About ear pulling or ear tugging in children

If your baby or young child is pulling at her ears, it might be a sign that she’s tired or that her ears are blocked with ear wax.

Ear pulling or tugging can also sometimes be a sign of a middle ear infection or external ear infection.

Teething is often blamed for ear pulling, but it isn’t clear whether there’s a link between teething and pulling.

Does your child need to see a doctor about ear pulling?

You should take your child to the GP if:

  • you think he might have an ear infection
  • your child is unwell and has a fever for no apparent reason
  • you think your child might have put something in his ear.

Treatment for ear pulling

Ear pulling or tugging usually isn’t anything to worry about.

If you think your child is pulling her ears because she’s tired, you could try settling her for sleep, or giving her some quiet time.

To get rid of a build-up of ear wax, you could try ear drops that you can buy from your pharmacy. You can also use a few drops of olive oil.

If your child has an ear infection, he might need antibiotics. Your GP will talk about this with you.

If you think your child is in pain from teething, you could try giving her paracetamol in recommended doses.

Don’t try to clean your child’s ears with things like cotton tips. This can cause damage to the ear canal or drum.