When an infant is sick, it can be difficult to tell what's wrong. Kate Kelly, Managing Editor of American Baby Magazine, has some tips for spotting an ear infection.
First, remember that diagnosing an ear infection is not a clear-cut science. Some children are more prone to ear infections simply because the tubes in their ears are more narrow than usual. "It's hard," says Kelly. "One of the first signs is a fever that's around 102 degrees." If your child's fever doesn't reach 102, don't rule out an ear infection completely. "Fever often indicates some kind of infection," says Kelly, so be sure to keep a thermometer on hand.
While every child is cranky when they're sick, children with ear infections tend to be more irritable when they're lying down. A trip to the doctor is probably necessary, and he or she will probably prescribe an antibiotic. "A six month old has no way of telling you, 'I'm feeling better now,' so they'll just play it safe," says Kelly.
While ear infections are common between six months and two years of age, there are some things you can do to help avoid them. First, try breast feeding if you can. You'll be passing on valuable anti-bodies to your child, which can help ward off infection.
Also, quit smoking! Exposure to smoke paralyzes a child's cilia - the hair inside their ear - and the fluid present may build up, causing infection. Not only will your baby be less likely to get an ear infection, there are health benefits for you too.
Another preventative tip? Feed your child while they're sitting up instead of lying down. Do not, under any circumstances, put your baby to sleep with a bottle in their mouth.
For more information on preventing ear infections, as well as additional parenting advice, click here to visit www.AmericanBaby.com.
By Erin Petrun