It’s important to keep your baby’s ears clean. You can clean the outer ear and the skin around it while you bathe your baby. All you’ll need is a washcloth or cotton ball and some warm water.
It’s not safe to use cotton swabs or to stick anything inside your baby’s ear. If you notice earwax inside the ear, you don’t need to remove it.
Earwax is healthy for your baby because it’s protecting, lubricating, and has antibacterial propertires. Removing it can cause potentially harmful damage.
Read on to learn steps for cleaning your baby’s ears, plus safety tips.
To clean your baby’s ears on a daily or regular basis, you’ll need a cotton ball that’s been soaked with warm water. You can also use a gentle washcloth with some warm (not hot) water.
To clean baby’s ears:
Wet the washcloth or cotton ball with warm water.
Ring out the washcloth well, if using.
Gently wipe behind baby’s ears and around the outside of each ear.
Never stick the washcloth or cotton ball inside your baby’s ear. This can cause damage to the ear canal.
If your baby has been prescribed eardrops or you want to use them to remove wax buildup, follow these steps.
Lie your baby on their side with the affected ear facing up.
Gently pull the lower lobe down and back to open the canal.
Place 5 drops in the ear (or the amount your pediatrician recommended).
Keep the drops in your baby’s ear by keeping baby in a lying position for up to 10 minutes, then roll them over so the side with the drops is facing down.
Let the ear drops run out of your baby’s ear onto a tissue.
Always use drops according to your pediatrician’s recommendation. Follow their instructions for how many drops to administer and how often to give them to your baby.
Cotton swabs are not safe to use on infants or young children. In fact, from 1990-2010, ear cleaning was the most common cause for a child in the United States to be omitted to the emergency room for an ear injury.
More than 260,000 children were affected. Most commonly, these injuries involve an object stuck in the ear, perforated eardrums, and soft tissue injuries.
The safest rule to keep in mind is that if you see any waxy buildup or discharge on the outside of the ear, use a warm, wet washcloth to gently wipe it away.
Leave anything inside the ear (the part you can’t see) alone. Injury to the eardrum, hearing bone, or inner ear can all cause long-term health complications for your child.
Earwax buildup in infants is rare. Usually, the ear canal makes the correct amount of earwax it needs. But in some cases, excess earwax buildup can interfere with hearing, or cause pain or discomfort. Your baby may tug on their ear to indicate discomfort.
Some causes of earwax buildup include:
Using cotton swabs. These push the wax back in and pack it down instead of removing it
Sticking fingers in the ear. If wax is pushed back by your infant’s fingers, it may build up.
Wearing ear plugs. Ear plugs can push wax back in the ear, causing buildup.
Don’t try to remove earwax buildup at home. If you’re concerned about earwax buildup, see a pediatrician. They can determine if your infant’s earwax needs to be removed.
Is earwax dangerous?
Earwax is not dangerous. It serves many important functions including:
protecting the eardrum and ear canal, keeping it dry, and preventing germs from causing infection
trapping dirt, dust, and other particles so they don’t enter the ear canal and cause irritation or injury
Let your baby’s pediatrician know if your infant is tugging at their ears. If you don’t already have a pediatrician, you can browse doctors in your area through the Healthline FindCare tool. Also let them know if you suspect a blocked ear canal is making it difficult for your baby to hear you, or if you notice any yellow-green discharge from your child’s ear.
Your doctor may remove the wax if it’s causing discomfort, pain, or interfering with hearing.
A pediatrician can usually remove the wax during a regular office appointment without requiring any further treatment. In rare cases, the wax may need to be removed under general anesthesia in the operating room.
If your pediatrician notices signs of an ear infection, they may prescribe antibiotic eardrops for your baby.
Seek medical help right away if you notice bleeding from the ear after an object was inserted in the ear canal. You should also seek medical help if your child looks or acts very sick, or their walking is unsteady.
It’s important to keep your baby’s ears clean. In most cases, you can clean the outer ear and area around the ears during your regularly scheduled bath time. You’ll just need a washcloth and warm water.
