How to prevent ear infection in babies and toodlers

Between 6 months old (right after flu shot) and 1 years old, my son had a chronic runny nose problem, that turned into ear infection multiple times. Those were hard times. I do not wish stuffy nose and congested upper respiratory system on any baby. Every time his nose started to run again, I tried every possible method, tip and trick to prevent it from turning into an ear infection. This is a list of all the advice, I was given by our pediatrician and nurses, and read on the reference websites on internet.

Prevent ear infections
1. Stop the runny nose 

This is mission impossible. First, identify the source. Is it allergies? Is it heating/cooling system? Is it household dust? Is it plush animals? Or is it just cold?

If it’s cold, you have to wait it out. If not, you might want to have ducts cleaned, plush animals washed or better put away, get a stronger vacuum cleaner etc.

2. Keep the nasal passages open

Runny nose starts with clear, runny fluid, then changes color and turn into either yellowish or greenish thick mucus as time passes. In order to prevent the runny nose causing ear infection, keep the nasal passages clear with ocean spray or saline solution. Even if you baby resists or cries, keep spraying those tiny nostrils. Make sure the mucus fluid doesn’t go into inner ear.

3. Breastfeed your baby in upright position

The main reason the babies have more  frequent ear infection is the fact that their Eustachian tubes are short and horizontal. As they grow, the Eustachian tubes grown in length and become vertical. When they swallow in horizontal position, the fluid in the nasal passages become more susceptible to enter the middle ear and get trapped there. Since it cannot flow out easily, as it sits, the fluid becomes infected.

Eustachian tubes adult vs child
In order to prevent the fluid get into middle ear and get trapped, it is best to breastfeed your baby in upright position. Instead of laying him on your arms  or in the bed next to you, hold his torso straight up (at least to 60 degrees) as if he is sitting.

If your baby already got ear infection, keep breastfeeding in upright position as well.

4. Elevate baby’s head of the bed/mattress

Put few hardcover books or a wedge under one side of the mattress in your babies crib to elevate the head side. This will not only help prevent fluid get into middle ear, but also help the baby get a better night’s sleep with congested nose.

5. Prevent water/external fluid get into the ear

Either use special baby bath visor or cap or earplugs during bath or pool time to prevent water get into baby’s ear. Do not use q-tips to clean babies’ ears.

6. Identify and prevent allergies

If you are suspecting the runny nose is  caused by allergies, consult your pediatrician or an allergy specialist. They might prescribe you antihistamine. Do not use antihistamine without consulting to your doctor first. They usually advise against it, unless it is for sure that the source is allergies.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor. This article explains my experience in a specific situation with my child and is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider. For any medical issues, please consult your doctor or pediatrician first.

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