Your baby may have an ear infection if he or she is fussy, cries, and more than usual tugs at their ear. Otitis media is the most common type of ear infection which is found in babies. This infection may start with a cold and it can hurt a lot. Children, who have ear infections, pull at their ears and sleep poorly. Many studies are shown that ear infections are very frequent in babies and young children [1,2]. Your doctor can prescribe antibiotics to treat ear infections. Children, who are under 6 months, are usually given antibiotics.
But, if your child is over six months and his or her symptoms are mild, then antibiotics are not needed. Your doctor can prescribe medicines to help with the fever or pain. In one study is said that approximately 5 – 10% of children who have an ear infection will experience a ruptured eardrum. The eardrum usually heals in a period of one to two weeks and in rare cases, it causes permanent damage to the child’s hearing. Earaches can be painful.
Your baby cannot tell you what hurts. But, there are some common signs which can show you that your baby has an ear infection, such as fluid draining from the ear, fever, trouble sleeping, loss of appetite, pulling or bathing at the ear, and irritability. Also, ear infections can lead to dizziness. If your baby has reached the wobbling stage, then take extra care to protect them from falls. Viruses and bacteria are the most common causes of middle ear infections . Children, who are less than 5 years old, have an increased risk for ear infections because they have shorter Eustachian tubes .
Also, children with allergies have more risk of getting ear infections . Children, who are exposed to cigarette smoke have more chances of getting ear infections because cigarette smoke is causing inflammation of the Eustachian tube, which makes ear infections more likely . Also, children who attend daycare, have more chances of having ear infections, because they tend to have more colds. Also, children who are not breastfed have more chances of getting ear infections, because breast milk has antibodies that can help to fight against infections .
Treatments for ear infections in babies:
You need to visit the doctor for the ear infection of your baby. He or she will tell you what you can do to improve their condition. If your baby has an ear infection and his or her symptoms do not improve after 3 – 4 days, then you need to talk with the doctor again. If your baby has a discharge of blood or pus from the ears, then visit the doctor as soon as possible.
If your baby is under 3 months and it has a fever higher than 38oC or if your baby is older and he or she has a temperature over 39oC, then visit the doctor as soon as possible. The key part of your child’s treatment and safety is to follow – up care. You should go to all appointments with the doctor and call your doctor or nurse if your child is having problems. Also, it is recommended to know the results from tests that your doctor has made to your doctor and keep a list of medicines that your child takes.
- Vaccinations: You need to be sure that your child’s immunizations are up–to–date, like flu shots (for children who are six months and older) and pneumococcal vaccines.
- Healthy environment: Whenever it is possible, you need to avoid exposing your baby to situations where the cold and flu bugs abound. If you or some family member is sick, then you need to wash your hands often to keep the germs away from your baby.
- Massage: You can try a gentle massage to the neck because it can help the lymph nodes to drain fluid away from the ears. You should use gentle, plant-based body oil.
- Garlic: You should crush some garlic and warm it with extra virgin olive oil. Then, let it cool to just about body temperature. Then, you need to put a few drops of this remedy in your baby’s ear. Then, you need to let this remedy stay there for 15 – 20 seconds and then tilt your baby’s head to let the liquid drain out. You should repeat this type of treatment three times per day. The extra virgin olive oil and garlic have antibacterial properties, which can help to battle the infection.
Also, the warmth can help to get relief from the pain temporarily. Also, you can buy natural garlic oil or liquid garlic capsules. You should not use this type of home remedy if the eardrum is perforated or if the ear is leaking fluid. You should check your child’s ear carefully before you try to use this type of home remedy for his or her ear infection.
- Proper bottle position: If you feed your baby with a bottle, then you need to hold your infant in a semi-upright position, so the formula does not flow back into the Eustachian tubes. Also, you need to avoid the bottle propping for the same reason. 
- Hydrogen peroxide: You can make a mixture of 50% peroxide and 50% water. Then, put a few drops in the ear and let it stay there for 15 seconds. Then, tilt your child’s head to drain the liquid out. You should repeat this type of treatment two times per day. But, if your child’s eardrum is perforated, then you should not use this treatment for his or her ear infection.
