36 answers

Bloodshot Eyes in My Toddler

has anyone ever had a toddler with bloodshot eyes? my husband thinks i'm crazy, but here's the deal - for the last week my son has: had diarrhea, leading to horrible diaper rash which we just got cleared up. then wednesday he had his 18 month check up where he got a shot (of course). the nurse said it's similar to a tetanus shot for us, which can get VERY sore (i remember!). i also think he has gone through a growth spurt since all of a sudden all of his pants are too small...a kid at his daycare has had pinworms AND head lice in the last two weeks...he has woken up several nights this week which is REALLY unusual for him - i did the "flashlight" test several times and have not seen any pinworms, and he's not scratching down there. no head lice either, and the ped. gave him a clean bill of health (from the whole 5 minutes he looked at him wednesday). but today, on top of everything (OH he has also been in a horrible mood for most of the last week or two, including today) his eyes have been bloodshot. i noticed it earlier today and it's now 3:30 and they're still all red. i hope this isn't too confusing...there's just a lot going on with this kid and i have no idea whether to worry or not. i've done all i can to rule out as much as i can, but the red eyes, i have no clue about. we did take him outside a bit this morning and it was pretty chilly so maybe he got wind in his eyes, but that was like 6 hours ago! i am just SO feeling that "something" is off with him...and i miss my happy kid! he has had symptoms of the "terrible twos" but this has been more like he really doesn't feel good. i don't know how to explain it...i might just be being paranoid but any ideas would be great...thanks!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

thanks again for everyone's advice. well the long and short of it is, my son is much better. he spent the night with my mom sunday night, and came back to me monday acting like his old self. he was doing pretty good sunday before i took him over there, but yesterday his eyes were cleared up and he was back to normal, i'd say 100%. yay! i still say i was right that something was "not right" with him, but thankfully i do think it was just a combination of lots of "stuff" going on, and he's over it. i got my sweet boy back! hope everyone has a great week, thanks again!

Featured Answers

Hi C.,

I am a mother of 4 wonderful children and have been through times of not know what is wrong with my child too. If this is a recent symptom within the past few weeks, you wonderful child could be experiencing allergy related illness. Keep in mind, it is now Spring and everything is beginning to bloom. I know my eyes have been very itchy and I have been quite crabby myself. Might I suggest giving him some Benedryl and see if that helps clear things up.

Good luck!

Hi! Maybe his blood shot eyes are a result of allergies. It's getting to be that time of year. Or maybe he's just tired, since you said he hasn't been sleeping well. I don't want to say you're being "paranoid" because sometimes that motherly instinct is right, but try not to worry so much. Just keep a watchful eye on him and relax!

It sounds like he's had a pretty busy week! With him getting up more than usual at night, and being sore and achy, I'm betting he's just extra tired, and he's probably rubbing his eyes more than normal, and that is what is making them bloodshot.

More Answers

Wow, that IS alot going on! Poor little guy!
First thing that came to my mind is the bloodshot eyes could simply be from loss of sleep. You mentioned he's been waking up at night. Yes, the wind could have blown some dust in his eyes but eyes usually resolve that on their own within a day or 2 max.

His mood: yeah it does sound like he's a little sick. Doctors look for clear, full-blown problems. The subtle things we notice about our own bodies or our children may not reach a threshold where a doctor will call it a problem, but that doesn't mean everything's perfect. There is a lot about our bodies & illnesses etc that the mainstream medical professionals just don't know yet. And some doctors will admit this. He's been exposed to a couple of things at day care, and with the shot he got recently that's just one more thing he was exposed to. He might have several low-grade infections he's trying to fight off (that's the way most vaccines work - they give you a very weak version of the actual germ so your body will fight it off - after you're exposed to it & fight it off, then you have the immunity). So none of these are reaching a level where he's obviously sick, but fighting off a couple of different things under the surface would be enough to make a guy a little grumpy.

There could be something more serious going on but your doctor couldn't find it so probably not. Just keep an eye on him. If it gets noticably worse take him back to the doctor. Otherwise, just nurture, pamper, and love him (be patient with his sour mood - assume it's because he's a little sick), and give him time. It's most likely not anything serious but just keep a close eye on him for any changes.

1 mom found this helpful

My children were always irritable during growth spurts so maybe that's it. As far as blood shot eyes, could he have allergitis which is allergies in the eyes? One of my children has this and gives her blood shot eyes, Only certain days and only certain times. It could be many things at one time and not just one thing causing all the things.

