You’re a new mom, and you’ve got a wiggly newborn baby on your hands. Maybe you’re in the middle of feeding them, and they reach up to grab your breast…and instead of just getting the milk, mother’s milk drops in her baby’s eye.
If you accidentally squirt milk into the baby’s eyes while feeding, don’t worry moms—you’re not alone! Colostrum is perfectly suited for babies’ eyes and human milk definitely won’t cause any sort of injury or eye health problem, and in fact, will actually help soothe any redness or inflammation that might be present.
What Happens if Breast Milk Enters Baby’s Eyes?
It happens to all of us, mama: You’re breastfeeding your baby and he gets a little too excited and squirmy. All of a sudden, you noticed that the milk that’s supposed to go in his mouth is going in your baby’s eyes!
Breastmilk is the perfect food for babies, but it’s also got antibacterial properties that can help keep your baby safe from infection. Colostrum is important for breastfeeding newborn babies because it provides them with nutrients, antibodies, and white blood cells that help to protect the baby against infection. When breastmilk gets in your baby’s eyes, it helps fight off germs and bacteria that could harm them.
This is true! Breastmilk is naturally antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which means it helps to fight off bacteria and germs. As long as there isn’t much milk in your child’s eyes and he doesn’t rub it, he’s probably going to be alright.
Can You Squirt Breast Milk in Baby’s Eye?
Yes! Odd as that may sound, there actually is an easy way to alleviate a condition when babies have blocked tear ducts that collect, tear up and become extremely red and irritated. Surprisingly, many parents don’t receive proper information on treating a baby’s tear duct infection (also known as “chalazion”) from their pediatricians and medical professional.
In some cases, such as sticky eyes or pink eye, a few drops of mother’s milk can get rid of baby chalazion (red bump on eyelid) without resorting to medical intervention. It’s a simple health remedy that you can perform at home without having to purchase antibiotic eye drops which are expensive medications that can only make the eye infection worse.
Does Breast Milk Help With Conjunctivitis?
The short and straightforward answer is no, breastmilk does not help treat your baby’s conjunctivitis.
You may have heard that a drop of breast milk will heal your child’s eye infection (conjunctivitis), but that’s not true. There is no scientific or anecdotal evidence that breast milk has any ability to heal eye and bacterial infections or even make them better.
Conjunctivitis (other refers to it as pink eye) refers to inflammation of the conjunctival membranes, which are the skin that lines the eye and the white part (sclera). Symptoms include redness, itching, and watery discharge from the eyes. It’s normally caused by infection or irritation. If conjunctivitis occurs in infants under six months old, antibiotic drops will do to clear bacterial growth.
Does Breast Milk Cure Eye Infections?
Does breast milk cure eye infections? This may sound like a joke, but it really isn’t. The colostrum is effective in particular but not the mature milk which tends to be more toxic.
The beneficial bacteria found is, however, not effective in treating all types of bacterial eye infections. It also tends to fail to eliminate the infection, which it usually suppresses.
Can Breast Milk Cause Eye Infections?
It’s no secret that breast milk is packed with all sorts of nutrients and antibodies that are great for newborns, but did you know it can also sometimes cause eye infections?
Yes, breast milk can cause eye infections in babies. But that’s not because it’s “dirty”. Instead, it’s simply because breast milk is made up of proteins that aren’t well suited to someone else’s body.
Though rare, eye infections can be caused by mature milk squeezed from the nipple of a baby’s mom. If your baby is getting eye infections for weeks already, they probably aren’t caused by breast milk. In most cases, eye infections are a result of something else—like a blocked tear duct, allowing bacteria to spread from the eye to the nose and back around to the eye again.
If you are a lactating mother and your baby is experiencing any symptoms of an eye infection, such as discharge, redness, or pain, be sure to see your doctor right away. Treatment is usually very effective, but it’s important to get diagnosed and treated early to avoid any long-term damage.
Take Away on Getting Milk in Baby’s Eyes
While breast milk does contain the probiotic properties that we covered here, it’s still important to treat your child’s eye infection with other methods as well—specifically, prescription eye drops from your doctor.
Breast milk is not toxic for the baby’s eye, it will not be an issue provided it is a limited quantity. Breast milk when ingested in large amounts is different from an eye drop or instillation of breast milk as a way of treating eye infection. Hence, if there is a limited amount of expressed milk that enters your baby’s eyes, don’t worry.
Keep your child on the breast and continue with your regular schedule. The best thing you can do is monitor your baby for signs of infection, and consult with your pediatrician if anything seems amiss.
This article was written by Sandra Baker – full time writer and the mother of four amazing kids (including twins!)
She’s also a breastfeeding counselor and has spent years helping new parents learn how to care for their children. When she’s not writing or caring for her children, Sandra likes to spend time reading and taking walks with her husband.