A common childhood illness, ear infections are typically associated with pain, reduced appetite, difficulty sleeping and general fussiness. While ear infections aren't typically dangerous, dealing with a fussy baby is considerably less than fun. Reduce your baby's risk for ear infections with these five simple strategies.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, children who breastfeed for six months or more are less likely to suffer from ear infections. This is likely due to the antibodies they receive from their mothers.
2. Avoid Secondhand Smoke
Secondhand smoke compromises the immune system and increases the risk of an ear infection. If you smoke currently, stop as soon as possible. Even if you don't smoke around your children, the smell still clings to your clothes and your hair more than you realize. Don't allow others to smoke in your home or around your children either.
3. Avoid Prolonged Pacifier Use
While pacifiers are generally fine for young infants, they can increase the risk of ear infections in babies older than a year (not to mention increased dental and speech problems later on). After the first six months, pacifier use is more habit than need anyway, so you might as well get rid of it.
4. Wash Your Hands Frequently
Hand washing is the absolute best way of preventing many illnesses, and ear infections are no exception. Keep germs off of your hands and baby's, and don't allow anyone to put their hands or fingers in baby's mouth or ears.
5. Stay Up-to-Date on Immunizations
While immunizations do not directly prevent ear infections, research has shown that they can help prevent other illnesses, such as the flu, which are believed to increase the ear infection risk.
Save your baby the pain and yourself the sleepless nights! Follow these five strategies to reduce your baby's risk of ear infection today.