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  • Post last modified:December 11, 2020
  • Post comments:4 Comments

Mom’s Question:

My baby cries but no tears appear; what is wrong? Is something wrong with his eyes? They don’t seem unusual in any way, but it can’t be normal for a baby to not have tears, or can it?


Baby Helpline:

Do Babies Cry With Tears Or Not?

You don’t mention the age of your baby, but if newborn or very young, many parents wonder if their baby is really producing tears, because the babies certainly cry, but not necessarily with visible tears.

Although babies do produce tears right from the start, the quantities are so small in the beginning that they go unnoticed. Preterm babies are known to have reduced basal tear secretion while babies born full-term do have tear secretion similar to that in adults; just not as apparent and abundant. It can actually take several months before a baby cries with “real” tears.

The way the tear ducts work, if functioning properly, is the moisture is produced in the upper outer gland of the eye, flows over the eye, and is then drained into a duct in the nose. When someone cries, it might be that the overflow of tears run down the cheeks instead. Some babies have such well-functioning tear ducts that they can cry without tears. Others have plugged tear ducts in the nose and will produce tears even without crying. (Common in newborn babies.)

It is very uncommon for babies to not produce any tears at all. Have a close look at your baby’s eyes the next time he cries. If there is no excess moisture at all, then contact a pediatrician to check his eyes.

However, unless your baby has other problems with his/her eyes for example if they are very red, dry, or seem to be infected, this is usually not something to worry about. (But you can still talk to the doctor at the next health checkup to make sure everything is fine.)

Hope this helps!


Find comments below.


Jul 02, 2011Baby Crying Without Tears Comment

by: Debbi

Hi, Danielle,
As a mother of six, I only had one infant that did not make tears naturally and eventually had to have his tear ducts opened.
Sometimes at birth a small, thin flap of skin covers the area where tears drop from our eyes.
The tear ducts will often open on their own between birth and one year of age.
I understand that there is usually not a major concern if the tear ducts are not open, unless the baby has reached his or her one year birthday without tear production or if there is infection, swelling, or fever associated with the tear duct area.

Aug 25, 2011Crying no tears
by: Anonymous
My toddler is 17 months old and still cries no tears. He has no eye infections or redness. He has been hurt a few times where his cry was “the hurt” cry.. and still no tears.

Aug 05, 2011No tears
by: Cheree
We have just been to the eye dr as my 18 month old still hasn’t had tears. Apparently it isn’t a problem as his eyes still have moisture. He may not ever have tears which seems a little sad but it won’t cause him any harm.

Aug 25, 2011My son has the same condition

by: Anonymous

Hi Danielle,

I am glad to hear that your doctor said it was normal as long as your 18 months old had his eyes moisturized. I have a 3 year old and he does not have tears either and the doctor told me the same thing. I feel relief that my son is not the only one in that situation

Dec 22, 2011no emotional tears
by: Amber
This is the first time I’ve even seen a reference of any sort to this. My daughter is nearly 4 years old and has never made a tear in response to emotion. They don’t so much as even glisten, no puffiness, no redness – like they are simply not connected. Her ducts are fine, she has never had issues with dry eyes or flushing foreign bodies. Her doctors have never heard of this and it has remained a curiosity. We go to see a neurologist next month for an unrelated issue, I plan to bring this up just to see if they have any info at all. If we find anything out at all I’ll let y’all know…

Feb 22, 2012Baby without tears

by: Elena

hi, my name is Elena. i have a child almost 3 years old, and i’ve never seen his tears.Doctor said that is normal but i’m still worrying.

Jun 14, 2012the same with my boy
by: Elena B.
My baby is 9 months old and still no tears. He had a conjunctivitis a month ago, but it healed quickly (he caught it from daddy). I’m seeing a new doctor in a few days, hope to find good news.

Jan 23, 2013Toddler with no tears

by: Anonymous

My daughter is almost 3 and she also has never shed a tear. Her eyes don’t get glassy or even get puffy. I took her to the eye doctor and they seemed shocked and told me to bring her back in 6 months. She has never had an infection in her eyes and has never had morning crust. They seem to be moist. It just seems very odd that when she is hurt or sad she doesnt shed a tear. She is my 5th child and this is new to me. Her ped also said not to be concerned yet. But as a mother its hard not to worry.

Feb 03, 2013Tearless crying

by: Anonymous

Hi my name is Stephanie. After I noticed my son wasn’t crying tears after age 1 I took him in. The local eye dr wasn’t concerned but I knew it wasn’t right and went with my gut to have it checked further.

By the time we got to the pediatric specialist he said had it been left uncared for he’d have probably been blind by the time he was in high school or at least partially. He immediately placed plugs in the lower lids to keep what moisture he does make from draining.

