Well, I sure wish I knew how to tell if my baby has an ear infection.
Last night was rough.
It was rough for me and even worse for my daughter.
The culprit: ear infection.
It had been weeks that she was sick, starting with a sniffly nose that progressed into a cute little baby cough. It slowly started to get worse until she ran a fever for a few days. I gave Tylenol every 8 hours around the clock, but she didn’t seem to get any better.
Then last night happened.
My daughter usually sleeps 12 hours a night, but screamed her head off well after the start of the new day.
No matter what I did, she wouldn’t stop. It broke my heart. It also made me want to bang my head against a wall by the time the sun came up.
Going to the Emergency Room was a no-brainer. We walked out with a prescription for antibiotics and within 5 hours of the first dose, my child was herself again. Other than some boogies in her nose, you wouldn’t know anything was wrong with her.
The whole experience got me thinking about what most ear infections look like. Here’s what I found:
1. The first sign is a change in their behavior.
Your sweet little baby usually takes regular naps and is smiley and joyful when one day, they turn in to a tiny Godzilla monster. They might be small, but they are fierce. Trust your mama instincts- you know your baby better than anyone. If your little bear isn’t acting like themselves, something is probably causing it.
2. They often occur after a cold.
Just like with my daughter, ear infections often start off after a cold. Little baby heads are so small that when that get stuffed up with sick germs, it’s common for them to travel to their ears. If your baby has a cold, but you feel like something more is going on- an ear infection might be the culprit.
3. Bottles might contribute to ear infections.
I’ve been giving my daughter a bottle after her first birthday. We had quite the breastfeeding journey, but at a year I decided to pack up my pump and start her on other liquids. The bottle stayed around though, and might have been part of the cause.
Bottles create a vacuum when the baby sucks. That vacuum can cause the bacteria in baby’s head (especially during a cold) to make its way into the ear canals. It’s recommended to start weaning baby off the bottle and start them on cups after their first birthday. Many mamas find it easier to transition with the help of a sippy cup in-between.
4. You might notice the following signs: baby pulling at their ear, have an upset tummy, drainage or redness in the ear, a foul smell, or a fever.
Not all babies exhibit all the signs. My daughter had a fever, diarrhea, and a change in behavior. Some babies will have all the symptoms, and some babies will have only a few. Perhaps the most common sign your baby has an ear infection is this:
5. Difficulty sleeping.
Talk about the truth. When a ear infection strikes, often babies have a difficult time sleeping. They may be near impossible to put down. Some babies go to sleep alright but can’t stay asleep. They wake up wailing soon after falling asleep. The pain prevents them from relaxing enough to sleep soundly.
Ear infections are definitely no fun. They transform perfectly wonderful children into baby monsters. Baby becomes miserable and the only thing they know to do is cry when something isn’t right. It’s always a good idea to see the pediatrician if something odd is happening with your little bear. You’re mama and you know your baby best.
Has your baby ever had an ear infection? What signs and symptoms did they have? How did you handle it? I hope this helps you determine how to tell if your baby has an ear infection! Leave comments below, I’d love to hear from fellow mamas about their ear infection experience!
Kealy is a Registered Nurse, Certified Lactation Counselor, and most importantly a mommy! Her own breastfeeding struggles gave her a passion to help moms throughout their breastfeeding journey. She offers one-on-one lactation consultations, breastfeeding classes, and shares her knowledge to equip and empower moms. If you’re interested in talking with her or taking one of her breastfeeding classes, visit www.littlebearcare.com.