Although there are several products on the market made specifically for cleaning the inside of your baby’s ears, many of them aren’t safe. Cotton swabs also aren’t safe for your baby.
If you notice a large amount of wax buildup or are concerned about your baby’s ears, let your pediatrician know. They can determine if it needs to be removed and advise you on the best treatment.
Cleaning your baby's ears and nose
beginning of content
Keeping your baby’s head and face clean is important for their good health. That’s because baby skin is fragile and more sensitive than adult skin, so it can easily become irritated. It can take a little while to get used to cleaning their tiny ears, eyes and nose, but with practice your confidence will grow.
Do I need to clean my baby's ears, eyes and nose?
Although young babies don’t move around much, you’d be surprised at how dirty their faces can get. Just like adults, they can develop ear wax and mucus in their nose and discharge in their eyes.
Paying special attention to these parts of your baby’s body will prevent problems in future.
When should I clean my baby's ears, eyes and nose?
Your baby’s ears, eyes and nose should be wiped every day. All you need is some cotton wool and warm water. Don’t use soap because this can dry out your baby’s sensitive skin.
A good time to clean your baby's ears, eyes and nose is just before you give them a bath. Newborn babies don't need a bath every day — 2 or 3 times a week is enough — so on other days you can just wash their face and bottom. This is known as 'top and tailing'.
Some babies get upset when you wash their faces, so choose a time when they’re relaxed. It’s best not to wash their face when they’re hungry, or right after a feed. Talking or singing while you’re washing them might help to calm them down.
How do I clean my baby's ears, eyes and nose?
If you are going to give your baby a bath, fill the bath with warm water and get together everything you need first. Always make sure the water is no hotter than 37 to 38°C. If you don’t have a thermometer, use your elbow or wrist to check the water isn't too hot.
Before you undress your baby, lay them on a safe surface. Dip some cotton wool in lukewarm water. Gently clean the corners of their eyes, wiping from the inside corner to the outside corner. Use a new cotton wool ball for each eye.
Then gently wipe around each nostril to get rid of any mucus. Wipe around your baby's ears, including around the outside.
Use a soft towel to gently dry your baby's skin, making sure you also dry behind the ears.
It's very important not to stick anything into your baby's ears or nose as this can cause damage. It can cause the lining of the inside of the nose to bleed and damage the eardrum. Pushing something into your baby's ear or nose can increase the risk of infection.
When their face is clean and dry, you can undress them and give them their bath.
Should I remove my baby's earwax?
Usually there is no need to remove your baby's earwax. It has an important role in protecting their ears. It blocks germs that could cause infection from reaching the eardrum and it prevents dirt and dust from entering your baby's ear.
Ear wax usually makes its way to the outer ear naturally. You can gently wipe it away when you're cleaning their ears. Don’t ever poke a cotton swab, finger or anything else into your baby's ears.
You should also avoid using remedies to remove ear wax. This risks damaging the ear canal and can even affect your baby’s hearing.
If you think your baby's ears are causing them discomfort — for example, if they're tugging or pulling their ears a lot — then tell your doctor in case they have an ear infection.
The Royal Women’s Hospital (Caring for your newborn baby), Raising Children (Cleaning baby eyes, nose and ears), Raising Children (Bathing a newborn), The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne (Ear infections and glue ear)
Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.
Last reviewed: April 2021
Back To Top
A day in the life of a newborn
How to cut your baby's nails
Dressing a newborn
Bathing your newborn
This information is for your general information and use only and is not intended to be used as medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes.
The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.
Except as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, this publication or any part of it may not be reproduced, altered, adapted, stored and/or distributed in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Healthdirect Australia.
Support this browser is being discontinued for Pregnancy, Birth and Baby
Support for this browser is being discontinued for this site
Internet Explorer 11 and lower
We currently support Microsoft Edge, Chrome, Firefox and Safari. For more information, please visit the links below:
Chrome by Google
Firefox by Mozilla
Safari by Apple
You are welcome to continue browsing this site with this browser. Some features, tools or interaction may not work correctly.
