Toddler Rolling Her Eyes Upward – Is This Normal?

As parents, it’s quite understandable that we tend to worry about every little twitch, sneeze, and cough. It’s in our blood to worry about our children, especially if we have very little experience taking care of children.

This takes me to my new motherhood days when I would get so anxious every time my son would cry his lungs out, thinking that there’s something really wrong with my child, but in reality, it was just how babies function.

So, it’s quite obvious for new parents of infants and toddlers to worry about every little thing. Sometimes certain behavior makes us wonder- are babies supposed to do that? Is this behavior a development or an issue, leading to endless research on the internet and frightening us with doomed results?

Eye rolling can sometimes come into this category of a learning curve, but sometimes, it can be due to an underlying issue if the eye-rolling is involuntary.

Why does my toddler roll her eyes?

A young toddler girl is rolling her eyes and then starts rubbing one of them.

Well, as adults, we do it to show the passive-aggressive side, a reaction to something we disagree with. We do it because we know how to do it, but with babies or even toddlers, rolling their eyes isn’t something they have learned to do yet unless their social skills are more developed than their physical age.

So, is it normal for toddlers to roll their eyes?

Well, the short answer will be NO. It’s not common for toddlers or any stage babies to roll their eyes. Infants only tend to roll their eyes when they’re deep asleep.

One of the first reasons why your toddler rolls her eyes is because she can. Every day in the life of a baby and a toddler is learning and discovering new things. So, rolling her eyes can be something she picked up from you, or she does it randomly.

Other reasons for eye rolling can be:

  • Seizure
  • Low blood sugar
  • Head injury
  • Hypoglycemia

If your little one starts rolling her eyes involuntarily after she had suffered a head bump by falling, then seek medical attention immediately. If you suspect any odd behavior after a head injury, never hesitate to take your child to the nearest hospital.

A toddler boy is rubbing his eyes after he's been rolling them up and down.

Parents shouldn’t take situations very lightly where the baby has fallen down and hit her head. It’s best to take the baby to the nearest hospital for a quick consultation.

There are other neurological reasons which can be the underlying reasons why your toddler rolls her eyes. You need to check

Whether there are other symptoms accompanied by the eyes rolling?

Are they doing it intentionally?

Are they rolling their eyes while trying to do something else?

I don’t mean to frighten you, but there are other neurological conditions for toddlers rolling their eyes like…

Paroxysmal Tonic Upgaze

A toddler with this condition will have multiple episodes where their eyes automatically move upward again and again. This action will not seem what children normally would do.

Paroxysmal Downgaze

This is the opposite of Paroxysmal Tonic Upgaze, where the toddler’s eyes will move downwards and will have multiple episodes repeating the same actions.

Infantile Spasms

Infantile spasms will also have other symptoms like the child’s body muscles getting stiff and their head bending forward.

What to do next

Before you invest in endless hours of research on these neurological conditions, it’s best to consult your child’s pediatrician to rule out any medical conditions. It’s very easy for parents to get paranoid about what they read on the internet.

So, worry less, take a deep breath, and go with your instinct.

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Located in India and a mother to a joyfully mischievous son, Kelin is the wife of the world’s most patient man and a busy homemaker. When she’s not busy cooking and running after her kid,  you can find her in a corner reading, or penning down words on her laptop. She believes the world will always try to instil ‘mom guilt’ in new mothers, but she goes by the maxim ‘a mother knows best'.

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