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Is It An Ear Infection, Or Are You Just Being A Toddler?

2 April 2010 30 Comments

My nearly 2-year-old son is healthy. Thank God for that. It’s something I am truly grateful for every day. He rarely ever gets sick, hardly ever gets a cold. I can count on one hand the number of times he’s had a fever. He didn’t have his first runny nose until a trip up north when he was 10 months old in the dead of winter (and then it was the saddest/cutest thing to listen to his little piggy snorts as he tried to sleep). And ear infections? My kid? Never.

There were times I was convinced he had ear infections. I would drag him out to the pediatrician, give the line “he’s REALLY fussy… and I think he’s pulling on his ears.” Nope. Never an ear infection. Always something abstract like colic or teething. So I sort of came to a point when I figured, eh, maybe my kid just doesn’t get ear infections. Perhaps I was a bit too cocky about it. Maybe it went to my head.

A couple months back I took him into the pediatrician for a diaper rash, only to discover he had not one ear infection, but TWO. It seemed, in a strategic move to put myself in the running for Worst Mother Of The Year, I dismissed his extreme crankiness for him being almost two and his exhaustion for him coming down from his Tasmanian Devil high. It never even occurred to me to wonder if he had an ear infection, and I’m sort of glad those strawberries made his butt breakout the way they did.

So now I’m back to worrying and wondering. It’s hard with a 2 year old to know if the irritability is coming from the general nature of a frustrated toddler or from something amiss with their health. I was glad to learn that Born Free’s Drinking Cups decrease the risk of middle ear infections, and I made sure to put those in heavy rotation around here. So far, we haven’t had any repeat ear infections… that I know of. Of course, we haven’t been back to the pediatrician in a while. Who knows what they’ll tell me next time we’re in.

Comment to win: What are some of the signals your child gives you when they are sick or have an ear infection?

The Prize: A Twin-pack of 9oz bottles!

Contest ends April 5, 2010

Jill Krause
BornFree Mom Panel Member
Author of BabyRabies.com
Editor’s Pick for Best Baby Journal Blog by TheBump.com


  • Sabrina McKinley said:

    When my oldest son has a ear infections he has only had 3 (he is 3 years old.) He usually just tugs at his ears, is really crabby or runs a slight fever. The first time he had a ear infection I had no idea besides that I took him to the dr for shots and they noticed it. I too felt like a bad mom!

    That is really nice to know about the cups! I will have to pick some up for my little one that will be 1 next week and my little one in my tummy that will be here in August!! :)

  • Tiffany Marr said:

    I had that happen to me once with my daughter, then 9 months old. We went in for a well-baby check-up and I found out she had an ear infection! I felt terrible, but she hadn’t really shown any signs. We use Born Free bottles and now the cups too! Thanks!

  • Amber M. said:

    The two times my 3-year-old son had an ear infection he was very irritable, cranky, restless, and had a slight runny nose and fever. He also just wanted me to hold him and comfort him. The strange thing is he never tugged his ears or acted like they were bothering him.

    I can always tell when my kids are sick just by looking at their eyes. So far my baby girl hasn’t had an ear infection, but she’s had both the flu and a cold. Whenever she’s not feeling well she wants to constantly nurse for comfort and only wants me to hold her. My kids love their dad, but they always want their mom when they’re sick. I don’t mind one bit. :)

    I am looking forward to trying out Born Free’s Drinking Cups. It’s good to know that they decrease the risk of middle ear infections! Thank you Born Free for making such amazing products!

  • Amy W. said:

    My son William had a very tough time with ear infections. He ended up having to have ear tube surgery at 7 months. I got really good at telling when Will had an infection, due to the fact that he kept having them back to back. William would be very fussy to the point that nothing helped him. He would then tug on his ears constantly. He would not sleep well and would run a low-grade fever. When these factors would combine in 24 hours, it was time to call his doctor. Thank goodness the surgery has helped him. He has not had an ear infection since his surgery in December.

  • Mel1010 said:

    my son is generally a happy boy. so when he is cranky or cries i guess he does not feel well. so tough being a new mom!

  • Jenni said:

    My daughter is almost 18 months old and so far she hasn’t had any ear infections… that I was aware of. I am extremely blessed. She’s had runny noses from teething (I think?) but has only actually been sick with a cold twice in her life – at 5 weeks and last week. But I always THOUGHT she had ear infections! Because of extra fussiness and she would pull on her ears. Then her doc said that teething could cause them to pull on her ears. So I never know what to think!

