Whether your little one loves to swim, has an unfortunate infection, or is healing from surgery, your family’s pediatrician might recommend using kids’ ear drops. But getting medicine into squirmy little ears can be difficult, and performing the task correctly is often essential for a full, speedy recovery. So keep reading for everything you need to know about how to give ear drops to a child properly to ensure the process goes nice and smoothly. 


It might seem simple, open the bottle and drip some medicine right into the ear canal. But there are actually several recommended steps to make sure the drops are given correctly. The first step is to check the bottle. Read the name, make sure it matches the prescription, and actually is the intended ear drops for your child. Reading the medicine’s label carefully is key to being absolutely sure that you give the right amount of drops at the right frequency. It is also common that drops should be warmed up by rolling through the palms or running under warm water before use. Be sure to check that the drops are at the right temperature: not too hot or too cold. Next, prepare your child by ensuring that their hair is out of the way. You may want to use a scrunchy, hair clip, headband, or other kid-friendly hair accessory. 

Before you begin, wash your hands carefully and your child’s too. Now, for the action, have your child get into a comfortable position where their ear can face upwards. They might prefer a chair, a sofa, or a bed. Any of these options is fine, as long as the ear canal is easily accessible and they are able to stay still for a while. Before giving the medicine, check the ear visually to see if you notice anything unusual such as blood, pus, or discharge. If you see something like this, stop, and call your pediatrician for advice before continuing. Otherwise, if you only notice a clear liquid, called drainage, it is ok to proceed. Simply clean the outer ear, and only the outer ear, with a tissue or cotton pad to swipe it away before delivering those drops!


Now that all of the preparation is out of the way, it is time for the hard part: delivering the drops. If you are unsure how to use ear drops, be sure to follow these careful directions to ensure that they make it safely into the inner ear, instead of slipping around on the outside. Start by holding the middle of the outer edge of your child’s ear and carefully moving it to open up the canal. For children under three, you will need to pull the edge of the ear downward and backwards, while for children older than three you will need to pull upwards and backwards. Take a look inside the ear to see that the hole is nice and wide to help you drop the medicine in easily.

Then, hold the dropper bottle above the hole in the ear just enough to see them go inside. Make sure your hand is steady. You might want to prop your wrist against something to avoid shaking, such as leaning it gently on your child’s cheek or head. As you carefully squeeze the bottle, watch the drops go in and count them to ensure the proper dosage. Do your best to squeeze the drops onto the side of the ear canal to help the medicine slide in while any excess air can escape. If your child needs double the drops, one set for each ear, repeat all of the steps above on the other side!


While the difficult parts of your task are now complete, there is still more to be done to ensure the best delivery of the kids’ ear drops. After giving the proper dose, it is best to help the drops move into the ear. You can do this by rubbing or pressing down several times on the part of the ear that rests over the hole. Keep your little one lying still in the same position that you gave them the drops for at least a minute or two to let the medicine move its way all the way down and absorb where it is needed. During this time, you can opt to cover the ear with a small amount of cotton, but never a cotton swab, on the top of the inside of the ear to keep the medicine inside and avoid it running out. 

Now that you are all done, you can clean off the tip of the dropper by rinsing under water, and then cap it directly after use to store it for next time. After the medicine is away, wash your hands and take down the time that the medicine was delivered, before double checking the appropriate time for the next dose. It is critical to follow your pediatrician’s advice by using the drops correctly, at the right dosage, for the intended amount of time. With all of these steps done as prescribed, your child is likely to heal up in no time!

At Coastal Kids Pediatrics, we are passionate about helping your little ones feel well as soon as possible. We understand that learning how to give a child ear drops can feel intimidating at first and you might benefit from step by step, personal direction. Don’t hesitate to give your experienced Coastal Kids pediatrician a call for more advice, or any other help you might need. To call or make an appointment visit us at www.coastalkids.com