I Asked, “Are Newborn Eyes Rolling Back Normal?” The Answer

I Asked, “Are Newborn Eyes Rolling Back Normal?” The Answer

Newborns have weak eye muscles as they are still learning to control their eyes. Baby’s eye-rolling and circular eye movements are actually healthy for them controlling their eye movements and, yes, also their eye rolls. However, an infant’s eye-rolling usually gets their parents worried, and you should know that is not necessary.

Most babies roll their eyes to get the necessary muscle control to control their eyes. This is a completely normal developmental phenomenon. A baby can have abnormal eye rolling or maybe even excessive eye movement due to their eyes still developing. Know that this is a completely normal stage of development in babies.

What Can Cause Your Eyes to Roll Back?


A seizure can be defined as an unexpected and instantaneous flow of electrical charges in the brain. The brain is in charge of directing and organizing the body through the electrical impulses that nerve cells use to communicate with one another.

Abnormal electrical activity during a seizure can temporarily impede a number of distinct processes, resulting in a wide range of consequences. Convulsions, limb stiffening, mental perplexity, unconsciousness, eye-rolling, staring, nibbling the tongue, and defecation are a few of the most common signs.

Seizures are sudden and temporary alterations in brain function, often accompanied by convulsions, loss of consciousness, and other symptoms. The length of these episodes might range from just a few seconds to several minutes.

While seizures are often associated with epilepsy, they can also occur in individuals without the condition. Seizures can be brought on by a number of factors including fever, lack of sleep, electrolyte disturbances, certain drugs, substance abuse, overdosing, head traumas, accidents, low blood sugar, and neurological disorders. Seizures may also be isolated incidents, so not everyone who experiences one will necessarily have more.


Epilepsy is a long-lasting neurological disorder characterized by recurrent seizures without any apparent trigger. It is diagnosed when a person has had more than one or two seizures that are not related to another medical issue.

There are two main categories of seizures associated with epilepsy: generalized seizures that affect both sides of the brain and focal seizures that impact only a specific region. There are also several subtypes within these categories, each having its own signs. For instance, during an absence seizure, the eyes may roll backward into the head. Depending on the kind of seizure, a seizure’s signs might change.

As per the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the cause of epilepsy is not always identifiable, with approximately half of all cases having unknown origins. However, certain factors have been known to contribute to the development of epilepsy. These include a genetic predisposition, as the condition can be inherited from parents or relatives.


Nystagmus is a neurological disorder characterized by uncontrolled eye movements, including fast or slow eye-rolling. The condition can be categorized into different types, including vertical nystagmus, which is the uncontrollable up-and-down movement of the eyes. This looks like when a baby rolls his eyes back. Other signs of nystagmus include light sensitivity, impaired vision, oscillopsia, or the perception that the surroundings are shaking, confusion, excessive irritability, or vertigo.

Nystagmus may be present from birth or appear later in life as a result of particular diseases. Strokes, head injuries, brain tumors, infantile spasms, and multiple sclerosis can all trigger nystagmus. Inner ear problems, such as Meniere’s disease, as well as vision problems and eye conditions like congenital cataracts and crossed eyes, may also lead to the development of nystagmus.

Additionally, individuals with albinism may experience this condition, as well as those who use alcohol or illegal drugs. Certain medications, including anti-seizure drugs and lithium, can also cause nystagmus.

People must seek medical care promptly if they develop any of these symptoms to determine the cause of the condition and get proper treatment.

Midbrain Injury

The midbrain is responsible for controlling your vertical gaze, and any conditions affecting this region can result in an abnormal upward or downward eye movement, referred to as vertical gaze palsy. Some of the most common causes of this condition include a neocortex brain tumor, hydrocephalus, a midbrain blood clot, neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis, Huntington’s disease, as well as Parkinson’s disease, viral infections like encephalitis or Whipple’s disease, substance use and abuse, and any injury to the skull.

These medical conditions can cause significant damage to the midbrain, leading to a loss of control over eye movements and causing vertical gaze palsy. Always seek medical attention if you experience any unusual eye movements, as prompt treatment can help prevent further damage and preserve vision.

How Seizures May Cause Your Eyes to Roll Back

Seizures can cause a range of symptoms, including eye movements. During a seizure, electrical pathways in the brain become disrupted, causing various physical and cognitive symptoms. One of the most noticeable symptoms is the rolling back of the eyes, which can occur in some types of seizures. The medical term for this is “nystagmus.”

Nystagmus is a common symptom of certain types of seizures, particularly those that affect the temporal lobe of the brain. The temporal lobe processes the auditory and visual information and is the brain’s visual cortex, so a seizure in this area can cause involuntary eye-rolling. This happens because the muscles that control eye movements are also affected by the electrical activity of the seizure.

In some cases, nystagmus can be a temporary symptom that lasts only a few seconds or minutes. In others, it may persist even after the seizure has ended. Nystagmus can occur more or less frequently, last longer, or be more severe, depending on the individual and the kind of seizure they are having.

The Basic Newborn Reflexes

Basic Newborn Reflexes

Root reflex: One of the common reflexes seen in newborns. This is brought on by caressing or massaging the baby’s lips, generally the corners. In response, the baby will turn its head and open its mouth, searching for the source of stimulation. This helps the infant locate the nipple for feeding. The rooting reflex lasts for about three to four months.

