Ear infections are extremely common within babies and are usually caused by either bacteria or a virus. If your baby tugs, pulls and grabs at his ear and appears distressed, the chances are he has an ear infection.
Whilst it is one of the most common types of illness among infants there are certain steps parents can take to help prevent ear infections in infants.
Breastfeed exclusively for six months
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration in the US, conducted a recent study which concluded that babies who are breastfed exclusively for six months are less likely to pick up an ear infection than babies who are formula fed or even mixed fed. Breast milk contains antibodies that help to develop a child’s immune system, making them more able to fight infection.
Do not expose your baby to tobacco smoke
Whilst breast milk builds a baby’s immune system, tobacco smoke suppresses it, making it more difficult for an infant to fight infection and more likely to contract an ear infection. Try and keep your baby away from to tobacco smoke at all times.
Keep up to date with baby’s vaccines
Certain child vaccinations, particularly the Hib vaccine and the new pneumococcal vaccine, can have a tremendous impact in reducing ear infections in babies. It is therefore important that you are up to date with your child’s vaccinations. If your baby does seem prone to ear infections you may want to consider an annual flu vaccine. This vaccine, which can only be given to babies over six months old, has been proven to help reduce ear infections in babies.
Wash your hands and your baby’s hands regularly
Ear infections are highly contagious and if your little one attends a play group or nursery he will be particularly prone to catching an ear infection off other children. This can however be limited by washing your child’s, as well as you own hands, regularly to help prevent the germs from spreading.