Look at all that gunk! We’ll take you through when and how to clean baby ears — and when wax might be a sign of an ear infection.
Babies’ faces can be surprisingly grimy.
Goopy eyes, runny noses, and waxy ears — there’s a lot of gunk for you to deal with.
In particular, the issue of how to clean baby ears can be quite confusing, even for experienced parents.
If you’ve got questions about cleaning baby’s ears, you’ve come to the right place.
We’ll let you know why your baby’s ears are so waxy and what you can do about it.
In this article: 📝
- Why does my baby have waxy ears?
- Should I clean wax out of baby’s ears?
- How to clean newborn ears
- How to clean inside baby ears
- Is it an ear infection?
Why does my baby have waxy ears?
The first thing you need to know about cleaning baby’s ears is that you probably don’t have to.
Just like in adults, ear wax actually serves an important purpose for your little one.
Though the wax might look gross, it provides a very helpful barrier to keep bacteria, dust, and other contaminants out of your baby’s ear canal.
It also helps protect your baby’s delicate inner ear skin from getting dried out and irritated.
In medical speak, this wax is an oil called “cerumen” that is secreted by glands in our ears.
The wax can be any color, from white to yellow to orange or even brown.
In babies, the wax is usually lighter colored and softer than in adults.
Should I clean wax out of baby’s ears?
Because earwax is natural and beneficial, you don’t have to clean it out.
That said, if things are looking very waxy in there, you may want to help clear the way a bit.
Let’s talk about how you can get some of that wax off.
How to clean newborn ears
First off, step away from the q-tips, mama!
The best way to clean your baby’s ears is with a warm washcloth.
Gently wipe it around the outside of your baby’s ear.
A good time to do this is during bath time, to further soften the wax.
Never put anything — including q-tips or your fingernail — inside your baby’s ear canal.
This can actually push the wax in further and lead to issues like build-up and even an ear infection.
How to clean inside baby ears
There might be certain situations where your doctor has told you that your baby needs ear drops to get at the wax inside the ear canal.
This may be because of an earwax blockage or an ear infection.
If you’ve been given prescription drops, use them as directed by your doctor or the pharmacist.
If you get the go-ahead from your doctor, you can also make a solution in a little dropper bottle of half hydrogen peroxide and half water.
Lay your baby on their side and gently place one to three drops (or however many your doctor has recommended) into your baby’s ear, keeping the dropper outside their ear canal.
If you can, have your baby lie still on their side for five to ten minutes to let the drops sink in.
Is it an ear infection?
Ah, ear infections — the bane of many parents’ existence.
So how do you know if your child’s earwax is a sign of an ear infection? We’ll take you through it.
Call your doctor if their earwax is:
- A different color than normal, especially if it’s green or has traces of blood.
- Draining more than usual
- Increasing a lot
- Looking more liquidy
Other ear infection symptoms include:
- Tugging on the ears
- Trouble sleeping
For an ear infection, your doctor might suggest treatment such as pain relief (often Tylenol or Motrin), antibiotic drops, or oral antibiotics.
It’s becoming more common that, rather than prescribing antibiotics right away for an ear infection, your doctor might ask you to monitor the ear for two to three days to see if the infection goes away on its own.
It’s also possible that your child could have a build-up of earwax that is causing pain and trouble hearing, even if it isn’t infected.
If it looks like your child’s ear is plugged with a lot of wax, there’s no harm in calling your doctor to have them check it out.
Keeping these babies clean and healthy is no joke.
If you want to swap tips (but not q-tips… that would be gross…) with other mamas, head over to the Peanut community.
Good luck, mama!