Children's ear hygiene: truths and myths
Baby's ears need to be properly cared for. However, some parents use cotton swabs without even knowing that it is dangerous. Let's try to explain why.
MYTH: Sulfur is dirt that needs to be disposed of.
There is nothing superfluous in the human body. Earwax is a necessary and useful secretion that performs important functions:
cleans the auditory canals;
moisturizes the skin of the ear canal;
protects the ear from bacteria and fungi.
Normally, earwax is removed by itself - due to the movement of the temporal and mandibular joints during chewing or talking. Another thing, there are many reasons why the self-cleaning mechanism is not enough. For example, the narrowness and tortuosity of the ear canal and the increased viscosity of sulfur contribute to the retention of sulfur.
TRUTH: you do not need to clean your ears every day, 2 times a week is enough, and you can do this with the use of cerumenolytics, for example, A-Cerumen Plus - a product that has a softening, moisturizing and cleansing effect. It dissolves sulfur masses and facilitates their removal. The drug is available in the form of drops and spray, used from 6 months.
MYTH: The more often the better.
This myth is related to our traditional ideas about cleanliness. We are taught from childhood to take a shower every day, to brush our teeth twice a day...
Most people think that ears should be cleaned often. However, it is not.
When cleaning the ears, the sulfur glands are irritated, which leads to an increased formation of sulfur. So, it turns out that the more often and harder you clean your ears, the more sulfur will be produced, which over time can lead to the formation of sulfur plug.
TRUTH: you don't need to clean your ears every day, 2 times a week is enough, and you can do this with the use of cerumenolytics, for example, A-Cerumen Plus - a product that has a softening, moisturizing and cleansing effect. It dissolves sulfur masses and facilitates their removal. The drug is available in the form of drops and spray, used from 6 months.
MYTH: Cotton swabs, including those with stoppers, protect the hearing aid from excess wax and damage.
As a result of "cleaning" the ears with cotton swabs, including those with limiters, sulfur masses are pushed past the isthmus, to the eardrum. There is a "pressing" of sulfur, which over time can cause the formation of sulfur plugs.
According to statistics, the use of a cotton swab in the toilet of the external auditory canal leads to the development of not only external, but also fungal otitis media in 55% and 3% of cases, respectively.
In addition, a cotton swab can damage the delicate skin of the ear canal.
TRUTH: there are other, less dangerous, ways to care for the ears: special drops or sprays - cerumenolytics. For example, with A-Cerumen Plus, you can gently, conveniently and painlessly clean children's ears, doing without cotton swabs.
MYTH: The use of headphones, headsets and hearing aids is safe for the health of the ears.
We are used to using various kinds of gadgets every day, and we think that they are quite safe. Parents recklessly buy them for their children. However, according to studies, frequent and uncontrolled wearing of headphones, hearing sets, behind-the-ear / in-ear hearing aids often leads to clogging of the ear canal with sulfur masses.
TRUTH: Do not abuse the use of various types of devices that are attached to the ear canal and auricle, especially when it comes to children's ears. You should also be attentive to ear hygiene with regular visits to the pool (dry the water in the ear after water procedures).
Don't believe everything they say about ear hygiene! In difficult situations, consult a pediatrician or ENT, and let your little ones' ears be healthy!
1. M.R. Bogomilsky, E.Yu. Radzig, E.O. Vyazmenov. NEW POSSIBILITIES OF CERUMENOLISIS IN CHILDREN. \\ Pediatrics / 2008 / Volume 87 / No. 2. - S. 105-106.
As an advertisement.
How to clean the ears of a newborn baby: basic rules and recommendations
New parents ask many questions about the health and hygiene of their newborn. Among other things, they are interested in whether the baby's ears need to be cleaned, and if so, how to do it correctly.
Caring for the ears of a newborn baby requires strict adherence to the rules, because they are easy to hurt. The length of the ear canal is small and the tympanic membrane is not yet protected by its natural curvature, as in an adult. Because of these same features, inflammatory processes develop quite easily in children's ears.
