Treating Ear Infections in Children

Medically Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on February 19, 2024
1 min read

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.

  • 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.
  • 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.

Put a warm, damp washcloth or warm water bottle on the ear.

Don't place oils or other drops into the ear.

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