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How To Clean Baby's Ears, Eyes, And Nose: A Parent's Guide

Updated on June 13, 2024
how_to_clean_baby_ears_1 - Mustela USA - 1

You’ve probably heard the old saying, “Don’t forget to wash behind your ears,” countless times growing up. But when it comes to your little one, cleaning their ears and face is a whole different ball game. That’s why we created this guide on how to clean baby ears, eyes, and noses.

You’ll learn why cleaning these parts is essential, plus discover some dangers of doing it improperly. We’ll also review the necessary supplies and provide tips for keeping your baby’s ears, eyes, and nose clean and healthy.

Table Of Contents

How To Clean Baby Ears: Supplies Needed

baby during bath time

Before cleaning your baby’s ears, you’ll want to gather the necessary supplies. These include:

If you want to wash your baby’s ears when they’re not already taking a bath, you can use No Rinse Cleansing Water instead of the regular cleanser. It’s a good option for when you’re traveling or away from the house.

How To Clean Baby Ears: Steps

Once you’ve gathered everything, it’s time to get started. Keep reading to learn how to clean baby ears.

Step 1: Position Your Baby Comfortably

The cleaning process will be more challenging if your little one isn’t in a comfortable position. Make sure they’re relaxed before you begin.

If you’re cleaning your baby’s ears as a part of their regular bath routine, you just need to be able to access their ears for part of the bath. Tilting their head to the side is usually sufficient.

If your baby’s ears need attention outside of bath time, try one of these options:

  • Hold them in your lap with one ear facing up
  • Lay them on a changing table and gently maneuver their face to the side
  • Have someone else hold your baby in a sitting position, giving you access to either side

You may want to experiment and see which one feels most natural. The key is to have unobstructed access to your little one’s ears.

Step 2: Clean The Outer Ear

The ear is made up of several parts. Some are visible, while others aren’t. You don’t want to clean too deeply, so focus on the visible bits, like the outer ear. This is where grime and spit-up can accumulate.

Put a small amount of cleanser on part of the cotton ball or washcloth. Then, gently wipe the outside of the ear. If you’re having trouble, use two fingers to hold the ear steady while you work.

For this step, clean:

  • Behind the ear
  • Underneath the skin fold at the top of the ear
  • The entire earlobe (including the back of it)

Use gentle, circular motions while cleaning. Don’t scrub hard; your baby’s skin is delicate. Once your baby’s skin is clean, carefully rinse off the cleanser. Then, do the other ear.

Note: If you’re using No-Rinse Cleansing Water, skip the rinsing bit and move right on to the next step.

Step 3: Gently Wipe The Inside Of The Ear

Now for the tricky part. It’s time to clean the inside of your baby’s ear. However, the goal is simple. You only want to clean any visible, unsightly wax or dirt.

No matter how tempted you may feel, do not stick anything down into the ear canal to remove earwax. It’s there for a reason; if you try to take it out, you can cause damage.

Instead, get your soft washcloth or cotton ball ready as before. Then, carefully wipe the inside part of the outer ear.

Once finished, use another part of the washcloth to remove any remaining cleanser. Then, pat the ear dry. You don’t want to leave any moisture behind, as this can lead to irritation or infection.

How To Clean Your Baby’s Eyes

Baby during bath time while parents learn how to clean baby ears

Another part of your baby’s face that sometimes needs to be cleaned is their eyes. Occasionally, they may wake up with gunk in the corners or crustiness around the eyelashes.

Keeping their eyes clean can help prevent infection or discomfort. But, like with the ears, there’s danger in using the wrong product or being too rough.

Here’s how to properly clean your baby’s eyes.

Supplies Needed

  • Boiled water that’s cooled down
  • Cotton washcloth or cotton ball

Steps To Clean Your Baby’s Eyes

Start by washing your hands. You don’t want to introduce new bacteria or irritants to this sensitive area.

