and lower part of the eyes. It is the softening and swelling of the tissues around the eyes as a result of bacterial infection. Consequently, if it is not treated early, it can affect the brain and cause vision impairment.

Additionally, because you are handling a baby, you should always trim your nails and that of your baby. With these done, scratches around your baby’s eyes and body too will be avoided. Consult your doctor if you suspect periorbital cellulitis.

Eight: Eye Infections

Lastly, eye infections may cause undereye bags in one or both eyes of an infant.

What is Eye Infection?

Eye infection is the invasion of the eyes by harmful microorganisms like virus, fungi, and bacteria. It affects the membrane, eye lining or cornea, eyelids, sclera, pupil, and iris. Examples of eye infections include conjunctivitis, endophthalmitis, sty, keratitis, and uveitis.

Infections can be on the eyes and, or the eyelids. When swelling and infection happens first to an eye, it can disperse to the other quickly. Some of the common eye infections in infants are these:

Neonatal conjunctivitis 

Neonatal conjunctivitis is an eye infection that causes red-eye in newborns. It occurs as a result of inflammation, clogged tear duct, and irritation. Also, it is an eye infection that affects some babies from birth.

The common symptom for it is redness and puffiness, and sometimes excessive discharge. However, this does not apply to all newborns except for mothers that may be down with chlamydia, herpes, or gonorrhea.

Pinkeye can happen at any age tho because it’s caused by a virus, bacteria, and other eye irritants.

Here are some other detailed articles you may find useful:


Blepharitis is the blockage and inflammation of oil glands in the eyelids. It usually affects the edges of the eyelids after a night’s sleep.

The symptoms of blepharitis are tenderness and swell in the lids, itches, and crusts on the lashes.

Periorbital Cellulitis 

Mostly spreads from the sinuses or may be caused by scratch or injuries around the eyes. Medical attention is required for its treatment.

Now you know why some babies have undereye bags. However, it’s important to always consult your pediatric ophthalmologist for any eye-related concerns you have about your kid. Early treatment of these causes, will help eliminate future eye problems.

Why Do Babies Have Bags Under Their Eyes- Related FAQs

Are Puffy Eyes in Babies Normal?

Puffy eyes in babies are not normal. It could occur because of crying, not enough sleep, genes, allergies, or an underlying sickness.  Also, at birth, some babies experience eyelid edema or eyelid puffiness as a result of water retention in their eyes. This causes difficulty in opening the eyes for some days.

Furthermore, puffy eyes in babies could be a sign of conjunctivitis, pink eye or blepharitis, ptosis, and eyelid inflammation. Consequently, the eyes will be itchy, red, and painful. It is best to visit an ophthalmologist immediately to prevent complications.

What Kind of Deficiency Causes Under-eye Bags in Babies?

Under-eye bags in babies are caused by iron deficiency. Iron is an essential mineral needed by babies to boost their health and development. It is the major mineral that builds the red blood cells. These cells produce hemoglobin. 

Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen to other cells inside the body. When it is insufficient, blood circulation would be uneven, as a result, the blood vessels become dilated, causing eye bags. Examples of iron-rich foods include red meat, beans, cashews, potatoes, cereals, and green vegetables.

Therefore, iron helps babies to grow stronger mentally and physically.

What Type of Allergies Affect Baby’s Eyes?

The type of allergy that affects baby’s eyes is conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye. Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the membrane that lines the eyeballs and eyelids. It is usually caused by viruses and bacteria. It can be transferred via contact with an infected child, towels or surfaces, fingernails, and contaminated water.  

In babies, it is characterized by itching, redness, swelling, and discharge of mucus-like liquid from the eyes. It can be treated with breast milk, salt and water solution, chamomile tea, potato juice, vitamin A, and natural honey.

Can Breast Milk Treat Under-Eye Bags in Babies?

Breast milk can treat under-eye bags in babies. However, it is only effective for treating under-eye bags caused by infections. Breast milk contains proteins like serum albumin, alpha-lactalbumin, IgA, lysozyme, lactoferrin (apo-lactoferrin), fat, carbohydrates, and minerals. 

Furthermore, it contains lipids like vaccenic acid and conjugated linolenic acid which play a crucial role in boosting the immune system, fighting viruses, and bacteria.

To use breast milk to treat under-eye bags in babies, squeeze a few drops into the eyeballs, then soak some cotton wool with the milk. Afterward, place it on the eye bag. Leave it to sit for 10 minutes. This will provide soothing relief to the affected area.

Do Blocked Tear Ducts Hurt Babies?

Blocked tear ducts do not hurt babies. However, it could become painful and discomforting if it is accompanied with mucus-like discharge. Blocked tear duct in babies occurs because of the closure of the lower end of the membrane tissue inside the tear duct. This closure blocks the free flow of tears to the eyes.

This condition is most common amongst newborns. Subsequently, the tear duct begins to open gradually in the first 12 months of their years. It can be resolved by gently massaging and wiping the swollen eyes with warm water and a towel. 

Blocked tear ducts can prevent the formation of fluid in the tear duct.

How Can I Help My Baby’s Swollen Eyes?

You can help your baby’s swollen eyes by applying a cold compress on the swollen spot. Cold compress, also known as halotherapy, involves using ice to reduce redness, pain, and swelling. To apply a cold compress to a baby’s swollen eyes, do these:

  1. Put ice in a plastic bag
  2. Get a wet clean towel and place the plastic bag in it
  3. Put in the baby in an elevated position
  4. Place the towel gently on the swollen eyes for 10 mins

These steps can be repeated 2-3 times a day until there is noticeable improvement. Additionally, cold compresses are more effective when combined with rest. 

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