Contemplating doing the upper lids. This is very rare, hard to find anything on it. He calls it congenital alacrima but my son is perfectly healthy other than he doesn’t cry tears. He’s now 3 years old and we go every 6 months to make sure his eyes aren’t too dry and the plugs are still there and working.

But please push it, don’t settle for “that’s interesting but he’ll be ok” because had I, my son would be paying the price later on in life.

Oct 03, 2013NO TEARS

by: Dean

My son has gone past his first bday without producing tears! we have just had a hospital appointment and have been told not to worry, his eyes are perfectly healthy & unless they go red & saw there is nothing to worry about.

We have been told that the tears may form lower down (than what I’m not sure) and maybe the majority of the wetness disperses (sorry my spelling is poor) through his nose.

We have been told to come back to the hospital in 3-6 months for another check up but were told the problem should have corrected itself by then (but not to worry if it hasnt).

I quite like it that my son doesn’t cry tears…..it means he’s happy ;0)

Oct 10, 2013No tears!
by: Anonymous
Hello there,

I’ve a seven-year-old son who has never shed a tear even when he’s really really hurt. His eyes could glisten when he’s hurt or upset but you never see the tears fall. Never have I wished in my life to see someone cry as I’ve done with him. I know that sounds horrible but I feel if he could cry out tears that will be a good indication that everything’s ok.

He’s my first child, so when he was a baby I thought it was normal for babies not to shed tears when they cry. But his sister came along and sheds tears even when she’s a tiny little bit upset and so does my third child also.

I’ve also been told that is ok as long he’s got moisture in his eyes and I try not to let it bother me but sometimes there’s this part of me that often wonders if all is well. If anyone ever finds out anything, pls don’t hesitate to post.

Cheers y’all. Here’s to the good health of our families.

Oct 21, 2013No tears & no sweat
by: Anonymous
My daughter is now 18 & has never had a tear. I have been told by doctors that if they got a hammer and used it then she would make tears. I can assure you she won’t. About the time she was 9 yrs she was diagnosed with a form of ectodermyl dysplaysia where kids don’t have tears. They also don’t sweat. So check you kids to see if they sweat. It often goes together. If this is the case, then be aware that they can heat up very quickly, and can go into shock.

My daughter had 2 febrile convulsions before she was 2yrs old, and the doctors still didn’t pick it. We manage it with ice packs and air-con on warm days. Her only sport is swimming. I still cannot find a doctor who knows anything about this.

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Saurabh

    My baby is 26 months old and he never had a tear. His eyes are fine and even doctors say his eyes are normal. Somebody told me about Triple A syndrome. What is it? Is it dangerous?

    1. Paula @ EasyBabyLife

      Hi Saurabh,
      Triple A syndrome is another name for “Achalasia Addisonianism Alacrimia syndrome”. It is an inherited condition, where absence of tears is one of the symptoms (alacrimia). Achalasia is a disorder that affects the ability to move food from the throat and down to the stomach. This leads to feeding difficulties. The third A stands for Addisonianism, or Addison’s disease, which has to do with abnormal function of some small hormone-producing glands on top of the kidneys.

      The condition can be severe and needs treatment, but it is extremely rare, so it is not likely that your baby has it. The first symptom to show is usually lack of tears, which is probably why someone mentioned it to you. However, at least one more of the two other disorders need to be present too for the diagnosis.

      You can certainly discuss Triple A with your child’s doctor, but again, it is not a likely reason for the lack of tears.

      That said, I think it may still be wise to try to go the bottom with why your baby does not produce tears. I would recommend you to take your baby to a pediatric ophthalmologist to get it sorted out and to learn if he needs any type of treatment. It sounds good that the doctors’ say that his eyes are fine, but he still should be producing tears to moisturize the eyes.

      Good luck, and please let me know how things develop!

  2. SpecialNeedsNetwork

    My daughter is 16 years old and had been labelled with Cerebral Palsy, low tone, small head, and developmental delay. She has just been diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called N-Glycanase Deficiency or NGLY1. At this time (January 2015) she is just 1 of 21 children diagnosed with this worldwide. One of the main symptoms of this disorder is Alacrima or lack of producing emotional tears. If this sounds like it could be your child then please go to http://www.NGLY1.org. Please dont hesitate in contacting us, we are parents who had been looking for answers like you have.

  3. erin

    This is the first place I have ever seen any reference to this. My son is six and has never cried tears, he hurts himself and cries out but no tears, not even in response to sadness. He does get very angry and has violent temper tantrums. I have thought that if he could cry he might not get so worked up.he is seeing a specialist in October at great ormand st for suspected autism so I shall bring it up then.