Next, soak the cotton washcloth or ball in the cooled water and wring it out so it’s not dripping. Then, gently wipe your baby’s eye from the inside corner to the outside corner, being careful not to touch their eyeballs. You can also wipe their eyelashes from the bottom to the top.

Once finished, pat the area dry with a soft towel or a dry cotton ball.

How To Clean Your Baby’s Nose

Mom learning how to clean baby ears

Cleaning your baby’s nose helps prevent congestion, discomfort, or infection. As with the ear, you’ll focus on cleaning the outside, not the inside.

Supplies Needed

Steps To Clean Your Baby’s Nose

While your baby is in the bath, use warm water and a gentle cleanser to wipe around their nose with a washcloth. Take care not to go into their nostrils. Then, pat the area dry.

If you need to clean their nose outside their regular bath time, use No Rinse Soothing Cleansing Water instead.

After their nose is dry, apply a small amount of facial cream to help prevent dry skin.

Baby Ear And Face Cleaning Safety Tips

baby in sink for bath time

Now that you know how to clean your baby's delicate face and ears, let’s review a few essential safety precautions.

Never Put Anything Into The Ear Canal

This cannot be stressed enough. As we mentioned, the ear canal is a sensitive area that you shouldn’t mess with. The eardrum is in there; if you bump that, it hurts. Plus, going in too far can cause permanent damage to your child’s hearing.

So, don’t put anything into your baby’s ear canal: no fingers, no car keys, no cotton swabs, nothing.

Avoid Using Cotton Swabs

Most people have probably used a Q-tip or a cotton swab to clean their ears before. While they seem like handy tools for the job, they can cause more harm than good. That’s why cotton swab boxes have a warning not to insert them into the ear canal.

Here’s the problem with sticking cotton swabs into your ears:

  • The fluff can come off and get stuck inside your ear canal
  • You can push earwax deeper and cause blockages (or even perforate the eardrum)
  • You can easily damage the delicate skin by pushing too hard

If you want to use cotton swabs, only use them on the outside of the ear.

Keep Your Little One’s Skin Moisturized

The skin in and around your baby’s outer ear and nose is delicate. To keep these parts soft and supple, make sure to moisturize regularly. Use a bit of baby oil or your favorite gentle hydrating product.

Put a drop of product on your finger and gently rub it around the outside of your baby’s ear or nose to help prevent peeling, cracking, and other signs of dry skin.

Use Baby-Safe Products

When cleaning your baby, choose gentle products like Mustela's. Our product line is specially formulated for the whole family, including babies and children. We work with pediatricians and dermatologists to ensure they’re safe and effective.

Our products don’t contain:

  • Parabens
  • Phthalates
  • Phenoxyethanol

Instead of harsh chemicals, we use naturally derived ingredients, like Jojoba oil, Calendula, and Avocado Perseose, that are gentle on your baby’s skin.

Know When To Call The Doctor

While you can often care for your baby’s ears, eyes, and nose on your own, a few signs may indicate an infection or another issue needing medical attention.

These include:

  • Persistent itching
  • Redness and swelling in the outer ear or eyes
  • An unpleasant smell coming from the nose
  • Discharge from the ear canal (can be a sign of a ruptured eardrum)
  • Pain in any of these areas
  • Eyelids “glued” shut with gunk
  • Excessive earwax that leads to muffled hearing
  • Hearing loss

If you notice any of these symptoms or if your little one continually pulls on one of their ears, it’s best to consult your pediatrician for further advice. They can provide a proper diagnosis and take care of any treatment.

Clean Your Baby From Head To Toe With Mustela!

Mom holding baby after bath time

Learning how to clean baby ears, eyes, and nose is a critical part of newborn care. While it may initially seem intimidating, following the proper techniques and using gentle products from Mustela can make the process simple and safe.

From gentle shampoos and body washes to moisturizing creams and lotions, we offer a full range of products to keep your baby clean and comfortable from head to toe!

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