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Closed Tear Ducts in Newborns

My daughter has a week old newborn. He woke up this morning with one eye closed and crusted over with mucous. We understand that newborns have closed tear ducts. My daughter did take the baby in today to see a nurse practioner who advised her to wipe the baby's eye with a warm washcloth and then administer antiobiotic eye drops. She had a friend drop over that told her that in her culture, mothers squirt breast milk on the baby's eye to soften it and make the crusty mucuous easy to remove. Has anyone heard about this before? We were just curious.

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I was overwhelmed at the many responses I received to my request. Thank you to everyone for offering helpful advice.
We were surprised to discover how common this practice is for healing so many conditions. Thanks for all the wonderful nursing mothers for their encouragement and helpful advice from their experiences. The responses were very comforting to my daughter and she is putting it into practice with her sweet little baby boy.

I am a mother of six children. This was the first time I had heard about this practice, so it was great to hear from so many mothers who had not only heard about it but had used it. This is such a wonderful site. This was the first time I had put in a request, and I was so pleased with the overwhelming response to my question.

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Absolutely. In my breastfeeding support group a number of mothers have been told this by the opthomologist! The antibodies in the breast milk can help fight any infections. So the eye doctors even recommend this...

Yes, I used the breastmilk squirting technique (by way of a dropper though), and it worked. I think breastmilk has antibiotic or some other such properties, so as I understand it, it does more than just soften the mucous.

My 8 week old had a blocked tear duct (still slightly). when I took her to the pediatrician, I asked her about breastmilk in the eye. She told me she did not believe in that b/c you are just introducing more food for bacteria in the eye. I would have her ask her own pediatrician. You can also massage under her eye in the inner corner to help the blockage.

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Hi M.,

Not only have I heard about this, but I have done it. And not only to soften up the hardened mucus - but also to help eleviate any irritation. Breastmilk has AMAZING healing powers. It's actually a very holistic approach. I have two children and they both had blocked tear ducts that caused the problem you described. Each time I would change their diapers (just because it was easier to remember) I would take a little cotton swab with breast milk and run it over the eye (use a seperate cotton swab for each eye). I would then massage the tear duct area by placing my pinky finger on the inner corner of the eye and working it down the side of the nose. Do that 10 times on each eye about four times a day (each diaper change). This works wonders! It would usually clear up all of the goop by the second or third day of following this routine.
Breastmilk also works great on diaper rash, cuts and scrapes. Even great to use when the baby is congested instead of saline water.

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I have 5 children and have encountered this situation several times both personally and among friends. Breastmilk in a baby's eye has cleared up the problem every time! I express the milk into a little cup or lid and use a medicine syringe to suck it up and drip into baby's eye. If you do this each time you nurse your baby, it should clear up within about a week in my experience.

Quick tip: nursing baby on one side makes it much easier to express milk on the other side because the milk will flow more easily.

Other applications for breastmilk: You may also be amazed to know that breastmilk works well to help heal ear infections and pink eye. My whole family of 7 came down with pink eye! I was running around with my little cup of fresh breastmilk putting drops in everyone's eyes several times a day. In just 3-4 days everyone was well!

This is definitely proof to me that breastmilk is liquid gold. What a strong antibacterial and antiviral medicine we have...manufactured daily by millions of mothers everywhere :) and it's free!

Many blessings,

1 mom found this helpful

YES YES YES!!! Antibodies and LOTS of them!!!! And not just antibodies, but antibodies specific to the mom's and baby's immune systems and what they've been exposed to. If your daughter is breastfeeding, anything mom is exposed to will be passed to baby through contact with the breast and any virus/bacteria that may be in the breastmilk, and the antibodies mom produces will be passed through the milk. Anything baby is exposed to will be passed to mom through contact with the breast, which will trigger mom to produce antibodies to be passed back to baby!!! It's an awesome, amazing partnership!

If you or she have any additional questions about breastfeeding, please feel free to use Nursing Mothers Counsel as a resource. We are a non-profit organization of peer counselors who provide FREE, non-judgemental support and information to moms at all stages of breastfeeding, prenatal through toddlers and weaning. Our website is http://www.nursingmothers.org, and our hotline number is (650) 327-MILK. Enjoy!

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Yes, I used the breastmilk squirting technique (by way of a dropper though), and it worked. I think breastmilk has antibiotic or some other such properties, so as I understand it, it does more than just soften the mucous.

I'm sure the breast milk thing can't hurt and will probably help! You didn't mention a diagnosis, so, in case it wasn't made clear to the mother, the baby probably has a bacterial infections (pink eye) that is very contagious. That is why the doctor gave antibiotic drops. Make sure anyone who touches the baby's face or hands washes their hands well! It can be passed back and forth over and over. No fun.

