As a parent, you know your baby may start crying for thousands of reasons. They could be hungry, uncomfortable, tired, lonely, or in pain. Deciphering the exact purpose of your baby’s tears can be hard. When your baby is crying, all you can think about is how to comfort them and solve whatever issue is causing them pain or sadness.
A common issue that can be tricky to identify in infants is an ear infection. Babies can’t sit up and tell you, “My ear hurts,” so they cry and give other signals you can watch for. Children between six months old and two years old are more susceptible to developing ear infections than older children or adults. Babies have underdeveloped immune systems, and they’re still growing rapidly. These facts lead to more ear infections, typically in the middle ear. Check out the main signs and symptoms of an ear infection in a baby so that you can watch for them in your child.
Tugging at their ear
A telltale sign your infant is struggling with an ear infection is when they tug at their ears. When part of a baby’s body hurts, their natural response is to touch it. Babies may cry and hit or grab their ears when they’re suffering from ear infections. This can indicate an issue to parents.
Decrease in appetite
If your baby isn’t eating as much food as they typically do and the pattern continues for a day or two, one possible reason for this is an ear infection. Ear infections can cause discomfort in your child and change the way in which they swallow because of the changes in head pressure. This can cause an aversion to food for your baby.
Unresponsiveness or trouble hearing
Even if your child isn’t talking yet, you may still have a sense of their hearing abilities. If your child is less responsive or seems to be struggling to notice noises that would typically interest them, have a doctor check their ears—these could be signs of an ear infection.
Whenever your baby develops a fever, you should have a pediatrician check them out. A fever is a sign of many conditions, including an ear infection. Fevers may also cause your baby to sleep less often and less restfully, to become more irritable, and to cry more often.
How to prevent ear infections in baby
There’s no definite way to keep an ear infection at bay, but you can try some methods to lower your baby’s risk of developing one.
- Keep your child away from sick people. Illnesses can trigger ear infections in small children.
- Prevent the spread of germs. Wash your hands regularly, and make sure the people who handle your baby are also in good health and practice good hygiene.
- Avoid putting your child down with a bottle. Babies can’t hold their bottles at the correct angle, which can cause the milk to drain into their ears and lead to ear infections.
- Clean out your baby’s ears. Using an ear wax removal kit for babies can keep your child’s ears clean and clear, and it may help prevent infection.