How to Safely Clean Your Baby's Ears

Q: I know that I'm not supposed to put a Q-tip in a baby's ear, but how should I clean my baby's ears. And at what age should I start. My mother used a suction bulb on me. Is that acceptable?

A: There's an old saying, "never put anything into your ears smaller than your elbow."

While that is not entirely practical, Q-tips are quite risky for infants' ears. Although suction bulb syringes are effective when used properly, they can cause pain and discomfort. If the bulb is improperly squeezed and too much positive or negative pressure is exerted, the middle ear may be injured. For baby's safety, use a damp washcloth during his bath.

After wiping all the nooks and crannies of your baby's outer ear, twist the cloth's end and put just a bit of it into the ear canal. You will capture that wax, which spontaneously drains. Remember, earwax is nature's essential protective lubricant for the ear canal.
 
Lillian M. Beard, M.D, a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, is an associate clinical professor at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, D.C. She is a frequent guest expert and spokesperson on national television programs, discussing issues related to children's health. Dr. Beard practices pediatrics in Washington, D.C.

The content on these pages is provided as general information only and should not be substituted for the advice of your physician.


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