How to administer eye drops in children

This page from Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) explains how to give your child eye drops.

What to do

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Get your child into any of these positions with the ear you are treating facing upwards.
  • Tilt your child’s head back
  • Lay your child flat on their
  • Ask someone to hold your child in a safe position as above
  • Wrap your baby or young child in a light blanket or sheet to keep their arms still
  1. Shake the bottle.
  2. Remove the top of the bottle and throw away the plastic seal.
  3. Gently pull your child’s lower eyelid.
  1. Hold the dropper above your child’s eye and squeeze one drop into the lower eyelid avoiding the corner of their eye.
  2. Release the lower eyelid and let your child blink a few times to make sure the drop is spread around the eye.
  3. Put the top back on the bottle and wipe away any excess eye drop with a clean tissue.

If your child is getting very distressed

This is an alternative way of giving your child eye drops but it does not work as well as the other method. You should use this method if it is the only way your child will have the eye drops.

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Shake the bottle.
  3. Remove the top of the bottle.
  4. Tilt your child’s head back or lay them flat on their back with their eyes closed.
  5. Place the drop onto the side of the closed eye nearest the nose.
  6. Either let your child’s eye open or gently rub the eyelid so the drop with bathe the eye.

Storing the eye drops safely

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Ask your pharmacist about storing the medicine. Some need to be kept in the fridge but others only need to be kept out of direct sunlight.
  • Read the instructions on the label and only use the drops or spray in the affected eye(s). If you are given different drops for each eye, make sure you use the correct one for each.
  • Always check the expiry date of the medicine before you give it to your child.
  • Eye drops should be used within four weeks of opening or as instructed on the label. If you are giving your child eye drops for a certain number of days, write the date you open the bottle on the label so you know when to throw it away.
  • Some eye drops are packaged as single doses (minims) rather than in a bottle. Twist the top off the minim to give the dose then dispose of the container in your household rubbish. Do not keep it for the next dose.


Please read this information sheet from GOSH alongside the patient information leaflet (PIL) provided by the manufacturer. If you do not have a copy of the manufacturer’s patient information leaflet please talk to your pharmacist. A few products do not have a marketing authorisation (licence) as a medicine and therefore there is no PIL.

For children in particular, there may be conflicts of information between the manufacturer’s patient information leaflet (PIL) and guidance provided by GOSH and other healthcare providers. For example, some manufacturers may recommend, in the patient information leaflet, that a medicine is not given to children aged under 12 years. In most cases, this is because the manufacturer will recruit adults to clinical trials in the first instance and therefore the initial marketing authorisation (licence) only covers adults and older children.

For new medicines, the manufacturer then has to recruit children and newborns into trials (unless the medicine is not going to be used in children and newborns) and subsequently amend the PIL with the approved information. Older medicines may have been used effectively for many years in children without problems but the manufacturer has not been required to collect data and amend the licence. This does not mean that it is unsafe for children and young people to be prescribed such a medicine ‘off-licence/off-label’. However, if you are concerned about any conflicts of information, please discuss with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

How to administer eye drops in childrenHow to administer eye drops in children

It can be difficult to put drops into children’s eyes. You may often need someone to help you. If drops are being put in at the beginning or the end of the day, it can be done while the child is asleep.

When using Atropine drops, if your child experiences facial flushing, dry mouth, constipation, urinary retention and/or rapid heart rate cease the drops and call the eye clinic to arrange a review.

Contact us

Ophthalmology Outpatients (2d)
Level 2, Queensland Children’s Hospital
501 Stanley Street, South Brisbane
t 07 3063 2361 | 07 3068 1111 (general enquiries)
e [email protected]

In an emergency, always call 000.

If it’s not an emergency but you have any concerns, contact 13 Health (13 43 2584). Qualified staff will give you advice on who to talk to and how quickly you should do it. You can phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Resource no. FS308 developed by Ophthalmology Department. Updated: May 2018.
All information contained in this sheet has been supplied by qualified professionals as a guideline for care only. Seek medical advice, as appropriate, for concerns regarding your child’s health.

Get step-by-step instructions for administering eyedrops to kids.