Good luck,

he may be severely dehydrated. this can happen after a bout of diarrhea, where the fluid does not get completely replaced. Winter will also make it worse because the air gets dry from all of the heating sources.... drys out your eyes and they can be bloodshot. Check to see if his lips are chapped or if he has any signs of dry skin or dry mouth. Dehydration will also give you major headaches and stomach aches and make you irratable. I would give him pedialyte and try to push fluids and see if it makes a difference. Also make sure you use a humidifier in his room at night. If it doesn't help then I would take him back to the pediatrician and have him look at him again with the new symptoms.

Have you recently switched daycares? I would take him to the doctor immediately! He could have a head injury that you are unaware of or it could be something else. I would definitely have the doctor check it out. Write down all of the things that you just listed in your question so that you are prepared. I hope everything is well. Good luck!

Hi! Maybe his blood shot eyes are a result of allergies. It's getting to be that time of year. Or maybe he's just tired, since you said he hasn't been sleeping well. I don't want to say you're being "paranoid" because sometimes that motherly instinct is right, but try not to worry so much. Just keep a watchful eye on him and relax!

Trust your instincts. You know your son better than the doctors do, and if you feel there's something really not right don't let it go. Have him looked at again, and bring him to another dr. if yours isn't giving him any time. It may be nothing, but you need to trust yourself and have him looked at just to be sure, doctors don't know everything. Good luck!

I'd suggest taking him to an eye doctor. It may be pink eye or possibly allergies. It also could be exhaustion. Try putting him to bed one hour earlier each night. Good Luck. Kati

Do you have a doctor's exchange to call on a Sunday? I would call, just to be safe. I'm sure everything's fine. If he had a shot, he's probably still pretty sore. Red eyes could be anything. It could be the wind outside. Maybe he has allergies that are showing up from the wind blowing the pollen. It's really hard to say.

I would trust your instinct. If you feel like "something" is wrong, take him back to the doctor and make him spend some time evaluating your son. I have firsthand experience in trusting your instincts.
My daughter was 3 months old when I went back to my then full-time job (I quit 2 weeks later) and my niece was watching her. She was sleeping all day for my niece (which was very unusual for her because she wasn't a good napper), and was very crabby. I worried about her, but everybody said it was probably just her way of adapting to being away from me all day. She was sneezing and had a little cough, so that Thursday, I took her to the MD and was told by the nurse practioner that she had a cold. By Saturday, she was sleeping almost around the clock, very lethargic, so I told the MD office that she just wasn't acting like the baby I knew. They told me to trust my instinct and bring her back in.
Our pediatrician listened to her lungs for a few minutes, had her get an x-ray and it turns out she had RSV Pneumonia! The pediatrician told me that the area on her lung was small, so we caught the pneumonia as early as we could have because I brought her in so quickly. It took 2 weeks for her to recover but she didn't have to be hospitalized, we just did all the nebulizer treatments at home. All because I trusted my gut instinct that something was off with her. You know your son best, remember that.

You may want to check with the doctor and see if he has the symptoms of pink eye.

All I can say is that "a mother always knows." I would call the pediatrician, and not feel guilty about it ... and if they make you feel bad for calling, then you are with the wrong ped. They call it a mother's instinct for a good reason. Go with it, and get your happy little guy back :)

I am probably considered a paranoid mother also to most people, but I consider myself to be conscience of what is going on with my kids. Also, my pediatrician has told me that a parent is usually the best source for knowing if something is wrong with a child and to not hesitate to get it looked. With that said, I know that Conjuctivitis (pink eye) has been going around. My husband has had 3 rounds of it in the past 2 months which he fortunately has not passed around to the rest of the family. Pink eye does look like blood shot eyes, but you can also has oozing from the eyes and they can be itchy. Good luck and as they say, Mom knows best!

NEVER dismiss your mama instinct! I became a mom for the first time the day before I turned 30, and I think because of my age, I wasn't going to let the doctors intimidate me, and you shouldn't either. If you feel like there's more to the symptoms, then call your pediatrician back and get another appointment, and if that still doesn't make YOU feel better, ask for a referral to another doctor, or just find one yourself. Do as much research as you can online and in books like the "What to Expect..." series, and go to the doctor well armed with questions and info.
I insisted that my son be seen by an orthopedist when he was 14 mos old and they put him in braces to correct a muscle imbalance in his legs. My regular pediatrician said there was nothing wrong with him, but the orthopedist said he could have ended up needing surgery for hip and back problems before he was 5 if I hadn't insisted on being seen earlier.
Don't let anyone tell you YOU don't think there's something wrong. Good Luck!

