You may notice, especially in the first 48 hours following birth, a clear, white to yellow discharge in either one or both of your babies eyes.

At times, this may also cause a crust on the eyelid and/or eyelashes making the lids ‘stick’ together.

Although mildly unpleasant for your baby, it is quite common and does not necessarily indicate an infection.

New born babies have extremely fine tear ducts and their eyes cannot flush themselves out as efficiently as the older baby and ourselves. This is the primary reason, most newborn babies do not produce tears when upset. The newborn infant may also have debris, such as vernix or amniotic fluid present that can affect the fine tear ducts and therefore initiate ‘sticky eyes’.

Parents should bath the eyes regularly, usually around every 4-5 hours if required. It is recommended to do this with Sterile Normal Saline and a non-woven cotton ball (this to ensure that loose fibres do not irritate the eye further). A single swipe with each cotton ball should be carried out and then be disposed of and a fresh cotton ball used if a second swipe is necessary to clean the eye. Never use the same cotton ball on both eyes.

Gentle massaging of the tear duct towards the nose can also assist to clear the ducts.

If the symptoms persist it is always advisable to consult your GP or Maternal Child Health nurse as sticky eyes of the newborn can, occasionally, lead to infection.