Take care!

Hi M.,

Congrats on the birth of your grandchild..

Yes, this is in fact true. Squirting a little breast milk directly from the nipple, does in fact clear up the infection that's causing this. It is called conjunctivitis. The milk has to be direct from the breast as it contains the antibodies. Expressed milk from the bottle won't contain fresh antibodies.

Breast milk is amazing and can heal many things, including diaper rash. Mother Nature takes care of so much all on it's own, we don't need all those antibiotics in our babies

I would do this 4-6 times a day and see how it goes.

Good luck.

Hope this helps.

that is what i did and it worked. breast milk on everything- baby acne, wounds... etc
good luck

First of all, congratulations on your new little one! How exciting!!

To answer your question....absolutely yes! I've had 5 boys and have used breast milk to clear up minor eye infections when they were infants. It always worked, we never needed to use any antibiotic eye ointments and none of my boys has ever had pink eye (and my oldest is now 19)!

As many of the moms have mentioned, breastmilk has definite healing properties. It is sterile and antibacterial which will promote faster healing. It can be used to treat not only eye infections, but also ear infections, diaper rash, a stuffy nose, chapped lips, insect bites, and I think most importantly: SORE NIPPLES.

Your daughter will at some point experience sore or cracked nipples due to breastfeeding (especially if this is her first child). Simply have her rub some of her breastmilk on and around her nipples after each feeding to prevent this common problem from getting too bad. Once again, congratulations! :)

Absolutely. In my breastfeeding support group a number of mothers have been told this by the opthomologist! The antibodies in the breast milk can help fight any infections. So the eye doctors even recommend this...

We had that same situation with our son when he was a newborn and the Pediatrician advised us to squirt breast milk in his eye. It sounded so funny to me at first but it worked!!! The pediatrician and lactation consultant said that breastmilk has healing properties in it...it's quite amazing all that I've learned about breast milk...but even when my son had a cold, I'd squirt some in his nose and he'd improve. Now, this might sound bizarre to most people, but I think it's rather cool...I heard in the news not long ago that a woman was pumping extra breastmilk for her father battling serious cancer and he would mix it into a shake or something and his cancer improved. Wow! I've been pretty amazed by all the things I have learned. Recently I was saw the lactation consultant and since I have been tired recently while my son was slightly anemic she said my body was aware of my sons slight iron deficiency and the breastmilk automatically was taking my iron stores and giving him extra in the milk. So I've started taking iron pills because I became anemic too. Just learning about breastmilk and how it works has confirmed to me so much that we are created by a God who designed this very detailed, natural method of feeding and helping our children to grow and become healthy. Anyhow, congratulations on the grandchild! Tell your daughter to use that breastmilk!

Yes, breastmilk can be used on a newborn's eye. Supposedly the antibodies in the milk can help keep it from getting infected. My son had a blocked tear duct and we had the antibiotic eye drops, but they only helped for a day or 2 before it would get all gunky and goopy again. I got tired of giving him antibiotics for such a short period of relief, so I just stuck to cleaning it with a damp cloth. It cleared up by 10 weeks. Congratulations on your grandbaby!

I also wanted to add after reading other responses that it's not likely to be pinkeye, so don't get worried. That is a totally different problem than a newborn blocked tear duct.

Hi M.,

I know exactly what you and your daughter are going through. All three of my kids have had clogged tear ducts.

Antibiotics work pretty well for a while, but since the closure was an ongoing issue, the bacteria eventually became resistant to the antibiotic, and it stopped working. I have used warm wash cloths, massaging the corner of the eye to open the closure and push out the mucous, and breast milk. All of these solutions work pretty well too, but you have to be a strong mom to do these things because babies hate being messed with this way, so they squirm and fuss. A doctor/friend recently suggested I try a little chamomile on the washcloth.

The clogged tear duct went away for two of my three kids by 9 months (my third is 6 months and still has it). If it doesn't go away, doctors might open it with minor surgery. My pediatrician told me that the closure and the mucous will not affect the baby's eyesight later - it just isn't very pretty. Still, the pediatrician should look at it during every doctor visit.

I hope this info helps!


Even though it sounds kind of strange, breastmilk is great for a lot of things, it helps the umblicical cord fall off, helps the clear up blocked tear ducts, and can even help with cuts and scratches. I didn't find this out until after my son's umbilical cord fell off, but I will try it with the next one.

