Keeping your baby healthy is a full-time, taxing job. Some maladies, such as ear infections, seem to crop up in babies all the time. But what causes a baby ear infection anyway, and how can you help prevent these persistent infections from hurting your little one?
To start, an ear infection is an inflammation that occurs in the middle ear, as noted by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. It's often a painful condition, but if your child is too young to express pain in words, there are plenty of signs you should get your kid's ears checked. Additionally, if it feels like your baby gets an ear infection every other week, you're not alone. Around half of babies have an ear infection by their first birthday, according to Baby Center. It's an all-too-common malady.
There are many reasons your kid might get an ear infection. First, your kid's anatomy may affect the possibility of ear infections. According to Parents, kids have smaller Eustachian tubes in their ears, which makes it more difficult for fluid to drain. When these Eustachian tubes get blocked from allergies, sinus infections, or a common cold, then the damp area becomes a germ party, as noted in WebMD. Bacteria, or viruses from a cold or flu, then work to inflame and infect this sensitive part of the ear, as further explained by WebMD.
Fortunately, there are many steps parents can take to help prevent ear infections in their children. According to Parenting, making sure your kid gets plenty of fluids, limiting pacifiers, and washing hands often can help keep your kid's inner ears safe and free from infection. Also, preventing your baby from laying down with a bottle can help keep fluid from pooling in the Eustachian tubes, as further noted in Parenting.
If your baby seems to get ear infections despite your best efforts, then remember that there will be an end in sight. Once your child is about 5 years old or older, the Eustachian tubes will no longer be so short and prone to infection, according to Caring for Kids. Until then, hopefully you and your little one won't have to suffer through too many ear problems.