What to do about ear pain

Since our littlest ones often can’t tell us what exactly is bothering them, we have to keep a close eye out for any symptoms that could give us clues.  Rubbing or tugging at ears is a common way that kiddos show us their ears are bothering them.  Want to get a quick guide on other symptoms that your little one might show you and what you can do about it?  Check out the Sick Kiddo Boot Camp.  You will be a pro at handling all of the things your sick kiddo might throw at you!

Ear pain can be tricky because it can be related to an infection…..or not!  Did you know that many kiddos will show signs of an ear infection (like rubbing or tugging their ears) when they are teething??

In many cases, ear infections resolve on their own with some watchful waiting.  Mamas often think that antibiotics are always important to resolve an ear infection, but newer research is coming out saying that most ear infections will actually resolve on their own. (Harvard Health Publishing – Treating ear infections in children)


When your little one is showing signs of ear pain (fussiness or rubbing their ears) here are some things to consider:

  • Is your kiddo less than 6 months old or have they had ear infections in the past?
  • Does your little one have other symptoms like a fever, runny nose, or cough?
  • Did the pain come on suddenly and severely?
  • Have they been rubbing their ears or complaining about ear pain for more than a few days?
  • Do you see any drainage coming out of your child’s ears?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, it’s worth giving your pediatrician a call to see if they can look at your child’s ear.  If you answered NO to all of the questions, here are some tips to make your little one more comfortable:

  • Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be given for pain or discomfort. Make sure you know the appropriate dose based on your child’s weight.
  • Try to determine if something else might be bothering your child, like teething or congestion.
  • Use a warm compress on the ear that hurts. Make sure it isn’t too hot since it will be very close to your child’s face.

Always keep in mind that this guidance is for kiddos who do NOT have a history of ear infections or other chronic medical conditions. If you are concerned, have a conversation with your doctor.  And more than anything, trust that mama instinct!

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