If you find your baby pulling on his ears or itching, perhaps he’s going through pain in the ears. Babies under a year old find it difficult to locate the pain, so it would help if you as a parent can watch out for signs that will help you check whether he has caught some infection in the ear or if he’s just playing with himself.
Here are 5 reasons why your baby might be rubbing his ears:
- Swimmer’s Ear: If you find your baby pulling, itching or tugging on his outer ear, perhaps he could be suffering from Swimmer’s ear or Otitis externa. Swimmer’s ear infects the lining of the outer ear canal that happens when water enters the ear canal after a bath or shower. It could also happen when cotton swabs are dipped into the ear canal and irritation results. Soon, the protective lining of the skin is eroded and the area is perfect for bacteria to proliferate.
Removing water: By removing all water from the baby’s ears, infants can be protected from Swimmer’s ear.
Have dry ears: Cover the ears of your baby while giving him a bath.
- Ear Infection: Ear infection or Otitis media can make your baby pull and scratch his ear. This is common among babies ranging from six months upwards. Symptoms they experience include ear pain, yellow ear drainage, runny nose, hearing loss, fever and problems with sleep. Your baby may also cry a lot while he’s being fed because sucking and swallowing will put extra pressure on his ears.
Warm compress: Place a warm compress on the baby’s ear for about 15 minutes to ease the pain.
Acetaminophen: For babies older than six months, it would help to give acetaminophen for fever and pain relief. Let your doctor recommend pain relief medication with accompanying instructions. A dose at bedtime would help immensely.
Drink a lot of fluids: Give your little one a lot of fluids to drink. This can help the trapped fluid in the Eustachian tube to drain effectively.
- Teething: If you find your baby pulling his ears, or batting or scratching them, it could be in answer to the fact that he is teething. Perhaps, your baby wrongly thinks that the pain he experiences is an ear ache rather than his swollen gums. If he is teething, you should also watch out for these signs: drooling, fussing and chewing on items. He may have a fever not exceeding 101 degrees Fahrenheit.
Gum massage: Wash your hands and then apply your index finger to your baby’s sore gums so that the pain of teething reduces with your gentle massage.
Cold spoon: Place a spoon in the fridge to chill. Place the cooled spoon to your baby’s gums. This will help ease the pain of teething.
Cold washcloth: Wet a washcloth in cold water and let your baby bite it to bring comfort to your teething baby.
- Cold infection: When your baby is barely a year old and catches a cold, this could lead to ear infections. Babies develop what is called Otitis Media. It occurs when the baby’s Eustachian tube develops a cold infection that leads to a swelling in the tube. This leads to a blockage that causes mucus to collect in the middle ear. This area may be infected with bacteria. Otitis media occurs in babies when their immune systems are under developed and their Eustachian tubes cannot drain fluid entirely from the middle ear.
Babies with a cold causes the baby’s middle ear to swell up. The swelling traps fluid inside the baby’s ear and creates a humid environment where viruses and bacteria can proliferate.
Steam: By inhaling moist air, the mucus in the baby’s nasal passages can be loosened. It can also relax your baby.
Humidifier: Place a humidifier in your baby’s bedroom while he sleeps or rests.
- Earwax: Babies develop earwax as they grow older. The build-up of ear wax happens when cotton swabs are put in the ear canal, perhaps to clean the ears. Till babies reach their teens, Q-tips are wider than one’s ear canal. So, they push the earwax back inside the ear.
Use a washcloth: Since a cotton swab usually causes wax to build up in your baby’s ears, you shouldn’t use it to clean your baby’s ear canals. A better solution would be to wash the baby’s outer ears using a washcloth, taking care not to let water or soap enter the canal. If you don’t use cotton swabs, there’s no way by which earwax can build up. However, even after you stop using cotton swabs, you still see wax in your baby’s ears, use a safe OTC ear-drop to soften the wax and let it come out by itself.
Hydrogen peroxide: Half fill a bottle with hydrogen peroxide and fill the other half with water. Now, shake the bottle so that the solution mixes well. Before you use hydrogen peroxide solution to clean your baby’s ears, speak to your doctor first.
Olive oil: Warm a few drops of olive oil and use a dropper to put it in your baby’s ears. This will help soften the wax in your baby’s ears. Before you choose to go with this treatment, speak to your baby’s pediatrician. While you play safe with olive oil, be equally safe about not using ear candles and ear syringes sold at pharmacies. This is because you may inadvertently use a lot of pressure, despite water, that can hurt the delicate ear drums of your baby.
- You can reduce the pressure on your baby by keeping his head raised. If your baby’s older than two years old but doesn’t sleep in a crib, you can use a pillow when she is in bed. When he is seated in his car seat, let him sit erect. After he feels better, let him lie in his crib once again. However, do not use a pillow for a baby.
- Use a damp towel to your baby’s face as close to the ear as possible.
- A warm compress can be applied to the baby’s ears.
With so many natural home remedies to ease your baby of pain arising from ear infections and aches, you can now use them confidently.