Especially COLOSTRUM =D

I used it for pinkeye and it was gone in hours. Might not have been "the" pinkeye, but I wouldn't hesitate to use it for that as well. Just don't rub your eye or anyone else's on your nipple afterwards. And do wash your hands. ;)

My son had clogged tear ducts for MONTHS after he was born. We got the drops as well which would clear it up temporarily but it always came back. Finally the dr said we didn't have to do the drops but just wait it out while wiping his eyes w a warm rag when they got gunky. For a long time people always would see him and say how sad he must have been crying. I always said "he's fine, he just has watery eyes, he's not sad". Eventually it cleared up, no biggie. I have also heard about using breast mild to help however. I would think it certainly can't hurt. Good luck!

You can use the breast milk or even just try wiping the discharge away with a warm compress from the inside of the eye to the outside and then massaging gently the ducts on the bottom lid to help unclog them. Using antibiotics is not necessary, particularly because it can be a recurring problem and the warm compresses are the best way to treat this. We were also given the antibiotic for our newborn but decided to try the compresses instead. Cleared up in a few days and only happened one more time after that. Good luck.

Yes, because breast milk contains antibodies that help fight off infections. Therefore, it is a great help to the infected tear duct, in addition to the warm wash cloth and eye drops. Next time around, your daughter can just use the warm wash cloth and the breast milk and see if that does the trick. I have 2 little one and I have used this for both of them.

Yes, my 4 week old had the same thing during her first few weeks, and needed eye ointment for the infection. And my pediatrician also said that breast milk on the eye is helpful. I didn't try it because the eye had cleared by then, but wouldn't hesitate to do it should the need arise.

Hi M.,

This happened with my son too and it cleared up after a few weeks (if I remember correctly). Our midwives also recommended wiping the eyes and suggested the breast milk in the eye as it has anti-bacterial properties. We figured it was worth a try, and didn't feel the need to use antibiotics since this isn't an infection. Of course if an infection actually developed, we would have. (Which can happen with the build up of mucous).


Yes I have heard of putting a couple drops (please don't squirt it directly into their eye lol) in their eye will help with things like pink eye. I would try the breast milk before the antibiotics for sure. Good luck!

Yes, my older daughter had crusty eyes as a newborn, and our pediatrician told us just to use the warm wet washcloth, and then use a little breastmilk in her eye to keep it from getting any kind of infection. It worked!

Yes, it really works! It's not just her culture, but most indigenous cultures around the world still have this knowledge. Breast milk clears up that eye gunk (and many other baby problems) quickly, painlessly and it's free. Just squirt some in the baby's eye.

My 8 week old had a blocked tear duct (still slightly). when I took her to the pediatrician, I asked her about breastmilk in the eye. She told me she did not believe in that b/c you are just introducing more food for bacteria in the eye. I would have her ask her own pediatrician. You can also massage under her eye in the inner corner to help the blockage.

Hi M.,
My daughter had the same thing and our Pediatrician told me to squirt breast milk in her eye. My Mom said the same thing so I did it and it worked great! It doesn't take away the crusty things right away, but it does eventually stop and it is a natural way of helping it rather than antibiotic drops.
Just make sure she does it on a regular basis and make sure she doesn't wipe the eye too much as that can spread it vs taking it away.

Good luck and congrats on the new baby. Mine just turned 1 and I am missing the early days!

Yep, it's true. Breast milk is great for all kinds of things for the new baby. Have your daughter ask the lactation consultant at the hospital where her baby was born, they usually are happy to help out. Congratulations!

i havent heard either way about the breastmilk...however, a warm wash clothe is going to do the same thing in softening and removing the gunk.


In response to your question, I have heard that women use breast milk to soften mucous. I personally have never tried this, but I have heard it. I am not sure if it is an 'old wives tale' but I cannot imagine it hurting the baby. Good luck.
- T.

Breastmilk in the eye is the best way to go and it will clear up. My son's would get crusty off and on during his first year and it eventually just cleared up. The warm compress, squirts of breastmilk and massaging the duct area are excellent ways to help it. No antibiotics are needed. :-)

Yes, very much. It truly works, although I never "squirted" my milk, I let it drip right onto the closed eye and let it sit for a minute. It's easy, cuz you're not sticking anything foreign into the kid's eye and he's not screaming "ahhhh!" If you want another alternative, go to the Co-op and get some Colodial Silver and an amber stock bottle with a dropper. Dilute the Colodial Silver with purified water and that will get rid of infection, eye boogies, and all that stuff. That'll do the trick too.

Hi M.,

Although my kids are grown now, I do seem to recall this happening with one of my sons. Breast milk contains important antibodies, and I believe I used breast milk in this way. I was pretty staunch about natural healing in those days, so I'm quite sure I wouldn't have used antibiotics. In any case, this definitely rang a bell!

Hope this helps...

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