You know, although you are a "new" mom, don't underestimate yourself or your mommy instincts...they are probably right on. How is his sleep? Could be allergies, my kids have been a little snotty lately and rubbing their eyes so I know we are entering into the season again. I'd say if you aren't clearing it up today or can't pinpoint something, take him into the Dr. tomorrow...always better to be safe then sorry.

BTW- if you want to elimnate allergies, try getting some sudafed. I would think 1/2 tsp to 3/4 tsp would be about right for your kiddo but you might double check with the pharmacist. Good luck.

If he developes any crusty matter around his eyes in the mornings he may have pink-eye (conjunctivitis) that is transmittable from other kids as well (like the pinworms and head lice). I'd just watch to see if it worsens.

Sounds like a teething issue maybe. That takes the smiles from little ones sometimes. My kids are grown but they all reacted differently to teething and cranky for no reason, diarreah, runny noses and yes red eyes from rubbing partially were common. Just a thought. R.

I'm the mother of two adults so my experience with little ones was some time ago, but here are a couple of thoughts. Sinus issues will cause bloodshot eyes, so will allergies and pink eye. Pink eye will also cause a lot of eye rubbing and mattering so you may be able to rule that out if those aren't present. Sinus and allergy problems can also cause diahria and other stomach issues, I would think either of those could contribute to his being cranky. Sometimes you have to ask pointed questions of your pediatrician in order to make sure they pay attention to all the details. It could have been very easily overlooked. Do you have access to a 24 hour nurse line? Try that as well. Don't give up if you think there is something going on. You're the only one who can push for an answer for your little guy.

I was just wondering if you ever considered "pink eye?" If there are other children sick at daycare, then it could have easily been picked up, since it is extremely contagious. Usually children with pink eye will rub and scratch their eyes, but not always. If not pink eye, than maybe allergies, since it is that time of the year. These are just thoughts to get your mind working!!

First of all never, never ignor your motherly instinct(sixth sence), IF YOU FEEL SOMETHING IS WRONG be perscistant(spelling oops). I personally would call a nurse that is a "family member or a family friend" and give her/him the whole story. If possible even invitethem over so they can physically see your son. Sometime the eyes see things that the mother see but the trained eye only sees fact not reality. I truely hope you find some answers and I wish only the best for you and your son. Please keep us intouch and I hope your sons health turns around quickly and swiftly.
warm thoughts and sunshine kisses,

have you had his ears checked? my babies eyes were bloodshot about two weeks ago and he woke up several times a night scratching them. they were very red. anyway, he had an ear infection which led to the bloodshot eyes...i would take him to have his ears checked b/c you don't want to let an ear infection go...

Dear C.,
Need more information. What are your observations about the caring, protection, nurturing and disciplines at the daycare? Are there bullies in the group? You are right on target with your registration of suspicions that something is not right...NOT in a life-threatening disease way... but, you ARE accurately reading signs that intervention of some sort is needed. I am thinking that your precious baby is SEEING things with his heart-mind that he does not want to see/hear/feel. Note also, the respondent, who targeted vaccines is accurate, but this is NOT the immediate CAUSE of your son's symptoms at your present writing. (More dirt info on vaccines will become public soon.) On the mighty wings of light and love and power, C.

For the last couple of years I have been very intersted in the effects vaccines have on our children. I hope you will take my advice and go to LewRockell.com to read about some of the horrible ingredients these vaccines have in them. Hopefully your just experiencing an off week and everything will be back to normal soon. Sometimes when a kid is out of sorts with a virus or something similar they will get bloodshot eyes, even if they are tired sometimes this will happen and if hes staying up all night then this could be just a vicious cycle but if the bloodshot eyes and the different attitude you defintily should call the md again. Good Luck!

M. N.
Hi C., I started to write a reply, but saw you received plenty already. I am glad to read your days are getting better God Speed.

Intuition is a tool God gave us and if you don't feel right, ask ask ask until you do. Unfortunately, this day-in-age, health care is like an assembly line (or should I say "express lane"?). I made it very clear to my daughter's pediatrician that "drive thru care" would not be ok with me-I just politely ask him to "explain things a little more" if I don't ully understand things and we have a good relationship. Good doctors respect good parents. You're his mommy, you know him best! Good luck :)

Sometimes the strain on our little ones body is far too much, when they've been sick or have had the runs. If it persist for more then a few weeks then I'd have him checked out again. Your son could be allergic to something as well. Those five minute check-ups wouldn't be able to tell you that :-). Just keep an eye on him & TRY not to worry, I know it's hard but you can do it. Good luck & God Bless!

