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Your Baby Week Nineteen


Updated July 16, 2014

6 of 7

Ear Pulling vs. Ear Infections

Many babies pull at their ears.

Is it a sign of an ear infection?

Sometimes it is, but often, if your baby is pulling at her ears and has no other symptoms, then it is likely normal. Some of those other symptoms that might indicate your baby has an ear infection include:

  • fussiness
  • fever
  • decreased appetite
  • waking up at night
  • having a runny nose and cough or just getting over a cold, since ear infections are often associated with colds

Without some of these other ear infection symptoms, your baby may be tugging at her ears because she has simply found them, when she is overtired, or because she is teething.

If you think that your child has an ear infection, see your pediatrician to confirm the diagnosis. In addition to ear infection symptoms, your baby should have signs of inflammation of her ear drum on physical exam, such as a red, bulging ear drum, which your pediatrician can see when looking inside your her ears.

If your child does indeed have an ear infection, then she will likely need an antibiotic. The latest ear infection treatment guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics does offer an "observation option" for older children so that they can be observed without antibiotics for up to 48 hours to see if they get better on their own, but they state that children under six months of age should always be treated with antibiotics when they have an ear infection.


American Academy of Pediatrics. Clinical Practice Guidelines. Diagnosis and Management of Acute Otitis Media. PEDIATRICS Vol. 113 No. 5 May 2004, pp. 1451-1465.

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