Tommee Tipps

Keeping your baby's ears clear and clean is an important part of their bathing routine. Learn how to do it safely and how often to clean them out here.

How to Clean a Baby’s Ears

Cleaning a baby’s ears is an important step in their care routine along with baby massage, top and tailing and bathing. But many new parents wonder how to clean their tiny tot’s ears safely, and how often they need to clean them.

To help you out, let’s run through how much earwax babies have and cover some dos and don’ts to follow when cleaning a baby's ears.

Earwax and babies: What’s normal?

Earwax is nature’s way of keeping our ears clean and it's normal for babies to have earwax.

Just like adults, some babies naturally produce more earwax than others, but most little ones usually have very efficient self-cleaning ears. Their earwax gradually builds up over time, dries out and then naturally moves to the outer ear where it falls out.

A baby's earwax can be brown, yellow, or black in colour. The texture of it may be sticky and moist or dry and flaky, but it shouldn’t smell bad.

It coats the outer third of the ear canal and repels water and traps dust and germs to stop them from reaching the eardrum.

Should you clean a baby’s ears?

You should gently wipe the outer part of your baby’s ear – as well as their nose and the eye area – with a warm, damp flannel. You can do this during their regular bathtime routine to clean away any wax as it naturally makes its way out of their ear. If they seem happy and comfortable, though, there’s usually no need to clean inside of their ears or remove earwax.

Occasionally, earwax can build up in a baby's ear and cause discomfort. If you notice wax building up in your baby’s ear or see them frequently pulling at and tugging their ears, it’s best to seek medical advice from a pharmacist or doctor. They will be able to check their ears for a potential ear infection or underlying issue.

You should never insert anything into a baby's ear. Doing so could potentially push wax further into their ear canal and cause damage to their delicate skin and eardrum.

How to clean a baby’s ears: A step-by-step guide

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to clean a baby’s ears safely:

  1. First, moisten a soft flannel or a cotton ball with plain warm water. There’s no need to use soap.
  2. If you’re using a flannel, ring it out well.
  3. Wipe behind and around each ear gently.
  4. Finally, gently pat their ears to dry them.

If your little one has been prescribed ear drops by your doctor to help clean their ears and soften wax build-up, you should follow these steps:

  1. Lie your baby on their side with the affected ear facing upwards.
  2. Gently pull their lower ear lobe down and back to open the canal.
  3. Place the recommended number of drops in their ear using the pipette provided.
  4. If you can, keep the drops in your baby’s ear by gently holding them in a lying position for up to 10 minutes. After this time, roll them over so the side with the drops is facing down.
  5. Finally, let the ear drops run out of your baby’s ear onto a tissue and wipe away any excess using a tissue.

Always follow your pharmacist or doctor's instructions to know how many drops to administer and how often to administer them. If the wax in your baby's ears is very solid and ear drops don't seem to help, you might be referred to an ear, nose, and throat specialist for advice on the best treatment options.

Cleaning a baby’s ears: Do's and don’ts

DO'S DON'TS
  • Do wash around the outside and behind your baby’s ears carefully using a damp soft flannel or cotton ball.
  • Do seek medical advice if you’re concerned about your baby’s earwax.
  • Don’t use soap to clean your baby’s ears.
  • Don’t insert anything into your baby’s ear canal. This includes cotton buds, fingers, or any other objects.