  • Heather Morin said:

    My son has been having ear infections since hes been a year old. I never knew because he never had a fever runny nose etc or anything to go along with it. He would just say “my ears are hurting me mommy”. I thought I was overreacting but I’d run him to the doctor asap and come to find out it was an ear infection. They were never real bad and cleared up with antibiotics. I put an air purifier in his room and he did great for a long time. Hes now gonna be 4 in 3 weeks. Then starting back in November, he got an ear infection and did not feel the pain until it was unbearable. Again, no fevers, no cold symptoms, nothing for me to think ear infectiong. Then were shopping at TJ Maxx one night and all of a sudden he just fell to the floor screaming. We took him to the hospital and he had a horrible ear infection. Almost to the point perforating his ear drum. This has happened 3 times since then. The pedi still does not want to put tubes in is ears. He has one more time, then he will be going to an ENT. I feel so bad for my little buddy!!But he is a trooper!

    I love the born-free bottles. I have a 5 month old and they are the only bottles he will use. I’m hoping I can win these because they are so expensive!!!! I can’t wait until we can transition over to the “sippy” cups. Which will happen in another month or so!

  • Elizabeth said:

    Too much fluid… No infection

    It seem like everytime I took my son to see the doctor, he said there was fulid in one or both ears and we should give him antibiotics “in case” of an infection. I feel like we were giving him antibiotics every month of an almost ear-infection. Not wanting to have him build up an immunity to something that could potentially save his life one day, I finally said “no”. Now I had to really watch that fluid! If it did become an infection, then I would take him back in. But how do you know? Is he being a typical 15 month old? Is he just being cranky? Is that ear-pull a sign? I think I become more worrisome after I decided not to give him antibiotics with just fluid. He has yet to have an official ear infection, so I’ve got to be judging something right… though I’m not sure what! Perhaps it’s a little of everything and not too much of anything. Best advise – if a nap or a snack fixes it, it’s not an ear infection!

  • Erin said:

    My first only had one ear infection when he was about a year old. He was very cranky, irritable and not sleeping well. I took him to see the doc and he had an ear infection. Just that one time though.

    My youngest is 8 months and he recently showed some of the same symptomes…cranky, irritable and not sleeping well…although..he has NEVER slept well so I was not really sure that anything was even wrong with him. It was when I was giving him a bath and tried to clean one of his ears that he totally freaked out and started screaming. That was enough to have me at the docs office the next day and yes..he had an ear infection.

  • erin said:

    Dismissing an illness is one of my big fears of failing mommyhood. Luvkily my mother is nurse practioner so rather than calling the doctor, I get to call her. All. The. Time. Thanks mom!

    Been wanting to try Born-free for awhile – my fingers are crossed.

  • mike said:

    As a new parent, one of my biggest fears is misreading my sons discomfort as something other than illness

  • Kathy said:

    We’ve been lucky and have only had one ear infection in my son’s 4 year old life. They only way I knew about it was that it spread to his eyes (pink eye) otherwise I might have never known. Perhaps since we used a lot of BornFree drinking cups when he was younger helped out in that department!

  • ashley said:

    knock on wood but to date my two children have been very healthy – no ear infections. but the one time my daughter had a fever at 9 months she wanted to be held and cuddled all day. i felt so sorry for her being sick but soaked up all the cuddle time, selfish a little but i loved the snuggles!

  • Elizabeth Smith said:

    It is so funny how that works. Almost without fail, if you go in for some minor symptoms, nothing is wrong. If you write it off or put it off to avoid seeming paranoid to the pediatrician, it is always some kind of infection or virus! lol

  • Regina H. said:

    My Sophia will be 15 months old on the 10th & we’ve yet to have an ear infection. **knocks on wood** She was BF until 14 months old & the occasional bottle was Born Free! She LOVES her Born Free drinking cups & I’d love to have a few more bottles to “convert” into cups!

  • Harmony said:

    My son is only 9 months old, and knock on wood has not yet had any ear infections or has really been sick! He has had one small cold so far-I do appreciate this post and all the comments, its informative for a new mom!
    (Aedan loves his born free bottles, they are the best..no gas, air bubbles or discomfort!! Thanks Born Free!)

  • Jackie Cunningham said:

    So far the 9 month old hasn’t had to deal with this but in her older siblings (there are 4) I only had one that would get cranky and pull at their ears! A slight fever and too quiet were the only symptoms he others ever had, very frustrating because I had to be on my toes to catch an infection. Thankfully, they didn’t get very many.

