OK, I know how it sounds, but this really happened today!

As is usual with boys, while changing the diaper he transformed into a fountain. I tried to cover myself with my hand, which deflected the stream and a few drops got into his ear.

I was told that you should not try to wash/clean internal parts of an ear of a new-born child. OTOH, I believe that humidity inside ear, hygiene, and aesthetics provide some good reasons to clean up the mess in this case. Are the acids from child's urine dangerous for ears? What should I use to clean it up?

  • Not an answer to your question, but… if your child is smart enough to urinate when given the opportunity, you should try Elimination Communication. Jul 7, 2014 at 18:25
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    @200_success Actually, I have heard that temperature change from the cooler air can trigger urination. I don't think it has anything to do with intelligence, especially in a newborn.
    – user420
    Jul 7, 2014 at 19:12
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    @Beofett Whatever the reason, it's worth offering the opportunity to urinate properly. Jul 7, 2014 at 19:15
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    You're talking about a newborn -- it's too early to train much at that age. Jul 7, 2014 at 20:21
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    FWIW, 'normal' human urine isn't acidic. It's pH neutral.
    – DA01
    Jul 8, 2014 at 1:43

2 Answers 2


Just a few drops of urine is entirely inconsequential. You can wipe away any wetness that is on the skin and in the outer ear, but don't do anything inside the ear canal. If it's a lot then you could wash the outer ear just like you would during bath-time, but still leave the inner ear alone.

The fresh air often encourages a bit of peeing but as I mentioned here you can avoid "rogue peeing" by covering the crotch with a washcloth when you open the diaper.


Urine is sterile leaving the baby's bladder, but doesn't stay that way for long; it is an ideal growth medium for bacteria. Personally, I would rinse it out, just as I would had it hit any other part of his body.

There is nothing wrong with getting clean water in your baby's ears. You will not get water in the inner ear (that is the third and deepest part of the ear) or the middle ear (where ear infections occur). The outer ear ends at the tympanic membrane (aka the ear drum), which will keep everything out of the middle ear. The infant's ear canal is not deep or angled at this point, and it should be easy to rinse out. While you are washing the scalp/face/etc., just let some drops of clean warm water run from the outer ear into the canal (Cool water won't hurt him, but it's uncomfortable; in fact, using cold water ellicits an attack of vertigo; the test is called "cold water calorics"!) When the canal is full, turn your baby's head so that the water runs out. If it's been a while since this happened, repeat once. Dry well with a towel, again turning your baby's head so that the canal drains.

Male infants do urinate on themselves. You would wash his face if he urinated on it, wouldn't you? Same applies to the ear. No biggie. He won't get "swimmer's ear" if that's what you're afraid of, and a middle ear infection is not possible this way.

I'd be more concerned about bacteria growing in what little urine is left in the ear canal than any harm from rinsing it out.

  • FYI, urine is not sterile (sciencenews.org/blog/gory-details/…) but that does not negate the rest of the info you provided.
    – auujay
    Jul 8, 2014 at 12:48
  • @auujay - Antimicrobial Peptides, Innate Immunity, and the Normally Sterile Urinary Tract, Journal of the American Society of Nephrology Jul 8, 2014 at 18:54
  • Your link is to an article that is a few years old. Recent research is challenging that long held belief, a quick internet search mostly pulls up stores on news sites or WebMD. Since you posted a "real" study I will link to a "real" one too, though you the paper is not available to the public. "Urine Is Not Sterile: Use of Enhanced Urine Culture Techniques To Detect Resident Bacterial Flora in the Adult Female Bladder", Journal of Clinical Macro Biology (jcm.asm.org/content/52/3/871.abstract)
    – auujay
    Jul 9, 2014 at 15:44
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    I did see there is some debate on this. Your link, btw, is bad. It is not universally accepted, and in the papers I saw that put this forward, the bacterial contamination is still so low as to make it extremely low count bacteriologically. Also, this is adult women with symptoms (either incontinence or overactive bladder), not infants. (A bladder infection is >1000 cfu's/ml. The papers I saw are talking about 1-5 cfu's - more after incubation, and not all samples grew bugs - and only one was from catheterized specimens.) In any case, it's beside the point. Jul 9, 2014 at 19:45

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