What Will Happen If a Baby Gets Milk in His Ears?

By April Sanders
Bottle-feeding while lying down increases the risk of milk getting into the ear.
Bottle-feeding while lying down increases the risk of milk getting into the ear.

Hungry babies aren't the most patient people -- give a hungry baby a bottle or breast and milk will likely be spilled. In the case of bottle-fed babies, this can lead to an ear infection. According to AskDrSears.com, formula or breast milk sometimes gets backed up in the eustachian tube in babies who are bottle-fed while lying down.

Ear Infection

A blocked eustachian tube might lead to an ear infection, according to WebMD. Babies and young children have shorter tubes than adults, which means they get blocked more easily. In the case of babies, the tubes can become blocked by milk that backs up in them while feeding. This in turn will irritate the tissues of the middle ear, which can quickly lead to an ear infection.

Feeding Position

Young babies can't sit up by themselves, which means they need to be cradled when fed. Although it might be tempting to lay a baby down on his back and give him a bottle to hold, this is not a good idea for several reasons. The first is that it can cause your baby to choke. The second is that this position can lead to blocked eustachian tubes, especially if the bottle is full of formula.

Breast is Best

Babies who are breastfed do not usually get milk in the eustachian tubes because of the relatively upright position of the baby, and also because of the sucking motion of breastfeeding babies. Babies who are fed breast milk in bottles are also less likely to develop ear infections, even if milk does trickle into the eustachian tubes. This is because human milk does not irritate the tissues of the middle ear as much as formula does, according to AskDrSears.

Symptoms of Milk Ear

Babies with blocked eustachian tubes or ear infections might cry in pain or tug at their ears. If you suspect your baby has blocked eustachian tubes or an ear infection, call your pediatrician. The doctor will be able to look at the tube to see whether it is blocked or infected and treat your baby accordingly. In the meantime, a warm, wet cloth pressed against the ear can sometimes ease the pain.