Eyedrops deliver medicine directly to the eyes. Your child's doctor may prescribe eyedrops for a number of reasons, including treating an infection such as conjunctivitis (pinkeye), keeping the eyes moist, helping with redness or itching, and easing allergy symptoms.

How to Administer Eyedrops

Putting eyedrops into your own eyes, much less your child's, may seem like a daunting task, but with some preparation, practice, and patience, you can administer your child's eyedrops quickly and effectively. Take a deep breath, relax, follow these steps, and you'll be experienced in no time.

Sometimes eyedrops will create a taste in your child's mouth or your child may feel the drops in his nose or throat. If the symptoms are not relieved by the time the prescription is finished, notify the doctor.

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap. If you have disposable rubber gloves, you can wear them.
  2. Have the child lie on his back with eyes open.
  3. Gently pull down each lower eyelid and ask your child to look up.
  4. Put the prescribed number of drops between the lower part of each eyelid and eyeball.
  5. Ask your child to blink. This allows the drops to cover the entire eye.
  6. Be sure not to touch the dropper to your child's eyelashes, eye, eyelid, or any surface. This helps to keep it free from bacteria and to prevent more infection.
  7. Don't forget to wash your hands again to remove any medicine and prevent infection transfer, even if you used disposable rubber gloves.

Another Method for Administering Eyedrops

A squirming, reluctant infant may not hold still long enough for you to give a small eyedrop. Here's another method for a wriggling patient:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap. If you have disposable rubber gloves, you can wear them.
  2. Have the child lie on her back with eyes closed.
  3. Put the prescribed number of drops into the inner corner of the closed eyes.
  4. When your child opens his eyes, the drops should run into them.
  5. Make sure not to touch the dropper to your child's eyelashes, eye, eyelid, or any other surface to keep the dropper free from bacteria and prevent more infection.
  6. Even if you used disposable rubber gloves, wash your hands after giving the eyedrops.

Follow Eye Safety Guideline

  • Use the eyedrops exactly as prescribed by the doctor. Do not use more drops or use them for a longer period than instructed, as this could damage the eyes.
  • Store eyedrops according to the instructions, which may be in the refrigerator.
  • Do not give eyedrops to your child that have been prescribed for another person.
  • Do not save leftover eyedrops beyond the prescribed time.
  • Use eyedrops only for the eye condition that is being treated.
  • If your child wears contact lenses, find out if he can wear the contacts while using the eyedrops.

All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

P ink eye. Sure, as ailments go, it’s pretty tame. If no one’s is throwing up on your pillow it’s a good day, right? So why do we cower so at this tiny little malady? Two tiny words: EYE DROPS. Luckily I’ve been around the block a few times so by now I’ve got it down to a science. Follow the steps below for an easy eye-drops experience.

