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Toddler Eye Drop Methods

By Carol Ochs ; Updated August 14, 2017

It can be tough to get eye drops into the eyes of a toddler. Just trying to get a toddler to sit still long enough can be a challenge, and the idea of something dropping into the eyes can be scary for little ones. Still, sometimes it’s necessary to apply drops, and there are some approaches that can make the task a little easier.

Get Prepared

Before you try to give your child eye drops, get yourself and the drops ready. Make sure you’ve read the label on the drops and understand the directions for use. Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota suggests that if the medicine is cool, put it in your pocket to warm it to your body temperature. Before and after you administer eye drops, it’s important to wash your hands. If there’s drainage or crust around the child’s eye, wipe it away using a cotton ball dipped in water. Wipe from the inner corner of the eye to the outer corner.

Secure Your Child

Trying to get eye drops into a standing, squirming child can be impossible. Have your child lie down and make sure he’s secured so you can get the drops where they need to go and prevent injury from the applicator. The Pediatric Glaucoma & Cataract Family Association notes that for children three and younger, it might be a good idea to find someone to help you administer the drops by keeping the youngster’s arms and fingers away. If you’re on your own, the organization suggests wrapping the child in a towel or blanket with arms inside. Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota notes you can also sit on a bed or floor with your child’s head between your thighs and his arms under your legs. If necessary, you can place your lower legs over your child’s legs. Try to get your child to look straight up at you.

Administer Drops

Once your child is lying down, position yourself behind her head. When it’s time to apply the drops, Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota suggests using one hand to pull down gently on the child’s lower eyelid to form a pocket. Rest your other hand on her forehead and hold the dropper about an inch from her eye. Put the drops inside the pocket—not on the eyeball. For children who resist this method, Pediatric Planet suggests telling your youngster to squeeze both of her eyes closed. Put the right number of drops in the inner corner of the closed eye. When your child opens her eye, the drops will run in.


Once the drops are in, take a moment for both of you to relax and let the medicine do its work. Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota recommends having your child close his eyes for one or two minutes while moving the eye in all directions. If you want to help prevent the drops from going into the nose and throat and causing a “bad taste,” put some gentle pressure on the inner corner of the affected eye.

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