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My baby girl loves taking baths but, of course, we get conflicting information about how often and how careful we should be of water in her ears. The pediatrician said every other day and didn't say anything about being careful about getting water in her ears (though, maybe it's obvious since, you know, you gotta keep her head above water).

Anyway, is it really that big a deal if water gets in her ears? She turns her head and unless I try really hard water makes it's way in there, especially when washing her hair.

Will this cause ear infections? For reference, the infant in question is seven weeks old.

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You didn't mention her age. –  AbdulAziz May 23 '12 at 13:54
Oh, she's 7 weeks! –  tooshel May 24 '12 at 16:52

7 Answers 7

We not only used to bathe the kids in such a way that their ears were definitely under water when rinsing their hair, but took them swimming from a couple of months old.

If the water is from a source which could contain infection - eg the sea, or a public swimming pool - you just give the ears a good rinse when they get out and then dry.

When children are older they can learn how to tip their heads to help water escape, but for now you can easily wick up any water in their using the end of a tissue - nothing dangerous, just get the corner folded up enough that you can reach into the ear and the water will wick straight into the tissue.

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Agreed ! We started going to the swimming-pool with kids around 4-5 months. At the moment only one small ear infection was caught (she's 26 months), not even related to swimming and it was cured very quickly. However while she was under treatment, the doctor recommended to avoid water for a few days. –  Michel Daviot May 7 '13 at 21:22

The reason behind the "keep water out of the ear" thing stems from the fact that an infant's ear canal is angled differently than an adult's (or even an older child's). In an infant, the angle is such that it is more prone to collecting water, which can then sit, stagnate, and eventually lead to ear infections.

Some children are so prone to ear infections due to this that they have to have tubes put in (generally, more than 4 ear infections in 6 months warrants a trip to an Ear Nose and Throat specialist) to help the water drain out. If you've ever had an ear infection, you probably know why recurring ear infections are bad in young children, aside from the fact that they just plain suck - it makes it difficult to hear, and for young children, it can slow language development, which can cause long-term issues.

So yes, it's a good idea to avoid getting water in an infant's ears. However, life happens and there are a number of ways to help drain or dry the water. Rory's answer has some good tips on that.

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I can't imagine that this is a problem, I used to get water in my ears all of the time when I was younger, particularly during bathing. In fact, I used to completely submerge my head (apart from my nose) in the bath water to rinse the shampoo from my head when my hair was washed (due to an aversion to having water poured on my head). I have never had an ear infection.

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You remember this as a baby? –  LarsTech May 23 '12 at 2:45
From two years of age... I am assuming that similar practises were used before then. –  Nico Burns May 23 '12 at 13:14

Unless it is sterilized water, a newborn or very young baby should not have water go inside ear canal.

Babies immune systems are different and immature. Some grownup recurring sinus infections and infections are attributed to mold in the cavities.

I use to take Qtips and go gently with Olive oil around my babies ears, later on as they got older they ended up with water inside! Everyone does it differently.

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Will this cause ear infections?

Yes, this will cause infection in her ear.

To prevent water to get in her ear, you should apply a very little amount of Vaseline or use a piece of cotton to put at start of her ear.

Source: I learned this from my mother who raised more than 8 children.

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I think this is not accurate. It will not cause ear infections. It can lead to ear infections or increase the chance of ear infections. –  Dave Clarke May 23 '12 at 14:26
Ok that's what I mean that it lead to ear infection. English is not my first language. But I said that this "will" cause infection in her ear. –  AbdulAziz May 23 '12 at 21:44
@AbdulAziz You have to be very careful with Vaseline/cotton. Putting anything in the ear canal smaller than your elbow is not recommended (phrase is "Never put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear!"). –  bobobobo May 24 '12 at 2:37
@bobobobo thanks for the advice. I just apply Vaseline at the very beginning of the ear not inside it. any way thanks –  AbdulAziz May 24 '12 at 11:12
@monsto: Imprecision is misinformation. –  Dave Clarke Aug 21 '13 at 15:05

I don't think this will cause an ear infection the child lived in water for 9 months so why should water cause their ears to hurt?

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Welcome to parenting.stackexchange. The amniotic fluid inside the womb is a bit different than water from the tap. Can you provide some personal experience or a bit of research to support your idea? –  MJ6 Nov 19 '13 at 0:15

Yes I had ear infection before the specialist said use a bit Vaseline on the cotton ball to put in ears like wearing ear plugs to prevent the water getting into ears.

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I'm not sure that a specialist advising you to keep water out of an ear that is already infected is the same as saying water should be kept out of an infant's ear to avoid infection. –  Beofett Apr 8 '13 at 13:39
I can't understand how anything involving vaseline and a baby's ear could be anything but bad. You'll never get it all out. –  monsto Aug 21 '13 at 12:27

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