Hi C.,

I am a mother of 4 wonderful children and have been through times of not know what is wrong with my child too. If this is a recent symptom within the past few weeks, you wonderful child could be experiencing allergy related illness. Keep in mind, it is now Spring and everything is beginning to bloom. I know my eyes have been very itchy and I have been quite crabby myself. Might I suggest giving him some Benedryl and see if that helps clear things up.

Good luck!

Hi C.. Sorry to hear all that is going on with your little guy. You didn't mention a fever, but my boys (I have 3) always get bloodshot eyes when they have a fever. The other thing I would say is it is probably something that will get better, but I've learned to trust that "mommy instinct". With that being said, i would suggest taking him back to the doctor and voice your concerns again if for know other reason than your peace of mind. I know it's so hard when little ones don't feel good and you aren't sure how to help them out. Goodluck and I hope he feels better soon.

Good Morning C., I agree with other posters here that it may be an allergen in the air. Poor little man sure has had a time of it though. I care for our 2 youngest grand sons daily. The oldest is 3 and has some allergy ( soy products, so many things if you read labels has a soy product of some kind ) we figured this out on our own. He can eat just about anything but if it has soy in it he gets red around his mouth, chin & cheeks. Disappears in about an hour. The youngest 5 months, gets very red eye's when he is tired, if he fights sleep i wipe them with warm damp cloth, it helps to relax him.
We also found out on our own that apple juice will sometimes cause children to have very runny bowels. Our Ped suggested Pear juice as it has more fiber in it.

The bad moods or extra fussiness can be caused from many things including the lack of sleep, growth spurts or the diarrhea, it wears us out as adults when we have it. Give him extra hugs and cuddles. If his little peepers are still red Monday call your Pedi again.

Good Luck and enjoy your little guy, they grow up so fast.
K. aka Nana K to 5 grandkids
Love every minute of it.

The red eyes could be from allergies. Check with his doc. They can give you eyedrops called Patanol that will ease the redness and itchness. My son uses them and they work great.

As the mother of 6, I am a strong believer in go with your instinct. So, if you feel something is not right, insist that your son's doc look at him more carefully. If he/she refuses or you still do not get an answer, try another doctor. I don't really know what would cause these symptoms, but if you feel that he is not well, you should be a strong advocate for your child and insist that someone figure out what is going on. Hope you find an answer soon.

I don't know if your son is experiencing what I have been experiencing but I thought I would share my experience and it might help you. For the last couple of years, every now and then, I wake up with the whites of my eyes red or pink. My eyes look like I have pink eye and when I had the eye doctor check them out, he said I have seasonal allergies that are causing it. I'm always afraid one of the parents I run into in the community will freak out that I have pink eye so I use eye drops to help the irritation. I used to use allergy drops but I've been out for a while and I have found visine red eye helps. Anyway, you might want to talk to your sons doctor or taske him to an eye doctor and hopefully it's just allergies. I know my eyes look a lot worse than they really are! I hope this helps!


i would get a new ped. or take him to the hospital because you are right there is something very wrong with him and your doc should be more concerned than he was.


It may just be allergies especially since we're into Springtime weather.... my daughter had had alot of redness around her eyes and the Dr said it was allergies and told me to give her Childrens Claritin OTC....

It's good you are keeping up with him I'm a mother that keeps a watch out as well for my kids. If we don't who will? :)


It sounds like he's had a pretty busy week! With him getting up more than usual at night, and being sore and achy, I'm betting he's just extra tired, and he's probably rubbing his eyes more than normal, and that is what is making them bloodshot.

C., could your son have pink eye? With the diarrhea could he have gotten his hands into it and then into his eyes? Worth checking out. Never second guess your instincts as mother. you know your child better than anyone, If something does not seem right, it is not right. Most pediatricians respect mothers intuition without blowing it off.
A. B

I'm not sure as to what may be wrong, but I do know mama instinct. If you think something is wrong, something is probably wrong. Don't give up until you figure it out. Maybe it's alergies. Things are blooming and I know my kids are struggling with runny noses, maybe that's what's bothering your son's eyes. Try over-the-counter Benadryl (not sure of spelling) for babies(liquid).
You Go Mom,
D.-mom of 9

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