Why Does My Baby Have Bags Under His Eyes? Causes and Management

Are you losing sleep as your life shifted to a baby-centered one lately? Yes, you understand that newborn habit is alternating between sleeping, eating, and pooping. You are already getting used to the drill… well, almost. Until you look at your baby and you realize he mirrors your puffy eyes with those under-eye bags too. Is it because your baby is not getting enough zzz’s, or does it indicate something else?

Puffy eyes can happen to children of all ages – even newborns. The pressure that your newborn has to go through during childbirth can cause him eye puffiness. Eye bags, or sometimes dark circles around your infant or toddlers’ eyes, are also normal. Sometimes, it is due to seasonal allergy as a result of nasal congestion. When it happens, other symptoms like sneezing, stuffy and runny nose are also present. Breastfed infants may develop puffy eyes as an allergic reaction to their mom’s diet.

What Gives Babies Eye Bags?

For us adults, eye bags and dark circles are nothing unusual. It can either appear as discoloration or a sack of puff, which some women can conceal under make-ups. But seeing it in babies, we would either freak out or leave it be.

With most children spending their playtime with gadgets, it is no wonder why they are somewhat sleep-deprived. I don’t want to shame parents, but most of them are probably guilty of overexposing their children to gadgets. Why not? There are educational apps for toddlers and entertainment activities for very young ones.

I am guilty of this myself. If I want to make friends with children, I would pull out my phone and fire up Youtube. Yet, experts are continually reminding parents to properly manage their children’s screen time for health and development reasons.  

However, lack of sleep and tiredness alone is not the reason why babies develop eye bags. According to Doctor Dwight Lindo, a consultant pediatrician and neonatologist, there are other reasons why babies have them.

Genetic Predisposition

Puffy eyes could be caused by genetic disposition

If your family has prominent eye bags, you can always expect the same in your baby. It is the same with dark circles. Babies with fairer complexion and thinner skin will show more obvious dark circles.

The skin under our eyes is thinner. It makes the blood vessels in the area appear more noticeable. So, the dark rings are really just your baby’s blood vessel pigmentation.

What can you do?

Eye bags and dark circles in babies come and go. But as they get older, there is a possibility that it will stay. If he is crying and rubbing his eyes, eye bags will likely show up. There is nothing you can do about hereditary eye bags other than helping your child embrace them later in life.

Edema after Birth

Right after their birth, not all babies look at their cutest. Moms are not the only one who goes through the huge ordeal of vaginal birth. Their little ones literally come in all shapes and sizes too.

Some babies have elongated heads, while a few others have disrupted body symmetry owing to KISS Baby Syndrome. The most common are babies with puffy under-eye bags or what we call edema.

It is due to the pressure in the birth canal as the baby pushes himself out of the cramped-up uterus. It will appear as if the baby is swelling. This concerns most moms whenever they receive their newborns from the nursery.

What can you do?

There is nothing to worry about and nothing much to do about your newborn’s puffy eye bags. He will get rid of that bulge as the days go by. All you need to do is wait for a couple more days.


Baby having puffy eyes because of allergies

Sinus and other respiratory infections can cause swollen eyes and dark circles in babies. That’s because nasal congestion will restrict blood flow to your baby’s eyes. And again, since the skin around the eyes is thinner, it cannot cover up the affected soft tissues. Furthermore, your baby may also be losing sleep when he is not feeling well. But the eye swelling is usually mild and will clear up as soon as the child gets better.

For breastfed babies, the allergen in his mothers’ diet is passed on to him. The signs will show in your baby’s eyes. When it seems that your baby has eye bags because of a sinus infection or allergy, it merits a trip to the doctor. He can differentiate the symptoms and apply the necessary treatment like an antihistamine prescription.

The common allergens in babies may include:

  • Food
  • Detergent
  • Industrial Chemicals
  • Dust and Dander
  • Metallurgic substances like copper or wire

What can you do?

