Hearing Loss: Warning Signs


How to Safely Clean a Baby’s Ears

Tuesday, October 03 2017
How to Safely Clean a Baby’s Ears

Just like adults, baby ears produce cerumen (earwax). That is why you should make sure to clean the outer ear on occasion for aesthetic reasons. But how can you do it safely? Here are a few tips to clean out earwax in infants.

Protect the eardrum

The ear canal of babies and infants is much shorter than in adults. Therefore, you should never use cotton swabs (i.e. Q-tips). These tools are dangerous for various reasons: they tend to push the earwax in, rather than bring it out (which could create blockages) and could even pierce your baby’s eardrum. Do not use adult-sized cotton swabs and never let your baby play with them.

Clean out the earwax after bath time

The heat and bathwater will soften the earwax, which makes it much easier to remove from your baby’s ear.

After a nice warm bath, your baby will often also be relaxed. You can position his or her head to the side (without force; maybe use a toy to focus his or her attention away from you, exposing the ear) then clean out the ears one by one. You can use baby-sized cotton swabs or sterile pads rolled between your fingers.

Clean gently

Once your baby is calm and well positioned, clean the outer ear with a pad. If the pad seems dirty after this initial cleaning, throw it out and use another. Then, clean the back of the ear: milk sometimes finds its way back there during breastfeeding or bottle feeding.

Proceed this way for the other ear as well. There is no need to clean out the ear canal, because it is "self-cleaning". Keep in mind that earwax is clean and healthy. It does not contain bacteria and in fact protects your child’s ear canal from ear infections.

What should I do if there is too much earwax in my baby’s ears?

If you notice that your baby’s ear canal is full of earwax, you can try to pour one or two drops of a lukewarm saline solution into the ear canal. Then, massage the area behind the ear and very gently pull on the lobe. In the hours that follow, the earwax should come back out on its own. If this does not work and your baby’s ears continue to produce a lot of earwax, be sure to consult with a specialist.

A note on infant hygiene

Hygiene in babies is important. The nose, the eyes and the mouth, just like the ears, must also remain clean and healthy. A saline solution is generally sufficient to clean out a baby’s nose and eyes. The mouth, for its part, needs only to be observed in order to ensure that there is no fungus growth.

As much as possible, avoid synthetic products. Select natural products instead for your baby’s hygiene. For instance, there should be no reason to use wet wipes to clean your baby’s backside when you’re home: a glove and a bit of natural pH-neutral soap should be more than enough.

Not only is this solution more eco-friendly, it also ensures you won’t be applying various superfluous products to your baby’s skin. The same goes for ear cleaning: lukewarm water and saline solutions will be more than enough to eliminate excess earwax.


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