How to Clean Babys Ears

Ear wax, or cerumen as it is known in the medical profession, is something that all know about and, in spite of the annoyance that it may cause from time to time, it is actually one of the many benefits that Mother Nature provides.

The sticky, yellowish-orange substance is formed in glands that line the ear canal for the purpose of protecting the ear’s sensitive lining from invasions of water, dirt and other foreign objects which may enter into the ear, as well as fighting any infection that might accompany any such invasion.

Sometimes, however, the wax can become too much and the resulting blockage can cause a lot pain and irritation, as well as interfering with hearing. Clearly, then, monitoring ear wax in the ears of babies is very important.

Excessive wax in ears can be indicated by changes in a baby’s ear color and habits. Increased crankiness and fiddling with the ears may be signs of discomfort associated with inner irritation of the ears; excessive wax in the ears may also be indicated by baby showing decreased signs of hearing.

If, in truth, the discomfort is as a result of the build-up of ear wax, then baby’s ear may need to be cleaned.  It ought to be kept in mind that the irritation that baby shows may not be the result of ear wax, per se, but rather due to an infection which is clearly the province of baby’s doctor. If the buildup of wax in baby’s ear prevents the doctor from seeing down to the eardrum, he/she is best able to remove the wax in as safe a manner as possible, e.g. by using a light and a tiny earwax scoop or by using an ear microscope, a scoop and/or a small suction device.

Having said that, it may be necessary to clean out baby’s ears by yourself. Cleaning baby’s ear requires  a great deal of care; damage can easily be done  to the ear if care is not taken.  Q-tips and other similar products may safely be used for cleaning the outer ear, but when it comes to cleaning wax out of the inner ear, they are a no-no as they can cause severe injuries (punctures, ruptures and the like) to the eardrum or cause the wax to be pushed even further into the ear canal thereby worsening the problem. Likewise, fingers ought not to be used when the intention is to clean baby’s inner ears. Suction bulbs, also, should be avoided; they can cause a lot of pain and discomfort and, if used improperly, the sucking action can cause damage to the middle ear.

If one chooses to clean out baby’s ears,  there are some safe cleaning techniques that can be used. One way is to use a damp cloth and baby’s bath time is a good time to do this. When baby is being bathed, the earwax tends to soften and drain out of his/her ears. As the wax drains, use a warm cloth to carefully clean the exterior parts of the ears and dab away any draining wax. The cloth should not be inserted deep into baby’s ears.

If the wax that has accumulated in baby’s ears has hardened up to a point, a warm bath may be insufficient to soften it and allow it to drain out; it may need to be softened or broken up in some other way so that it can flow out freely. There are certain over the counter ear drops that can be used to achieve this end, though it should be kept in mind that some of these preparations may be so oily that they do not penetrate as deeply as is required into the ear. A home mixture of hydrogen peroxide and wate can also be used.

Bath water should not be used as a substitute ear flush. When using drops or flushes, the intent is to allow the preparation to penetrate deeply into the ear. A bit of patience is recommended so that the wax can soften properly then, allowing the drops/flush to flow out, should drain out the wax. The process may be repeated a few times so as to ensure that all the hardened wax has been removed. If the hardened wax fails to drain, then see a doctor.

On a final note, it should be remembered that babies learn by imitation. Consequently certain habits, e.g. inserting things into the ear should be avoided so that baby does not grow up imitating such habits and, if one has any misgivings, baby’s doctor should be consulted without hesitation.

The hydrogen peroxide (3% or lower) should be mixed with the water in equal parts. Other solutions that can safely be used as ear flushes include saline water (half a teaspoon of salt and half a cup of warm water); equal parts of white vinegar and rubbing alcohol; and baby oil or mineral oil.

Follow the instructions that come with the drops.