  1. Prepare yourself for the procedure with a practice run. Find a feral cat, get into a bath with it, and brush its teeth.
  2. Locate your toddler. If you’re having trouble, follow the trail of eye-goo.
  3. Clearly and gently explain to your child that you are going to give him special medicine for his eye that it will make it all better. Tell him it won’t hurt, it’s just a bit of water. Feel heartened by your toddler’s acceptance of this information.
  4. Lay your toddler down on his back.
  5. Take cap off eye drops.
  6. Flip child back over onto his back.
  7. Flip child back over onto his back.
  8. Flip child back over onto his back.
  9. Carefully open child’s eye with two fingers and squeeze bottle to release one drop.
  10. Wipe drop off child’s forehead.
  11. Repeat step 9 as many times as needed.
  12. Success! Celebrate! Quick fist bump, then tell your child he’s done and free to go play with Hot Wheels.
  13. Notice that the bottle reads “Instill two drops.”
  14. Say a grown-up word.
  15. Find child, interrupt his Hot Wheels play, and explain that you lied to him.
  16. Ask child to lie down again.
  17. Pick child up and lay him across your lap.
  18. Lunge after your toddler and gently wrestle him into a cradle hold.
  19. With one hand, dial your partner at work and ask him to come home to help you.
  20. Offer your partner Special Nighttime Grownup Time if he’ll come home.
  21. Offer your partner sleeping-in rights for a month if he’ll come home.
  22. Yell, “Fine!” and hang up the phone.
  23. Re-engage child and gently pin him to the floor.
  24. Reach for the eye drops and realize you left them on the couch.
  25. Say a grown-up word.
  26. Call your six-year-old over and ask her bring you the drops.
  27. Take the remote your six-year-old has brought you and send her back for the drops.
  28. Take the bottle of bubbles your six-year-old has brought you and send her back for the drops.
  29. Take Chapstick your six-year-old has brought and send her away.
  30. Use your butt cheeks to shimmy your way to the couch while maintaining your firm grasp on your child.
  31. Procure eye drops and remove cap using teeth.
  32. Plead with your child to stop whipping his head around.
  33. Place one leg lovingly and firmly over child.
  34. Squeeze bottle to release one drop into eye.
  35. Miss.
  36. Repeat steps 34 and 35 16 times.
  37. Google on your phone how bad it would be for a kid to just live with pink eye forever.
  38. Cry a little.
  39. Promise child a lollipop if he’ll hold his head still.
  40. Promise child two lollipops if he holds his head still.
  41. Promise child thirty-seven lollipops if he holds his head still.
  42. Channel your inner warrior. See if you can conjure the “Rocky” theme in your head.
  43. Place child on floor.
  44. Gently but firmly put your legs over your child’s shoulders to pin down his arms.
  45. Gently but firmly hold child’s head still with your knees.
  46. Open child’s eye with two fingers.
  47. Reassure your child that it will be over in just a few seconds.
  48. Reassure yourself that it will be over in just a few seconds.
  49. Squeeze a drop into child’s eye.
  50. Release child from your John Cena grip.
  51. Resume breathing.
  52. Call pharmacy for a refill on eye drops, since most of current bottle is now soaked into your carpet.
  53. Prepare yourself to do this every few hours for the next week.

Pink eye is really nothing to worry about, so just follow these simple steps the next time your child comes home with pink eye, and everything will be just fine.

Heather M. Jones is a writer and mother of two in Toronto who has been featured on the CBC, HuffPost & Ravishly. You can see more of her work on her website.

The other day my 3-year old woke up with her eyes crusted shut with goop. ‘Mommy, I am blind!’ Well, not exactly.. but I was hoping against hope that it was just a fluke and not what I feared. Well, of course she had pink eye. I am not surprised since she is still learning the importance of hand washing after she goes potty. However, after a quick confirmation from the pediatrician, we returned home with a vial of eye-drops and instructions to apply them twice a day for a week. Yeah right. After a few days of this newest ‘adventure in parenting,’ I think we have it figured out though. Check out this hack.. you will want to tape it to the frig!

How to administer eye drops in children

How to Administer Eye-drops to a Preschooler in 18 Easy Steps

  1. Show your kid the eye-drops and calmly talk about the process.
  2. Chase kid around the house for 10 minutes.

Corner kid in bedroom, any bedroom .

Reason with them about why it will be quick and relatively painless.

Promise them a popsicle if they just put their head on the pillow.

Give them a lecture on why it is important to be brave.

Threaten to put their favorite toy in a timeout.

Promise a special viewing of Frozen in exchange for 10 seconds of their cooperation .

Attempt #1: after 10 minutes of screaming and flailing, call in Dad for reinforcements.

Promise your kid a special toy… any special toy.

Attempt #2: no joy… more screaming and flailing. Dad gets kicked in the face .

Threaten to delete Bubble Guppies from the DVR.

Dad pins your kid’s legs and arms to the bed.

Attempt #3: no joy… you are amazed at how strong your kid’s head is.

While Dad continues to basically sit on your kid, wedge their head in an arm vice.

Attempt #4: Success! You squirt eye-drops in corner of your kid’s eyes while they turn beat red from screaming.

Five minutes later your kid is watching Bubble Guppies, while eating a popsicle, and wearing their brand new Elsa dress.

Apply ice to Dad’s swollen nose.

Yep, that pretty much sums it up.

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

At some point in time your toddler will likely need eye drops. And, you will be the one responsible for administering them. Most toddlers will not willingly sit still and let you open up their eye to put eye drops in. By nature, toddlers are not still and they are scared of the drops in many cases. They can’t understand that the medicine will help them so they should open their eye. That means you must figure out a way to administer the eye drops successfully without too many tears. Fortunately, there is a surefire way to apply eye drops without any problems or battles!

