Why An Earache Can Derail Your Child’s Sleep

Ear infections are no fun for both parent and child. They are unfortunately rather common as nearly five out of every six children will have one before the age of three in the U.S. according to the NIH. An earache can have many causes, which include cold and flu viruses, and bacterial infections among others. Let’s look at how an ear infection can impact your child’s sleep and what you can do to alleviate it. 

Sleep And Earaches

One of the prevalent signs of an ear infection in children under three years of age is sleep disruption. When the child is experiencing discomfort or even a fever due to an ear infection, their sleep patterns can be left in disarray. While suffering from an ear infection, your child may take longer to go to sleep or wish to sleep in a different position in order to get more comfortable due to ear pain. This can lead to sleep deprivation and irritability in infant and parent alike.

How To Prevent Earaches In Infants?

For the most part, it is impossible to ensure that your child will never get an ear infection, however, there are steps you can take in order to decrease your chances. Here are some things to consider:

  • Avoid smoking tobacco or cannabis products around your child. Smoke exposure can lead to ear infections among other possible health complications.
  • Make sure your baby is being fed at an upright angle and is getting all of their milk down without it flowing back into their nasal and ear passages. 
  • Breastfeeding can help build the immune system in order to help prevent or better fight the infections that cause earaches.
  • Keep your child away from those who are sick or work around those who are sick if possible.
  • Wash your hands often and before touching your baby’s head and ears. Make sure their hands are cleaned often as well. 

How To Treat An Ear Infection In An Infant

One of the most frustrating and disheartening things about being the parent of a newborn is that there is so little that we can do at home medically to help a sick child. An ear infection can cause inner ear pain, discharge, fever, and irritability among other things. For the most part, there isn’t much to be done except for monitoring the symptoms to make sure they don’t get worse and riding out the infection until it runs its course. Here are some small things that you can do that may help, but make sure to consult your child’s doctor before doing anything:

  • Apply a warm sock to the affected ear or ears. Just put a clean sock or two in the dryer on medium or medium high for about two to five minutes. Check to make sure it is just slightly warm and not too warm to the touch. You can also use a clean wash cloth and warm water as well. Make sure to squeeze out any excess moisture. Apply for about five minutes at a time. 
  • Push fluids. Keep your baby hydrated and make sure that they are swallowing often. The swallowing motion can help break blockages in the inner ear.
  • Keep your child’s head elevated. Make sure they are safely upright as much as possible so that fluids can drain away from the infected areas. 
  • Your doctor may recommend Baby Tylenol but do not administer it without speaking with them first and getting explicit instructions to do so. 

The silver lining among all of this is that even though ear infections are common, they are mercifully short lived. Just bear in mind that many clear up on their own within a few days without major complications. Have patience and do your best to stay rested and stress free while caring for your little one so that you both can bounce back even better!


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The content contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice or to replace the advice of any medical professional. It is based on our opinions and experience working with newborns and their families. Other’s opinions may vary. It does not represent the views of any affiliated organizations. The reader understands that the term “Babynurse” is often a word used to describe a newborn caregiver. However, unless otherwise disclosed, we are not licensed nurses in any state. By reading and/or utilizing any information or suggestions contained in this blog, the reader acknowledges that we are not medical professionals and agrees to and waives any claim, known or unknown, past, present or future. This blog may contain affiliate links.
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