Do I need to clean my baby's ears
According to experts, the child's ear should only be cleaned from the outside, and its inside should not be touched. It usually clears itself without any manipulation.
Hygiene procedures related to caring for a newborn baby always raise a huge number of questions from inexperienced mothers. And if everything is more or less clear with folds, the procedure for washing and bathing, then questions constantly arise with how to properly clean a child’s ears. How many people, so many opinions. But if you ask this question - how to clean the ears of a child - to a doctor, you will undoubtedly get the most competent and correct answer. No way. What does this mean? Let's figure it out!
How to clean the ears of a baby
In principle, we have already received the answer - no way. But what does this mean? Let the child have dirty ears? Why can't they be cleaned? After all, adults clean their ears. It turns out that the ears really do not need to be cleaned. Inside. Our ear has an absolutely unique structure, thanks to which they are self-cleaning. Inside our ear, a special secret is secreted - earwax. This is a lubricant protective material that prevents the penetration of bacteria, protects the ear from damage. The sulfur that has served its purpose is slowly pushed out into the auricle. It is pushed out due to the fact that we make chewing movements, yawn, thus helping the ear canals to push the wax out. Accordingly, sulfur enters the auricle. And that's what you and I must clean! Both adults and children should clean only the auricles and in no case the ear canal itself.
Use a cotton swab to remove wax. It is possible to use large (children's) cotton swabs, which have a limiter. Before the procedure, the cotton wool must be moistened, but so that no droplets of water stand out from it when pressed.
Hold baby's head
With a cotton pad soaked in warm water, wipe the outer part of the ear and behind the ears
Use cotton swabs with restraints or cotton swabs. Remove wax from the inside of the ear
Do not go deeper than 5 mm into the ear canal, rotate gently
Remove wax only when it is visible at the mouth of the ear canal
Clean your baby's ears about once every 3 days. In children, sulfur is formed faster than in adults, but this is a physiological norm
Do not use ordinary cotton swabs, matches, pins, etc. to clean the baby's ears
insert a stick or cotton swab deeper than 5 mm into the ear canal;
use a wet cotton swab that drips off water;
rub the skin of the ear vigorously.
Do not worry about the cleanliness of the inside of the ear, the wax comes out of it on its own when the baby sucks during feeding. Trying to clean the ear canal from the inside, you only push the sulfur deeper. Thus, you create an obstacle for self-cleansing of the ear canal.
What is wax and should it be removed?
Wax from the ear is considered a normal physiological process that helps to trap various dirt, dust, lint and even foreign objects that enter the ear. Of course, it is unpleasant both for the child and for others, sometimes it causes itching. But it still has a protective function and does not allow the eardrum to dry out. Usually, wax is not cleaned, but if it becomes solid and a plug forms in the hearing aid, then it is simply necessary to get rid of it. To do this, you need to seek help from Laura.
In addition to regular dewaxing of the ears, regular care of the child's outer ear is essential. The curls of the auricle are wiped 1-2 times a week with a moistened cotton flagellum. To do this, the child's ear is pulled back in order to be able to process all the bends, folds and curls.
Every morning while washing, wipe the skin behind the ears with a cotton ball dipped in boiled water. If diaper rash, crusts or irritation appear in this area, the skin is rubbed with vaseline oil after bathing and washing. (daily child care)
How to prevent ear diseases
When bathing, be careful not to get water in your baby's ear. If this happens, then you can attach a cotton flagellum to the external auditory canal, this will help dry it.
After feeding, place the baby in a “column” so that during regurgitation milk does not get into the Eustachian tube connecting the ear to the nasopharynx.
When walking in windy weather, the baby must wear a cap that covers the ears.
The hat must be chosen according to the weather, as when overheated behind the ears, prickly heat and diaper rash occur.
If the basic rules for caring for the ears of a newborn and preventive measures are followed, pain in the ear of the baby is not threatened.
See a doctor if...
Wax never comes out of the ear canal.
There is an unpleasant odor in the ears.
An incomprehensible liquid flows out of their ear.
Wax from the ear canal has changed color and consistency. The normal color of sulfur is yellow or brown.