Eyes Closed

You thought your toddler’s eyes needed to be open in order to successfully administer the eye drops, right? Actually, they don’t! This is the biggest problem because toddlers totally lose it when they see the eye dropper coming closer to their eye. Now, you can avoid the battles and make administering eye drops easy and scare free.

What you do is have your toddler lie back in your lap and close their eyes. Yes, close their eyes. Have them relax and tell them what you are doing. Next, apply two drops in the corner of their eye with their eye still closed. (It should be double the regular does for it to work properly, but ask the doctor to be sure). Now, have them open their eye. As soon as they open their eye the drops will rush in and it will have the same effect as if you had administered the drops with the eyes open. This method works wonders and your toddler will truly appreciate it!


Another option is to have your toddler sit down and let you pull their eyelid out and apply the medicine. This is not always well received either, but it might be a better option in older children. This method works as long as the little one is looking up so they don’t see the dropper and blink.
If you have a toddler or a child of any age that does not like having eye drops put in their eyes then give either of these methods a try. More than likely you will find that it works quite and your toddler allows you to administer the medicine without even a whimper. This is a relief to parents and toddlers and makes the whole process much easier and stress free!

There are times when it is important to seek medical care for conjunctivitis (pink eye). However, this is not always necessary. To help relieve some of the inflammation and dryness caused by conjunctivitis, you can use cold compresses and artificial tears, which you can purchase over the counter without a prescription. You should also stop wearing contact lenses until your eye doctor says it’s okay to start wearing them again. If you did not need to see a doctor, do not wear your contacts until you no longer have symptoms of pink eye.

When to Seek Medical Care

You should see a healthcare provider if you have conjunctivitis along with any of the following:

  • pain in the eye(s)
  • sensitivity to light or blurred vision that does not improve when discharge is wiped from the eye(s)
  • intense redness in the eye(s)
  • symptoms that get worse or don’t improve, including pink eye thought to be caused by bacteria which does not improve after 24 hours of antibiotic use
  • a weakened immune system, for example from HIV infection, cancer treatment, or other medical conditions or treatments

Newborns with symptoms of conjunctivitis should be seen by a doctor right away.

Viral Conjunctivitis

Most cases of viral conjunctivitis are mild. The infection will usually clear up in 7 to 14 days without treatment and without any long-term consequences. However, in some cases, viral conjunctivitis can take 2 to 3 weeks or more to clear up.

A doctor can prescribe antiviral medication to treat more serious forms of conjunctivitis. For example, conjunctivitis caused by herpes simplex virus or varicella-zoster virus. Antibiotics will not improve viral conjunctivitis; these drugs are not effective against viruses.

Bacterial Conjunctivitis

How to administer eye drops in children

Mild bacterial conjunctivitis may get better without antibiotic treatment and without causing any complications. It often improves in 2 to 5 days without treatment but can take 2 weeks to go away completely.

Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic, usually given topically as eye drops or ointment, for bacterial conjunctivitis. Antibiotics may help shorten the length of infection, reduce complications, and reduce the spread to others. Antibiotics may be necessary in the following cases:

  • With discharge (pus)
  • When conjunctivitis occurs in people whose immune system is compromised
  • When certain bacteria are suspected

Talk with your doctor about the best treatment options for your infection.

Allergic Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis caused by an allergen (such as pollen or animal dander) usually improves by removing the allergen from the person’s environment. Allergy medications and certain eye drops (topical antihistamine and vasoconstrictors), including some prescription eye drops, can also provide relief from allergic conjunctivitis. In some cases, your doctor may recommend a combination of drugs to improve symptoms. Your doctor can help if you have conjunctivitis caused by an allergy.

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How to Administer Eye Drops to a Child

It can be very distressing when a child is suffering from an affliction that affects their eyes. It is always hard to watch a child suffering and in discomfort. This hard-felt pang of pain within a parent is only natural for any form of illness or afflictions. In their distressed and edgy state, children can often unwittingly make it more difficult for a relative or a professional to care for them. Wallowing in their own self-pity, they evoke martyrdom as they refuse almost any treatment other than a lollipop.