Sucking reflex: The sucking reflex is an essential aspect of a baby’s development and is linked to the rooting reflex. When you touch a baby’s mouth, they instinctively start sucking. Around the 32nd week of pregnancy, the reflex begins to appear, and by the 36th week, it is completely developed. Premature infants, however, could have poorer or less mature sucking skills. Babies also have the hand-to-mouth reflex, which causes them to suck and bite on their hands or fingers.

Moro reflex: Infants will often experience the Moro reflex when they are startled by a loud noise, a quick action, or even a flash of light. The infant cries out, throws their head to the side, extends their hands and legs, rolls their eyes, and then pulls their legs back. Sometimes, even the noise of their very own cries might trigger a reaction in them. This startle reflex lasts until the baby is two months old.

Tonic neck reflex: A baby’s natural response to having its head tilted to one side is known as the tonic neck reflex. A “fencing” stance is created by extending the arm on the side of the body that the head is facing while bending the opposite arm at the elbow. This reflex is typically present in infants until they reach the age of 5 to 7 months, after which it begins to fade.

Babinski reflex: A Babinski reflex is a typical response observed in newborns when their foot is stimulated. This response can be elicited by gently running a finger from the heel to the toes on the sole of the baby’s foot. In a normal reaction, as the other toes stretch out, the big toe rises skyward. The reflex was first documented by Joseph Babinski, a neurologist, in the year 1896 and is also referred to as the Babinski sign. The Babinski reflex ultimately declines and completely disappears with time.

Grasping reflex: There are two types of grasping reflexes found in babies: the palmar grasp and the plantar grasp. The palmar grasp is located in the baby’s hand and can be triggered by gently stroking the palm of the hand. The infant will intuitively grab the finger and grip on tight when this occurs. It can even cling more tightly if you attempt to release your fingers. This reflex typically lasts until the baby reaches 5 to 6 months of age. The plantar grip persists all through adulthood. Sliding a finger beneath the infant’s toes will allow you to check this reflex. The infant will coil their toes all around the finger if the reflex has been developed.

Stepping reflex: The stepping or walking reflex is commonly referred to as the dancing reflex in infants. A baby seems to walk or dance if positioned straight and with their feet in contact with a hard surface. This automatic response is present for around two months. It represents a crucial developmental turning point that helps prepare the baby for walking in the future. The stepping reflex is an amazing aspect of human development and demonstrates how even at a young age, our bodies are wired to move and explore our environment.

Is it Normal for My 2 Week Olds Eyes to Roll Back?

A baby may experience unusual eye movements or even rolling of their eyes in the first six months. This is a result of their eyes not being fully mature, and they lack muscle control. Their eyes need some time to properly concentrate, follow, and identify recognizable objects and people.

When they are wide awake, you may observe your baby rolls his eyes back as he is falling asleep or waking up. This is a natural occurrence that often happens along with yawning and stretching, indicating that your baby is ready to fall asleep. Babies frequently engage in active sleep when they fall asleep, which might include crying, snoring, breathing noisily, and rolling their eyelids. You can catch a glimpse of your baby’s rolling eyes during the REM phase of deep sleep. This is a common phenomenon that all of us experience while sleeping. Rest assured, these eye movements are actually developmental milestones.

Early Detection of Seizures in Infants Crucial to Brain Development

Infant seizures are a typical neurological emergency that affects around 1 to 5 out of every 1,000 newborns. Although some seizures may only last for a few minutes and cause no lasting harm, frequent seizures can result in brain damage and have a significant impact on the baby’s development.

Early detection of seizures is crucial, as this is an essential period in the development of the brain, and undiagnosed seizures can lead to future learning and memory difficulties and even be life-threatening. Despite this, recognizing seizures in infants can be challenging, even for experts and parents, making prompt treatment all the more important. With 100 out of every 100,000 infants suffering seizures, it is crucial to be aware of the signs and symptoms of this condition to ensure that infants receive the treatment they need to prevent any long-term damage.

How Do I Know If My Baby Is Having a Seizure?

The manifestation of seizures in babies varies based on the specific type they are undergoing.

Subtle seizures

Among the most frequently seen seizures in infants are those that are usually subtle. These seizures often occur during an early stage of infancy and can be challenging to identify as the signs can mimic regular movements. Rolling eyes, blinking, gazing, rapid eye movement, tongue sticking out, leg cycling, and continuous irregular breathing interruptions are some warning signs of mild seizures.

Clonic seizure

A clonic seizure involves twitching or jerking movements that occur in a baby’s body. These uncontrolled muscle spasms may result in the clenching or twitching of various parts of the baby’s body, such as the face, arms, and legs. Parents or caregivers may also observe a baby roll his eyes. If a baby’s eyes roll and the baby’s breathing is shaky, they should head to the emergency room immediately.

Tonic-clonic seizures

These are a type of seizure that feature stiffening followed by jerking movements. People may experience symptoms of both a tonic and clonic seizure. In some cases, underlying conditions such as cerebral palsy may cause prolonged seizures that need long-term care. If a baby experiences a seizure, has trouble breathing, and loses focus, or the symptoms persist for over 5 minutes, emergency medical attention is necessary.

Newborn Eye-Rolling Is Normal

Newborn eye-rolling is one of the regular eye movements in babies. A newborn’s eye movement will look like abnormal eye movements to grown-ups because they can control their eye movements easily, but a baby cannot. Babies roll their eyes around and back too, and this is perfectly normal. If you notice eye-rolling, there is no need to be alarmed. However, if you do notice some other symptoms or jerky body movements, it is better to seek medical advice.