Treating Ear Infections in Children

Medically Reviewed by Renee A. Alli, MD on November 05, 2019

Parents can often manage mild ear infections at home. For more severe infections, or if your child is under 2 years old, you may need prescription medication.

Call Doctor If:

  • Your baby has symptoms of an ear infection and is younger than 6 months.
  • Your child has symptoms of an ear infection along with a fever of 102 F or higher, inconsolable crying, severe pain, or other symptoms of concern.
  • You see ear drainage, the ear looks like it's sticking out, or there is swelling in front of the ear.

1. Use Child-Formula Pain Relievers

  • Call a pediatrician before giving your child an infant- or child-strength over-the-counter pain reliever for the first time.
  • Give children's-formula acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) if your child is older than 6 months. Follow the dosing instructions on the bottle or your pediatrician's suggestions.
  • Do not give aspirin to children under age 16.

2. Soothe the Ear

  • Put a warm washcloth or water bottle on the ear.

3. Observe Your Child

  • If symptoms seem to be getting worse, call a pediatrician. Your child may need further treatment.