Taking your baby swimming can be fun for both of you and can help your baby become safely acquainted with the water. But what if your baby has had tubes surgically placed in his ears? For many years, most doctors recommended that babies with tubes either stay out of the water or keep their ears covered, but recently more doctors believe swimming won't increase the chance of an ear infection. The Mayo Clinic recommends that parents check with their pediatrician about the need for ear protection. The pediatrician may recommend that your child wear ear plugs or a swimming cap while swimming to prevent bacteria from getting into the middle ear.
Caps with Ear Pockets
Most swimming caps are made to keep hair out of the way while swimming but leave the ears exposed. A few, however, do include ear pockets, which may protect the ears if they are submerged in water. For example, the Cressi Swim Swimming Ear Cap and the Aqua Sphere Glide Swim Cap both offer ear pockets.
Earplugs and Caps
Earplugs and caps that cover the ears, keeping the plugs in place, are a popular choice for the parents of children with ear tubes. They offer a double layer of protection, first plugging the ear canal and then covering it with a layer of fabric. If your little one doesn't like to have a cap that completely covers her head, a band will work just as well. One example is Ear Band-it, which claims to be the "most effective system ever developed for keeping water out of the ears" and was originally developed for children with ear tubes. The Ear Band-it is made of neoprene and is made to be used in combination with ear plugs.
Keeping Ears Covered
According to KidsHealth.org, nothing fancy is needed to keep water out of your little swimmer's ears. A simple pair of earplugs with a swimming or bathing cap should do the trick. These items are available at most drug stores and many department stores. Some ear plugs, including Putty Buddies brand, are made of silicone and mold to the shape of the ear.
Drying the Ears
If water still gets into your little one's ear, you can tip his head to the side to let the water drain out. You can also try using a hair dryer on its lowest setting and at least 12 inches away from his head to try to dry the water. If you see signs of an ear infection after swimming, call your doctor.