Recently I heard some concerns from a few parents. They were asking why their baby had no eyelashes, and was it normal? I quickly looked back at my son’s photos and realized that he had no eyelashes at all! Intrigued, I did some research, and here’s what I found out.
Most babies are born with eyelashes, and it is normal for it to be long and visible. Some babies have very fine and short eyelashes that make it hard to be noticed, but it is there. It is also common for babies to be born without eyelashes.
So in short, there are babies that are born without eyelashes, and that’s pretty common. Let’s take a deeper look at some other aspects of baby eyelashes.
When do babies start growing eyelashes?
Normally, your baby’s eyelashes will start to show in week 22 of your pregnancy. But neither my gynecologist nor any of my other family member’s gynecologist ever told or highlighted anything about eyelashes.
We have been through other third party pregnancy scanning services, and while they gave us a slew of reports, none of them mentioned anything about hair or eyelashes. And since it is common for babies to be born without eyelashes, scanning for this seems to be pointless as it will not give any indication of your baby’s development progress.
What about babies that are already born? Well, for my boy, he started to grow eyelashes by the start of the second month. Many parents mentioned that eyelashes started to grow for their babies around the end of the first month.
Though fewer, some report that their baby’s eyelashes started growing around the middle of the second month or even the third. When checking with the pediatrician, they get a similar response, that it will come later, and don’t worry about it. I put some of his pictures here for reference.
Nate took five weeks to get some eyelashes, but around the end of the second month, he has fully grown eyelashes. I don’t have his photos with eyelashes at that time, so I put the latest one which is 23 months!
I bumped across an article from the NCBI. It wrote about a baby at 6 months with only scanty hair on the head, no eyebrows or eyelashes. There were no problems with the baby, her parents, siblings, or other family members. Strangely they never updated the article so we don’t know the latest results. [source]
The reason I referenced that article is to give you the idea that it is very rare for babies to be at six months without hair or eyelashes. So definitely seek professional advice if your baby still doesn’t have eyelashes by six months. Since most babies have it by three months at the latest, you should probably check by the end of the third month.
Will your baby’s eyelashes fall out?
Your baby’s eyelashes will fall out. Even adult eyelashes will fall out. Our eyelashes have a three-phase lifecycle, and the whole phase takes four to eleven months to complete. That means some babies will lose eyelashes more than others, and that also means some babies will grow eyelashes faster too.
So yes, your baby’s eyelashes will fall out, and there is nothing to worry about it. The exception is when the eyelashes on either or both eyes are falling out entirely and leaving bald spots; then, you should bring your baby to a specialist as there are known causes to this that may be treated.
Your baby can also pull out her own eyelashes, and it is normal for this to happen because it can be a self-soothing behavior, similar to sucking her thumb, but it should go away after a few months. Just make sure she is not eating the eyelash as it is not digestible.
At other times, rubbing her eyes can also cause the eyelashes to fall out. She can rub her eyes for a variety of reasons, including being tired or something is irritating her eye. It’s the pulling of eyelashes during toddlerhood that we want to take note of. This habit usually goes away by itself, but it can also be Trichotillomania, an OCD that can be treated.
You may also want to check with her pediatrician if she pulls at her eyelashes excessively even when she is enjoying herself, which means she is not self-soothing, or when nothing is irritating her eyes. If this behavior continues for a few days, it may be safer just to check during her monthly checkups.
Is it important for babies to have eyelashes?
Eyelashes protect the baby’s eyes from debris, dust, and other small particles. They are also sensitive to touch, so it provides a warning that something is near the eye and babies will reflectively shut their eyes, very useful!
But not to the extent that they can’t live without eyelashes. As I said earlier, we didn’t even pay particular attention when our boy didn’t have eyelashes for the first month. That said, there are some basic things that you can do to protect her eyes until her eyelashes grow.
- Keep the environment dust-free, clean the place often.
- Don’t do any cleaning when your baby is around.
- Reduce going outdoors for the time being.
- Cover her eyes from direct sunlight.
- Clean the area surrounding the eyes more frequently.
Babies with long eyelashes
Some babies are born with long eyelashes, in some cases, very long! But they generally don’t cause any issues. It does, however, make it easier for your baby to pull at it. If eyelashes keep getting stuck in your baby’s eye because it is too long, consult her pediatrician. They can teach you how to trim your baby’s eyelashes.
In some rare cases, long eyelashes can get tangled up with one another and makes it difficult for your baby to open her eyes. In such cases, you need to bring her to a doctor and learn how to trim it.
Rheum is mucus produced by the eye, and it can also get trapped at the eyelashes, making it difficult to open the eyes, so make sure you clean it often. In most cases, you do not need to trim her eyelashes, and I’m sure it makes your baby look even more gorgeous!
Removing eyelashes from your baby’s eye
Whether or not your baby was born with eyelashes, sooner or later, you will need to remove those that fall into her eye. When your baby’s eye is irritated, and she starts rubbing, you should check for debris. Sometimes, your baby may not rub her eyes or show any signs of irritation, so it may be good to check once in a while.
I have found eyelashes in my son’s eye a few times, and he didn’t feel anything. Anyway, most of the time, the eyelashes will eventually get out of the eye, but if your baby doesn’t have tears yet, it can be harder to come out by itself. If you need to intervene, make sure you wash your hands first.
It’s best to have another adult to hold the head of your baby, while you gently rinse her eyes with lukewarm water. Put a towel beneath her, and you may catch the foreign object in it as it comes out. Pull her eyelids down gently if she shuts her eye.
You can use a clean damp cloth as well but be very gentle. I prefer not to use cotton swabs on my son’s eyes as I don’t want to force it into his eyes when he moves accidentally. If you still can’t remove it, consider bringing her to a doctor, especially if her eyes start to turn red.