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I've read that this can happen during teething, and she is now 4 months. Thing is, she doesn't have any teeth and isn't really showing the signs in full force yet. She's not in any discomfort than I can perceive so I doubt it's an ear infection. She just swats at her ear and sometimes she pushes on it...and it's usually around feeding time.

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Two of my five kids did this, the others pulled or squeezed various other things at different ages. With the ear thing in particular, I think that it is just that the ear/nose/throat are all connected, so they may be feeling some pressure as they swallow and they touch the point where they perceive it.

Kids have weird habits that they get into, then they go away all of the sudden. I'm not a doctor, but... I wouldn't worry about it.

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To worry, or not to worry...this is the question. :) Yeah, I'm trying to blow this one off. It just stinks when they can't talk and you're a clueless parent. Thanks for the perspective. – Bob Mar 31 '11 at 1:54
Our kid had an ear infection. But he was not just touching his ears when he was eating. – Barfieldmv May 3 '11 at 13:32

Our son did that some times at around that age... the key observation was that when he was doing it during nursing, his ear was at the same level as his mouth or below it. The theory was that he was getting liquid seeping along his sinuses and heading for his ear and he could "hear", or at least feel, it. We adjusted the way he was held while nursing so that his head was more "upright" and the ears were above the mouth and it went away. The main concern we had was his sharp little nails were scratching the area just infront of his ear all up. (Those cutesy little mitten things they sell at the stores in the baby areas... yeah... pretty but useless.)

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I'll pay attention to what position she's in. The whole sinus connection thing seems plausible, especially since they pretty intensely at that age (sucking every bit of milk). Thanks! – Bob Mar 31 '11 at 1:52

Myself and my two brothers, according to my parents, all tugged our ears when we were tired.

I actually still find myself doing it once in a while if I'm exhausted and I've caught my niece and nephews exhibiting the same behavior. IMO, it's a telltale sign that they're doneski : T-minus 30 min until complete meltdown; get the story book out or you'll regret it.

This thread at, agrees with all the answers here, including this one. Basically, if they don't have an ear infection or problems with their Eustachian tubes, then they're just tired.

Although their link is dead in that post, a user says: I had always heard that there is a specific "calming" nerve in the ear that helps one to relax when stimulated.

Try it yourself. It feels good, and soon you'll want a nap (you remember naps, right? That thing we all want to do after a large meal ;).

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Maybe she is playing with the sound of chewing. We adults ignore it; but chewing is quite loud for your own ears if you pay attention. By pulling, the sound changes.

You will know when your child have an ear infection, it will be pretty obvious.

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