Why Does My Infant Keep Rubbing Her Ears: 7 Reasons Every New Mom Should Know


Pulling or rubbing the ears due to itching might be a common thing, but is a matter of serious concern as well. It is possible that your baby is going through pain in the ears. Actually, babies find it difficult to locate their pain. Therefore, as a parent, it becomes your responsibility to observe the signs and find out if he has caught some kind of infection or is just playing with his ears.

Read More: 5 Reasons for Your Baby’s Itchy Ears

7 Must Know Reasons for Infants Rubbing Ears

rubbing ears

1. Ear Infection

Also known as Otitis, ear infection can make the baby pull or scratch his ears. This is common among babies over six months of age. The common symptoms include ear pain, runny nose, yellow ear drainage, fever, hearing loss, and troubled sleep. In addition, your baby might also get cranky and cry a lot during feeds as swallowing and sucking can put extra pressure on his ears.

Read more: Symptoms and Causes of Ear Infection in Kids

2. Swimmers Ear

If your baby is itching, tugging, or pulling his outer ear, there is a possibility of your child suffering from Swimmer’s Ear. Also known as Otitis externa, Swimmer’s Ear is an ear infection that affects the lining of the outer ear canal. This problem occurs usually when water enters the ear canal after a shower or bath. Besides, it can also happen if cotton swabs are dipped into the ear canal to result in irritation. This further leads to eroding of the protective lining of the skin thus leaving the area perfect for bacterial proliferation.


3. Cold Infection

This is another possible reason for your child to rub or pull his ears. When infants catch a cold, it can lead to different ear infections. In babies, such infection is called Otitis Media. Usually, it occurs when the Eustachian tube of the baby develops a cold infection leading to a swelling in the tube. This further leads to blockage and thus collection of mucus in the middle ear. Surprisingly, this area might be infected with bacteria. Otitis Media occurs in babies with a weak or underdeveloped immune system wherein the Eustachian tubes are unable to drain the fluid completely from the middle ear.

A cold infection can cause the middle ear of the baby to swell up. This swelling traps the fluid inside the ear thus creating a humid environment for proliferation of bacteria and viruses.

Read more: Home Remedies to Treat Ear Infection in Kids

4. Teething

Teething can be yet another reason for your baby to pull his ears or scratch them. Also, it is quite possible for the baby to misconceive gum swelling and irritation for ear ache. If your baby is undergoing the teething process, make it a point to look for signs and symptoms like fussing, chewing on items, and drooling. He might also have fever, but below 101 degrees Fahrenheit.

Read more: 11 Signs of Teething

5. Earwax

As babies grow older, they develop earwax. The buildup of this earwax occurs when ear swabs are placed inside the ear canal, even if to clean the ears. As a matter of fact, ear cleaning Q-tips are wider than the ear canal till babies reach their teens. Therefore, the earwax gets pushed back inside the ear canal.


6. She has discovered something new

Perhaps you baby has just discovered her ear and is seeing it as a new toy. Many babies tend to do that, so there is nothing to worry about it!

7. She is tired

 Many babies keep touching their ears because they feel tired or sleepy. It usually happens after they have been fed, so keep an eye on such situations.

Read More: Middle Ear Infection in Children: Ultimate Guide

Tips to Comfort your Baby from Ear Pain

If your infant is going through irritation or pain in the ear, here are some general tips to make him comfortable during pain and irritation.

  • You can apply a warm compress to your baby’s ears.
  • Take a damp towel and place it on your baby’s face, as close to the ear as possible.
  • Another way to reduce the pressure on your baby’s ears is by keeping his head raised high. If your baby is over two years of age, make it a point to use a pillow whenever you make him/her sleep. Also make it a point to make him sit erect when sitting in a car seat. However, for infants and babies, avoid using a pillow.

Read more: Tips for Taking Care of Your Kid’s Ears

Home Remedies for Infants Rubbing Ears:

Below are some natural ear infection remedies for babies that you can use without visiting the doctor:


1. Garlic/Mullein Drops

Garlic is found to be very effective in killing bacteria than antibiotics, and when garlic is accompanied with mullein, it forms the best baby ear pain home remedy. Garlic is known for its immunity providing capabilities and mullein for its ability to ease the pain. Put 2-3 drops of garlic and mullein oil in your baby’s ear and repeat it 3 times a day for better relief.

2. Fluids

Fluids also help in treating ear infections in babies. If your baby is still in the breastfeeding stage, consider feeding them more often than usual, as antibodies present in breast milk can prevent your baby from an ear infection.

3. Hot Compresses

Hot compresses on the outer portion of the ear can help relieve ear pain due to an ear infection. A hot water bottle, a heating pack, or even a cloth dipped in hot water can be gently applied on to your infant’s ear to make their pain go away. Though, one should be careful regarding the temperature of the water or the pack before applying it, as babies have sensitive skin.

4. Hydrogen Peroxide

Mix warm water and peroxide equally. Put 2-3 drops in your ear and let it rest for 15 seconds. Later, tilt your kid’s head to help the liquid drain away. Repeat the procedure twice on a daily basis for better results.

5. Massage

Massage is another easy and convenient option to assure normal circulation and fluid drainage from a baby’s ears. Gently massage on your ward’s external ear area or their neck in the downward direction and give inward pressure from the back of the area towards the front area of their cheek. Repeat massaging at least twice a day using essential oils such as rosemary, lavender, tea tree or even the eucalyptus oil.

6. Baking Soda Rinse

Rinsing your child’s ear with baking soda can treat a prevalent ear infection. Mix a few drops of baking soda in water and spray the liquid on the ear’s surface with the help of a syringe. After rinsing it with baking soda, put some drops of essential oil into the ear such as garlic or lavender oil.


7. Echinacea and Goldenseal

Echinacea and goldenseal are two herbs that greatly help in preventing ear infections. 2ml of the mixture of these herbs is recommended for children, at least 3 times a day for treating ear infections and build immunity. These two herbs fight bacterial infections.

Besides these tips and other general precautions, you can also go for some natural home remedies to comfort your baby from pain and irritation resulting from different reasons. However, if you don’t succeed with home remedies, it is better to consult your paediatrician at the earliest to avoid the occurrence of any serious complications.