Eye afflictions are particularly difficult to soothe in a child due to the perceived discomfort of applying Eye Drops. Here is a guide to applying Eye Drops to a child that is as stress-free as possible to the patient and the carer.

Firstly it is important that you thoroughly wash your hands and any part of your person that may come in contact with the patient. This will alleviate the possible of further infections entering the eye. Then shake the bottle and remove the cap, throwing away the plastic seal.

Then choose the position of the child. Either get them to tilt their head back or lay flat on their back. If your child is particularly distressed, it may be prudent to get somebody that the child trusts to hold them down. If you are applying the Eye Drops to a baby or young child, wrap them in a blanket to keep their arms and legs still.

Gently pull down the child’s lower eyelid. Hold the dropper above the child’s eye and squeeze a single drop onto the surface of the eyelid. Make sure that you avoid touching the child’s eye, eyelashes or any part of their body with the dropper. Release the lower eyelid and let your child blink in order to spread the Eye Drop around the eye.

Wipe away an excess with a clean tissue. Be particularly careful if you have applied Dry Eye Drops for conjunctivitis or another dry eye condition.

If your child wears contact lenses then it may be prudent to use a chemical-free Contact Lens Eye Drops. This will prevent any potential problems and irritations that the child may face as a result of the combination of Eye Drops and contact lenses.

Furthermore, if you need to apply more than one type of Eye Drop, do not do so immediately. Wait a few minutes after applying one Eye Drop before the other. This will stop the first one from being washed out by the second before the second begins to work.

I have to give my almost 2 year old eye drops 4 times a day for an eye infection, however, this is proving very difficult. Of course, she hates it and shuts her eyes very tightly so even when I can get them open, I'm not sure how much of the medication is actually getting in her eyes. Does anyone have any tips or is this pretty much how it goes?


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Thanks for all the advice. I guess it really doesn't take much medicine getting into the eye for the antibiotics to work, since her infection has cleared up.

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have her close her eyes. put the drops in the inside corner and then have her open her eyes and blink a few times. the medication will go in and she doesn't have to freak out about having something put in her eyes.

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I had the same problem until I tried this: hold the dropper up about a foot high abve her head. Then count "one", and drop it immediately before you get to two. My daughter actually ended up laughing when I did this when previously she was screaming and freaking out. Hope it works for you!

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Have your little girl lie down on her back and give her a huggy toy of her choice. Ask her to breath in and out slowly several times to relax. You could describe a scene that she likes (we are walking to the park and you can see the trees and hear the birds, etc.) You can have her do this without the drops first. Then when she is doing this calmly and after the deep breaths lead to breathing more slowly, with her eyes closed, put the drops in the corner of her eyes and it should seep into her eye. You can be repeating the calming scene or imagining anything. It is not necessary to offer any incentive (like a treat) because she will soon learn to only comply when bribed.

These techniques, relaxation with imagery, can be used for all kinds of things. You might even let her practice on you (but not actually putting the drops in, but maybe acting like she is). If she is old enough to grasp this, she might think it is fun. You also get to model calmly getting medicine. You can also substitute singing a little song, having her hum along, etc. It is also very important for the person giving the medicine to do the deep breathing, too, to be very relaxed as he or she approaches the child (even with eyes closed, the tension can probably be felt).

I hope this helps and best wishes.

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try doing it as part of her bath routine. by that I mean, when washing her face, kinda hide the drops behind the washcloth and when she least expects it and when her head is tilted back, drop them in quickly. may sound sneaky for which it is, but bathing will keep her distracted. another way is when she first goes to sleep and is sleeping soundly, you could try to do it then, if it doesn't startle her too much. now that sounds kinda iffy, but on the other hand, you need to get those drops in right? it's worth at least one try.

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After our kitten scratched my daughter's eye, the Ped. told us to have her lay flat on the ground with her eyes closed. Put a drop in the inner corner of her closed eye, right at the tear duct, and have her open her eyes. The drops roll right in. I'm not sure what medication you're using but a lot of the antibiotics really sting. If you suspect this is the case, you might call a Pharmacy and see if there is an alternative. Good luck to you.