Removing allergen from your baby’s stuff and foods will manage, if not totally, prevent flare-ups of allergies. Change, wash and iron his beddings often. If your baby has nasal congestion, a saltwater rinse or nasal spray will help him clear it. You can also elevate his head when sleeping to increase fluid drainage through his nose.

If you are breastfeeding, removing allergens from your diet will help solve the problem. But what among them is a hypothetical question. Only proper observation may pinpoint you to the allergen in question.  


Baby with puffy eyes due to tiredness
A newborn baby who opens his eyes and looks forward

Babies’ sleeping routine differs almost after every three months of his age since his birth, but not every child can sleep through the night every time. When babies are not getting enough restful sleep, they will mostly get extra fussy and develop some unmistakable eye bags.

The term sleeping like a baby is a false simile. They are actually very light sleepers and get startled by noises constantly. Half of their sleep is REM or that dream sleep where you would notice their eyes moving back and forth.

Toddlers may also have other reasons to wake up during the night. It might be a nightmare, bedwetting, or sleepwalking.

What can you do?

Helping your baby sleep with a little intervention as possible may give him a little more shut-eye. Put him to bed earlier and help him get a night of adequate sleep. It may help solve your baby’s eye bag dilemma one way or another.

Insect Bites

Insect and other bugs are inevitable visitors that may give your baby puffy eyes. An insect bite near your baby’s face will cause the loose eye tissues to swell. But this occurrence does not limit to the under-eye swelling alone as it can also appear in the upper eyelids.

Mostly, the eye swelling has some pinkish or reddish color to it. The swollen part is sometimes not painful, but it is always itchy. Bug bites are common in children from one year to five years of age.

What can you do?

When your baby has an insect bite, a cold compress will help alleviate the itching and swelling. You can apply ice wrapped in a wet cloth to reduce the puffiness. Doing this after every 20 minutes will temporarily manage the swell, although it will not totally cure it.


Anemia causing your baby to have puffy eyes

Anemia is not a common cause of dark eye circles in babies. Yet, although it is not common, it may also be possible in some children.

Kids with iron deficiency may develop dark circles secondary to having pale and pallid skin. They also appear sluggish, cranky, and tired all the time.

What can you do?

Bring him to a pediatrician. A simple blood test will diagnose if your baby has anemia. Your doctor may also refer him to a hematologist if this is the case. But usually, an iron supplement will do much in treating this condition.

Frequently Asked Questions

When should I worry about my baby’s under-eye bags?

If the eye bags do not seem to come from genetics, lack of sleep, sickness, or allergy, talk to your doctor. He can rule out if your baby has other underlying health conditions.

Will giving water help eliminate eye bags in babies?

Dehydration may sometimes cause under-eye swelling in children. Water does help them get the hydration that they need and improve their bodily functions. But not all babies, especially those under six months old, need to be given water. Breastfed babies do not need it. See our guide in giving formula-feed babies water here.  

Is it possible to fix genetic eyebags?

We bet you are asking this more for yourself than your baby. You can minimize the appearance of eye bags and dark circles through some lifestyle changes. Hydration and avoiding salt are just among the steps to lessen the eye-puffiness.


Puffy eyes in children are not always a pressing concern. Sometimes, just rubbing the eye can result in eye bags since the eye tissues are loose and prone to swelling. Genetics can contribute to its prominence even in little children as well.

But whether or not your child shows some under-eye bags, you should always ensure that your child gets adequate sleep. It will help boost his physical development. Proper sleep is also essential in every child’s cognitive and emotional development.

If your child has other symptoms accompanying the swelling, it is best to talk to your pediatrician.

Did you see eye bags on your child? What did you do to manage it? Share your experience with us and other parents by commenting down below.

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Ann Marie is a licensed nurse in the Philippines. She experienced handling and assisting deliveries of newborns into the world. She also trained in labor rooms and pediatric wards while in nursing school - helping soon-to-be mothers and little kids in the process. Though not a mother by nature but a mother by heart, Ann Marie loves to take care of her younger cousins as well as nephews and nieces during her free time.

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