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How to Clean a Toddler's Ears

By Eric Mohrman ; Updated April 18, 2017
These have lots of uses, but they shouldn't ever go in your child's ear canal.

That goo in your toddler's ear is usually a good thing. Earwax protects the ear against dirt and debris, and your child probably makes just as much as she needs; excess usually works its way out on its own. Sometimes, though, earwax builds up to the point of causing discomfort or impairing hearing. In such cases, it needs to be removed, but by a pediatrician or ENT. Don't ever stick a cotton-tipped swab in your child's ear canal, as this risks puncturing her delicate eardrum and pushes wax down into the ear canal, contributing to impaction. If your child's doctor recommends home cleanings, there's one safe and effective way to do it.

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Dampen a clean washcloth with warm water. Use it to gently wipe away visible wax around the opening of the ear canal, but don't go into the ear canal with it.

Lay your toddler on her side, with the ear you want to clean facing up. Turn on the TV or otherwise find a way to encourage her to cooperate.

Administer equal parts hydrogen peroxide and lukewarm water or a commercially available ear-cleaning solution into your child's ear canal, using a medicine dropper. Fill the ear canal, which usually takes between five and 10 drops. Squeeze the loaded dropper for a minute to warm the solution, as hot or cold liquid in the ear causes considerable discomfort.

Keep your child in place as well as you can for up to five minutes. Keep her company, and, if you have to, offer a small prize for cooperation. Then, let your toddler get up and allow the liquid to flow out of the ears naturally. Wipe it and any wax away with a damp washcloth.

Repeat this ear cleaning process daily for three to five days, or as recommended by your child's doctor. After the last application, irrigate your toddler's ear with room-temperature water in a rubber bulb syringe. Place the tip at the opening of your child's ear canal and squeeze forcefully. Wipe away the run-out and wax with a clean, damp washcloth.

Things You Will Need

  • Washcloths
  • Medicine dropper
  • Hydrogen peroxide and water or ear cleaning solution
  • Rubber bulb syringe

Tip

Your child's doctor is the best person for the job of wax removal. He can do so easily and usually painlessly with tools made just for the job, such as a curette, irrigation device or small suction device.

Warning

Refrain from using a cotton-tipped swab even to remove earwax outside the ear canal. There's still some risk of injury to the eardrum if your young child makes a sudden movement. Also, your toddler may copy you and try to clean her own ears with a swab, also risking injury.

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About the Author

Eric Mohrman has been a freelance writer since 2007, focusing on travel, food and lifestyle stories. His creative writing is also widely published. He lives in Orlando, Florida.

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