Between 6 months old (right after a 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 the internet.
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
A 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 mucous fluid doesn’t go into the inner ear.
3. Breastfeed or bottle feed your baby in an 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 grow in length and become vertical. When they swallow in a 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.
In order to prevent the fluid get into the middle ear and get trapped, it is best to breastfeed or bottle-feed 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. Never give your baby the bottle to feed while they are lying flat on their back.
If your baby already got an ear infection, keep breastfeeding or bottle feeding them in an 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 the middle ear but also help the baby get a better night’s sleep with a 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 getting 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 an 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 providers. For any medical issues, please consult your doctor or pediatrician first.