How to Clean a Babys Ears

Mothers of newborns have many questions about taking care of the newest member of their family.  They often questions whether they are doing the right thing, even mothers who have already watched older children grow before their eyes.  One of the things new mothers may wonder about is the best way to clean their baby’s ear.  It is a question that is not always answered is parenting classes or books, but it is one that is still important to know the answer to.

The good news is that ears are self-cleaning.  In most healthy babies, ear wax will not build up, but instead will dry up and fall out of the ear on its own, unnoticed by the child and his or her parents.  However, all babies are different and some babies’ ears might produce more wax than others.  Even for these babies, normal bathing should keep the baby’s ears clean.   

A simple ear-cleaning method to incorporate into your baby’s bath time routine is using a damp washcloth to gently rub the outside of the baby’s ear.  This method is deemed the safest and most recommended by pediatricians.  No soap is needed, as the damp washcloth will remove any outer earwax.  Since the washcloth is flexible, it is okay to slightly twist the end of it, and clean inside the ear a short way.

There are several other methods that people use to clean their baby’s ears, but there are problems associated with each one.  Some people trickle warm water or olive oil into the ear to loosen the wax, so it will come out more easily on its own.  Although these methods might work, after trickling the liquid into the baby’s ear, the baby must immediately be turned on its side until all the liquid drains out of the ear.  However, keeping a baby still is not an easy task, and if any water remains in the ear canal, it could lead to a very painful swimmer’s ear.

Along with the liquid method, other common ways people remove ear wax in their baby’s ears are Q-tips, olive oil, ear candles, or over the counter ear syringes, but all of these could also lead to ear damage.  Nothing should ever be inserted into the ear canal, as too much pressure on the ear drum could cause permanent damage.  It is also possible to push the wax further into the ear canal with foreign objects, worsening any problems the baby might be experiencing.  If you are unsure about a certain method, it is always best to ask your pediatrician before trying it.

If you do notice a build-up of wax in your baby’s ears, it is best to call the doctor.  This could be a sign of an ear infection, which could lead to lasting ear damage if not taken care of.  Even if it is just a simple buildup of earwax, the doctor will be able to safely eliminate it by flushing it with warm liquid and loosening the wax, which will then fall out on its own.  The doctor will also be able to eliminate more stubborn wax by scraping it with a plastic instrument that causes no pain to your baby. 

Although ear wax typically takes care of itself, it is important to keep an eye on your baby’s ears and take the proper care if any does start building up.  Too much ear wax can cause problems with hearing, and might lead to more serious and permanent ear damage.