Why does your baby keep touching his ears?

For most new parents, a baby scratching or tugging at the ear may seem like a sign that something is wrong. However, this is not always the case.

Understanding what usually causes babies to scratch or pull their ears can help.

Your child has just discovered that he or she has ears

Babies are always exploring everything around them. This includes their own bodies. When they eventually discover hands and fingers and begin to understand that they can control them, they may also end up discovering ears on the sides of their heads by accident. When this happens, they will constantly try to feel them again and touch them repeatedly.

A lot of earwax has accumulated inside the ear

Earwax production is a natural process that begins early in life. Throughout this phase, parents try to clean out the earwax using cotton buds or other unorthodox techniques. As these are considerably larger than the canal, rather than removing the wax, they end up pushing it deeper inside. This causes an itching sensation.

Baby’s teeth are growing

There is a link between teething and the rubbing of an infant’s ears. The ears, nose and throat are interconnected. This is why any irritation on one side ends up causing sensations on the other, or even affecting it.

When the first teeth come in, this starts to irritate the gums and the whole mouth area. This can lead to slight pain in the ears, which your baby may try to relieve by scratching or pulling on his ears. They may also be accompanied by excessive drooling, the need to chew on various objects or even a slight fever.

Presence of an infection

Illness or infection is one of the most common reasons why a child may be itchy. Catching a cold can lead to an ear infection in a number of ways, which is usually called otitis media. This is where the infection affects the tube, connecting the ear to the nasal cavity.

When infected, the tube swells considerably. Because of the swelling, the mucus that needs to be eliminated in the first place will not find a way out and will remain trapped in the tube, further infecting it with bacteria and other microbes.

In a normal state, the tube can easily evacuate fluids from the ear. But not in this case, which mainly affects babies who do not have a fully mature immune system or who suffer from a weak immune system due to birth-related problems.

In this case, an appointment with a doctor or paediatrician will enable appropriate treatment to be put in place.

Your child suffers from swimmer’s ear

Similar to otitis media, which affects the inner part of the ear, this condition is called otitis externa, affecting the external auditory canal. If any kind of moisture, from a bath or even a damp cotton bud, comes into contact with the lining of the external canal, it can irritate it considerably. This can lead to your baby constantly pulling on his ear.

Your baby’s ears are fragile, so it’s important to look after them from the very first days of life. As we’ve just seen, baby pulling on his ears is not always a sign of a problem. However, if this behaviour is accompanied by a fever, it is essential to contact your doctor.

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