Putting aside poop and resulting soiled diapers, of course, babies are not high maintenance when it comes to hygiene. We give them their bath, cut their nails, and...clean their ears, right? As it turns out, pediatricians strongly advise against using cotton buds in our baby's ear, at least the way we've been using them on our own.
What earwax is for Earwax (or cerumen) is purposely made by the body for a reason. Glands in the ear canal produce them to prevent dust and dirt--that may injure or irritate the eardrum--from entering the inner ear. It also acts a waterproof lining for the ear canal, keeping it dry and preventing germs from causing infection. The danger of cotton buds in your baby's ear The body makes just as much earwax as it needs, and it’s not the same for everybody. Some babies (and grownups) produce less, some produce more. Sometimes, one ear can even have more wax than the other. Too much wax build up is actually quite rare in babies.
Typically, ears don’t need to be cleaned from earwax either. Tiny microscopic, hairlike structures called cilia slowly carry the earwax out of the ear canal and, with regular bathing, the earwax is washed away.
So, the ears have a good system going on for itself and there’s actually no need for parents to help clean out baby’s ears. In fact, attempting to clean them out with cotton buds can actually cause earwax build up, David L. Hill, pediatrician and author of Dad To Dad: Parenting Like A Pro, told Parents. With cotton buds, the earwax can be pushed back inside the ear, creating a blockage which can cause infection.
The ear canal is also very delicate and the eardrum even more so. Poking inside the ear can damage them. Worse, rupturing the eardrum can lead to permanent hearing loss to your baby. How to clean your baby’s ear The proper way to clean your baby’s ears is to simply leave the canal alone. Keeping the outer ear clean is enough by wiping it gently using a wet washcloth. However, if you think that your baby has wax buildup in his inner ear, have his doctor take a look during a routine checkup.
“As long as the pediatrician can see through the wax and visualize the eardrum, it is still ok,” says Dyan Hes, M.D., medical director of Gramercy Pediatrics in the US. “If the earwax is blocking the entire canal, then it is a problem,” he adds. If this is the case, the doctor can either use a surgical tool called a curette to scrape out the wax or flush it away with warm liquid.
When to worry Signs of a problem include: changes in your child’s hearing, pain, fever and blood or puss oozing out of your baby’s ear. These may be an indication of an ear infection. You will first notice this when your baby irritably scratches or tugs at his ears. Consult a doctor for any concerns about your child’s hearing and ears.