How to Care for Your Baby’s Ears

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Most people often say that caring for babies is a full-time job. And while it may not be a job in the traditional sense, it can definitely feel like one.

There are so many things to remember when taking care of a baby, from making sure they’re fed and clothed to keeping them clean, safe, and healthy. It can be overwhelming and challenging at times, but it’s also incredibly rewarding.

Nothing can replace the joy that a new baby can bring to a family.  But together with that joy comes the demands and challenges of caring for a newborn as well. Newborns come with their own unique set of challenges, from diaper rashes and nail cutting to excessive crying, and feeding.

One of the most common challenges that parents face is dealing with earwax in babies. Since a baby’s skin is very delicate, the ear canal is especially sensitive, too. It can be tough to know how to keep your babies clean, but with some help and general tips, you can definitely do it.

In this article, we’ll help you try to understand what earwax is, what causes it, and we’ll share a couple of  tips on how to clean your baby’s ears. So let’s get started!

What is earwax actually?

What causes earwax buildup in babies?

Earwax is a waxy substance that is produced by the body.

Babies are born with a certain amount of earwax in their ears. Earwax is a natural substance that helps protect their ear canal and inner ear from bacteria, fungus, and other debris.

Over time, the wax will slowly migrate out of the ear canal and be naturally replaced by new wax.

Baby earwax is different from the earwax that adults produce. It is softer and less likely to build up in the ear canal.

However, it can still happen, particularly if the baby’s ear is exposed to water or chemicals that can irritate the skin. When earwax does build up, it can cause pain and block the baby’s hearing. In severe cases, it can even lead to an infection.

What causes earwax buildup in babies?

Most people are familiar with earwax – that waxy, yellowish substance that can sometimes build up in the ear canal.

While earwax is generally not harmful, it can become a problem if it starts to build up excessively. This can happen for several reasons, but here are the most common causes of earwax buildup:

  • The baby’s skin is still developing and is more prone to producing earwax.
  • The baby is exposed to water or chemicals that can irritate the skin.
  • The baby has a cold or other illness that causes them to produce more mucus.
  • The earwax is removed too aggressively, either by the baby themselves or by a caregiver.
  • There is an obstruction in the ear canal, such as a foreign object or excessive wax buildup.

How often do you need to clean your baby’s ears?

How to clean a baby's ears?

It’s important to keep your baby’s ears clean, but you don’t need to do it every day.

The ear has a self-cleaning mechanism that helps to keep the ear canal clear. Earwax is produced by the ear to trap dust and dirt particles and prevent them from reaching the inner ear.

This wax then slowly moves out of the ear, taking the dirt with it. In most cases, there’s no need to do anything to help this process along.

However, if you notice that your baby has excessive earwax, or if the wax is blocking their ear canal, you may need to clean their ears. 

How to clean a baby’s ears?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best way to clean a baby’s ears will vary depending on the child’s age and individual needs.

Here are some general tips on how to clean your baby’s ears.

  1. Gently tilt your baby’s head to the side
  2. Clean gently with a clean cloth
  3. Disinfect by rubbing a cotton ball soaked in hydrogen peroxide against the ear canal and outer surface of the ear lobe. Do not use alcohol.
  4. Avoid cleaning too far into your baby’s ear canal, which can cause injury.
  5. Dry out ears with a blow dryer on a cool setting after each cleaning if needed.

To make it easier for you, there are two methods that you can use in cleaning your baby’s ears : washcloth and ear drops method.

Just a reminder, whatever method you will choose,  if you do have access to professional advice, do consult with your pediatrician before cleaning your baby’s ears.

They will be able to advise you on the best way to proceed, depending on your child’s age and health history.

As a common thread across the two methods, be gentle when cleaning your baby’s ears. You don’t need to use a lot of pressure – in fact, too much pressure can damage the delicate skin inside the ear canal.

Cleaning your baby’s ears with a washcloth

You may use this method if there’s just a light buildup of earwax in your babies. Here are the basic ways how to do it.

  • Prepare a bowl with warm water, a washcloth, and some cotton balls.
  • Dip a cloth in warm water and ring out excess water.
  • Gently wipe the outer surface of the ear canal, taking care not to insert the cloth too far into the ear.

Cleaning your baby’s ears with ear drops

Cleaning your baby’s ears with ear drops

For more serious build-ups, some doctors may recommend using a diluted hydrogen peroxide solution to clean the baby’s ears.

The peroxide will help to break down the wax and make it easier to remove. However, it is important to use caution when using this type of solution, as it can also be irritating to the skin.

Here are some of the steps to take when cleaning your baby’s ear via ear drops.

  1. Place your baby on their side, with the afflicted ear facing up.
  2. With your fingers, gently and lightly pull down and back on the lower lobe to open up the baby’s ear canal.
  3. Very gently drop in 5 drops of the solution (or the amount your pediatrician recommended).
  4. Keep the droplets in your baby’s ear by keeping him or her in a flat position for up to 10 minutes before rolling them over so that the side with the drops is down.
  5. Patiently wait and let the wax/solution run out of your baby’s ear and onto a tissue.

In some cases, pediatricians may recommend using a gentle cleansing solution to help remove excess earwax from the baby’s ears.

However, it’s important to avoid using cotton swabs or other devices that could potentially damage the delicate skin inside the ear canal.

With patience, these methods should work without too much difficulty but remember: always use caution when using peroxide-based solutions on children under five years old due to its potential irritation of skin cells.

If you are not able to clean your baby’s ears with a washcloth or ear drops, it may be time to consult with your pediatrician. They will most likely recommend the best solution for your individual needs and answer any questions about how to proceed.

If you notice that there is an issue after cleaning their ears, do seek professional help immediately as this could lead to infection if left untreated.

Safety tips on cleaning your baby’s ears

  • Avoid sticking anything inside your baby’s ear. Be it the washcloth or a cotton ball as it may cause damage due to the sensitivity of the baby’s ears. Cotton swabs are examples of what not to use as these may rupture the baby’s eardrum if done incorrectly.
  • Avoid using your fingers to clear out the earwax.
  • Make sure your hands are CLEAN. Your fingers have oils on them that may introduce foreign objects into the ear and cause an infection.
  • Be patient when cleaning your baby’s ears – it may take more than one try to get all the wax out. And if your baby seems resistant to having their ears cleaned, stop and consult with your pediatrician about other methods.

When to seek professional help

When to consult Pediatrician

These are some common signs that your baby’s earwax issue is developing into a bigger problem, and you might need to consult your Pediatrician when one of these happens:

  • The wax is causing your baby pain.
  • Your baby has discharge coming from their ears.
  • The ear canal is red and inflamed.
  • There is a not-so-good smell coming from the ears.
  • The baby is tugging on the ear indicating pain or discomfort.
  • If your baby is in pain or has a fever after you clean their ears, seek medical attention as this may be a sign of infection.

If you notice any of these signs, it is important to seek professional help from your Pediatrician as soon as possible. They will be able to diagnose the issue and provide the appropriate treatment for your child’s individual needs.

Conclusion

Earwax is a natural secretion from the ear that helps to protect it from bacteria, fungus, and insects.

While many parents are concerned about their baby’s earwax, it is generally nothing to worry about. In fact, there are a few things you can do to help keep your baby’s ears clean, which we just shared above.

We hope that the tips we shared here are helpful in keeping your babies clean and free of infection.

Do you have any questions or concerns about your baby’s earwax? Let us know, we’ll be glad to help in whatever way we can.

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