One of the major things new moms worry about is how often they can clean their baby’s ears. After having been warned about the potential to rupture the eardrum if anything is inserted into the ear, they want to know if there is any safe way to remove ear wax from an infant.
Actually, there are some things which can be safely done but be careful what advice you listen to because some things you read aren’t always in baby’s best interest. If it doesn’t sound safe, it probably isn’t so check with your pediatrician before trying any home remedies that have the potential to damage your child’s hearing.
Baby Ear Wax
We have all dealt with ear wax in the past, but something that many of us don’t realize is that cerumen (ear wax) doesn’t usually build up in an infant’s ear. Cerumen is actually a mixture of viscous secretions from the sebaceous glands and non-viscous secretions from the sweat glands.
Babies don’t usually have an overabundance of these secretions so if you notice a buildup of ear wax it might be wise to contact your pediatrician and take the baby in for a checkup. Also, if there is an inordinate amount of yellowish waxy matter that is visible and the baby appears to be in discomfort, take your child to the doctor right away.
It could be an ear infection and not ear wax at all. Ear infections, if left untreated, are not only painful but can cause scarring and lasting damage to the eardrum.
Safest Method for Cleaning Baby’s Ears
The method most recommended by pediatricians is to take a warm, damp wash cloth and gently clean baby’s outer ear. It is ok to twist the end a bit to clean a short way into the ear canal, but never, ever stick anything into the baby’s ear.
Some doctors say that trickling a bit of warm water into the baby’s ear is ok if you immediately turn the baby to that side to let the water drain thoroughly back out of the ear. One of the problems with this is that if the water is allowed to stay in the ear canal the baby could get what amounts to swimmer’s ear which can be quite painful, to say the least.
Home Remedies for Cleaning Babies Ears
People from the old country, Italy and Greece most predominantly, believed that you could safely place a few drops of warm olive oil into the baby’s ear to soften up the ear wax. While there are still great numbers of adults who subscribe to this treatment, it is never safe to put any foreign substance into the baby’s ear unless prescribed by the child’s pediatrician.
The same thing goes for ear candles and other homeopathic remedies for the removal of ear wax. These may or may not be safe for adults, but they certainly are not safe for babies. Also, there are ear syringes sold OTC in most pharmacies that some parents like to use when cleaning their children’s ears.
This may not be a good suggestion as there are times when too much pressure, albeit water, can damage an infant’s delicate ear drums.
How Often to Clean Baby’s Ears
Normal bathing should keep the baby’s ears plenty clean if you utilize the safe method of gently cleaning the outer ear as described with a wash cloth. However, if you notice an inordinate buildup of wax that is recurring, it is probably wise to take baby to the doctor to have his or her ears cleaned by a trained professional.
While most babies don’t have a buildup, routine cleanings when baby is in for checkups can be a good thing. Talk to your doctor to see if this is something that could be accomplished during office visits for shots and routine examinations at predetermined times.
There is no set timeframe for when babies should have their ears cleaned like adults. While it is suggested that adults have their ears cleaned annually, this is not the case for babies. A visual inspection of the ear will be a good indicator if there is a need to see baby’s doctor for a cleaning.
Always be on guard to practice safe hygiene for your baby. This includes cleaning baby ear wax. Unfortunately, you will find Q-tips on the shelves in the baby aisle of almost every store on the planet, but they should never be inserted into the baby’s ear! It might be ok to gently cleanse around the upper ear in the tiny folds where dirt and grime collect, but never clean the ear canal on a baby (or yourself for that matter!) with a Q-tip.
And when in doubt, contact your pediatrician. It is always advisable to talk to a qualified medical professional before using any new methods or techniques on a baby. One rupture could cause irreparable damage, so always follow medical advice.
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