  • Colleen said:

    Both my children had hot hands when they were sick- regardless of the illness. If the hands were hot, we called the doctor. Even now (15 and 18) I still feel their hands when they aren’t feeling well.

  • Shellie said:

    He pulls at his ears and has a hard time talikg a bottle

  • Maureen said:

    Luckily our kiddo has been pretty healthy and generally very happy, but when he gets cranky I immediately check to see if his ears are red or if he reacts when I gently tug on his ears.

  • leslie said:

    My girls always get really fussy and run low grade fevers. Sometimes tugging on ears but not always!

  • Kate Petro said:

    I have 3 kids ages 5, 3 1/2, & just turned 1year. My oldest and youngest-NO EAR INFECTIONS! But my 3 1/2 year old got them ALL the time. The biggest indicator for her was a fever…and she had trouble sleeping. It’s a hard call but they do make this wonderful device called an Ear Check…you put it in the ear like a thermometer and it uses noise to bounce sound waves off the ear drum to detect an infection..it’s AWESOME! :)

  • sbo68 said:

    My 16 mo. old gives me no signs. I really wish I had one of those instruments the doctors use to check for infections. One, it would save me a lot of money and time, and two I’d feel much better about letting him cry it out when he wakes up in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, the doctor he said he’d be out of business pretty quick….lol. I took him today to get him checked out because he hasn’t slept through the night since mid February. He has fluid in both ears but no infection. It’s sad when you wish your child was actually sick so that an antibiotic can do all the work in about 2 days!!!

  • Jenn Carlin said:

    My son is 6 months old. He actually had a fever earlier this week and has been more fussy than usual… I never consider an ear infection as there haven’t been any other symptoms. It is good to know the signs and symptoms, but also to know that there may not be all the typical signs and symptoms for an ear infection to be present. I don’t want to be a mom who brings in her son to the doc all the time for nothing, but I also don’t want to over look anything! I feel I am constantly juggling that decision… to see the doc or not. Thanks for the tips! (We love our Born Free bottles and would LOVE more!!!!)

  • Jillian Lamoureux said:

    Sometimes food allergies can contribute to ear infections by causing inflamation and thus the fluids get backed up…usually dairy and/or wheat are popular for this. Drinking while laying down can also contribute to fluid getting stuck in the ears.
    If there is a low grade fever, tugging on the ears,or chewing on things more so than normal (but no new teeth coming in) I’d get him/her checked out. My daughter has only had fluid in her ears once and is almost two, but would chew on her hands like crazy when they were bugging her. (As opposed to how she chews on cold stuff when teething.)
    Antibiotics are not always needed to treat ear infections, but discuss alternatives with your doctor. Probiotics work wonders as does limiting dairy products and substituting with something like almond/soy/hemp/etc beverages.
    Hoping to win!! Great product!!

  • Michelle Bunn said:

    I never knew when my son had ear infections. He never cried or pulled his ears or got fussy at all. We would go to the doctor for a wellbaby check and I would hear, “he has two ear infections.” The only time we saw an effect was when his hearing was effected. Talk about feeling like a bad mom. It just didn’t affect him. They put tubes in his ears and his hearing returned to normal.

  • Angela Dirks said:

    My daughter is almost 18 weeks and we have yet to have an ear infection (I think). :-) She has stuffiness and we’ve had our share of ‘crankiness’ and ‘comfort nursing’, but she’s been fairly healthy.

    And we’ve exclusively used Born Free since first introducing the bottle, including the pacifiers, so looking forward to using the sippy cups as well. We’ve used the medela nipples on their bottles occasionally and it collapses and she gets frustrated. It’s always better to just transfer to the BF bottles.

  • Lexy said:

    I always know she’s going to get sick if she gets a runny nose and dark circles around her eyes. Poor thing. I hate it when they are sick!!!!

  • Leslie S said:

    All my boys are very much happy so when they are super cranky or fussy, I know something is up. I didn’t realize BF has drinking cups! Must stock up now!

  • Amanda Owens said:

    All of my children, boys and girls were very typical when it came to ear infenctions. Or atleast I think they were typical. They always seemed to have alot of drainage from the ear, cold symptoms always started, followed by fever. When they would cry due to the discomfort I would notice that they would turn their head in the direction of the infected ear,or they would tug on the ear once they were older.

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