- Avoid secondhand smoke: You need to protect your baby from secondhand smoke, which can make the ear infection more severe and more frequent. 
- Breastfeeding: If it is possible, you should breastfeed your baby for 6 – 12 months. Your milk has antibodies that can protect your baby from ear infections and a host of other medical conditions. 
- Homeopathic eardrops: These eardrops have extracts of ingredients, such as St. John’s wort, lavender, mullein, and garlic in olive oil and they can help to relieve pain and inflammation.
- Warm face cloth: You can put a warm face cloth on your child’s ear, so you will get relief from the pain.
- Resting quietly: You need to try to keep your child resting quietly. When your baby is resting, then this can help his or her body to fight against the infection.
- Fluids: You need to give your child a lot of fluids because this encourages swallowing and it can help to drain the middle ear and relieve painful pressure.
- Avoid foreign objects: When you put things in your baby’s ear, such as cotton swabs, it can result in cuts and bruises in the ear canal and it can get infected.
- Elevate your baby’s head: You should slightly elevate the crib at the head to improve the sinus drainage of your baby. You should not put pillows under your baby’s head. You can use a pillow or two under the mattress. 
- Warm oil: If a ruptured eardrum is not suspected and if there is no fluid draining from your child’s ear, then put a few drops of room temperature or slightly warmed olive oil or sesame oil in the affected ear.
- Acetaminophen: If your baby is older than six months, then you can give him acetaminophen, after consulting with your doctor, because it can help you to get relief from the pain and fever. Also, follow the instructions on the pain reliever’s bottle when you are using this medication for your baby’s ear infection. To have the best results, you should try giving your child a dose before going to bed.
- Antibiotics: For many years, antibiotics are prescribed as a treatment for ear infections. But, we know that often antibiotics are not the best option. In one study done among average-risk children with ear infections, 80% recover in about 3 days without the use of antibiotics. When you use antibiotics to treat an ear infection, then it can cause the bacteria responsible for ear infections to become resistant to antibiotics. This can make it harder to treat future infections. 
One study is said that antibiotics can cause diarrhea and vomiting in approximately 15% of children who take them. Also, it is noticed that up to 5% of children prescribed antibiotics have an allergic reaction, which is a serious problem and it can be life-threatening. In most cases, doctors are recommending holding off on starting antibiotics for 48 – 72 hours, because an infection can clear on its own.
But, there are some times when antibiotics are the best source of action. Usually, doctors are recommending to give antibiotics to children age 6 months and older. Also, it is recommended to give antibiotics to children who are 6 months to 12 years and who have severe symptoms. If your doctor prescribed antibiotics for your child, then give them as directed. You should not stop using them if you have noticed that your child feels better. Your child needs to take the complete dose of antibiotics.
 National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Ear infections in children. Retrieved from www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/ear-infections-children
 Karunanayake CP, Albritton W, Rennie DC, et al. Ear infection and its associated risk factors in first nations and rural school-aged Canadian children. International Journal of Pediatrics. 2015.
 Infectious Diseases Society of America. Most ear infections host both bacteria and viruses, study shows. Science Daily. 2006. Retrieved from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061106164651.htm
 Byeon H. The association between allergic rhinitis and otitis media: A national representative sample of in South Korean children. Scientific Reports. 2019;9.
 Moreno MA, Furtner F, Rivara FP. Parental smoking and childhood ear infections: A dangerous combination. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
 Rapaport L. Vaccines, breastfeeding tied to decline in ear infections. Reuters. 2016. Retrieved from www.reuters.com/article/us-health-babies-ear-infections-idUSKCN0WU1IC
 Avital A, Donchin M, Springer C, et al. Feeding young infants with their head in upright position reduces respiratory and ear morbidity. Scientific Reports. 2018;8:6588.
 Venekamp RP, Sanders SL, Glasziou PP, et al. Antibiotics for acute otitis media in children. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2015;2015(6):CD000219.