Ears, like any other part of a human body, come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.
It is estimated that between 2 to 5% of the population has sticking-out ears.
This abnormality is usually inherited, like any physical trait.
But, around 30% of babies develop protruding ears in the first three months of their life.
Whilst it is not a medical condition and doesn’t affect hearing, BUT can cause significant psychological issues. These issues can emerge a few years later when the kids are teased or even bullied because of their ears.
So, what can be done to improve the appearance of my baby’s sticking out ears?
Read on to find out the 6 methods to correct your baby’s protruding ears.
How To Fix My Baby’s Ears That Stick Out?
Several options are available to correct sticking-out ears in young babies. These options range from wearing a baby bonnet and ear taping to fitting ear splints or moulds. The folding of ears that can occur during breastfeeding and sleeping should also be avoided to reduce the chance of developing protruding ears. For babies older than 6 months, the only available option to change the appearance of their ear is surgery. This can be performed once the child turns 5 years.
Should I correct my baby’s sticking-out ears?
For parents, their babies are impeccably gorgeous and the most adorable little reflection of their heritage.
Even if their ears appear to be a bit quirky.
So, many parents will consider protruding ears utterly cute and may want to leave them be.
Other parents will hope the deformity will get better on its own.
But if it doesn’t happen in the first week, it will stay like this or get worse…
Anyhow, it is worth looking at the bigger picture.
Funny-looking ears are certainly not an issue for a baby.
But fast forward 5 years, and when your baby starts school, her ears may become a target of teasing and bullying by her peers.
The trauma that this will cause your child will affect her self-esteem, social life, and academic life.
Thus, you should consider this factor when deciding whether or not to correct their ears.
If you decide to fix them, you should do it within the first few weeks of their life.
That’s because the cartilage of a newborn baby is very soft and plastic. This means it can be reshaped relatively easily and using non-surgical methods. By 6-7 weeks of age, the cartilage begins to harden. Hence it is best to start the ear treatment before this age.
Also, it is worth knowing that breastfeeding will keep the ear cartilage softer for a longer duration.
1. how to stop babies ears folding over when sleeping & Breastfeeding
If your baby suffers from protruding ears or you are afraid she may develop this defect, make sure her ears are never folded under the head. This can typically occur during nursing, sleeping, or wearing a hat.
This may lead to protruding ears as the cartilage hardens into this odd shape. Given that babies sleep and feed around the clock, the chances of developing protruding ears due to bending over the ear are high!
Therefore, the ears should always be kept close to the head to avoid deformation of their shape.
2. Baby Bonnet
Another way to deal with bat ears is to introduce your baby to a bonnet designed specifically for protruding ears.
A baby bonnet should be tight-fitting but not compress the baby’s skull. It should be adjustable and made of breathable, elastic mesh.
Such hats are designed to hold the ears close to the head and prevent folding over.
Nevertheless, you should consult your doctor before treating your baby’s protruding ears with a bonnet.
3. Medical Tape
Another solution is taping ears using medical tape. It is an old-fashioned method and is rarely used anymore.
However, there is still plenty of tape for protruding ears widely available to buy.
Therefore, I mention this as a possible option to complete the list.
So adhesive tape is used to hold an ear back against the side of the head.
The tape should not be fitted too loose – otherwise, it won’t work. If it’s fixed too tight, it may stretch a delicate baby’s skin and cause blisters.
Another disadvantage of this method is it won’t allow the skin to breathe and may cause irritation. Also, it may distort the shape of the rim of the ear by unfolding it and effectively causing more problems.
Because of these factors, the preferable and more effective method for fixing protruding ears is ear splints fixed with adhesive tape to the side of the head.
4. Ear splints
Ear splints are a commonly used non-surgical procedure for treating many ear deformities, including prominent ears.
It has a good track record of effectively and safely treating abnormal ears, with a 90% success rate.
Ear splints are pre-made soft and elastic medical devices. They are fixed to the cartilage by medical tape. By applying gentle pressure, they hold the ear in the desired shape.
They are widely available online and can be fitted by parents based on the fitting manual. However, it can be a fiddly and cumbersome procedure, so usually, they can opt for a professional fitting.
The length of treatment with splints depends on the baby’s age, the severity of ear deformation, and how soft the cartilage was when treatment started.
So, it can take between 2-8 weeks.
The general rule is – the earlier you begin the treatment of your baby’s ears, the shorter and more effective the treatment period should be.
The splints need to be kept in place for the duration of treatment. Thankfully, this treatment is painless and won’t cause any discomfort to the baby during sleeping either.
Ear splints come in one size. Therefore, they don’t always fit all babies. Even more so if the deformity is more complex or severe.
In such cases, custom-made ear moulding is recommended.
5. Custom ear moulding
Ear moulds are bespoke devices made of soft silicone and applied by a doctor to fit your baby’s specific condition.
And this is the main difference between the splints and ear moulding.
The working principle is exactly the same. A custom-made ear mould is used to correct the outer ear to the right shape.
The critical thing to remember is to seek the treatment as early as your baby’s ear appears deformed if you want to use the non-intrusive method of fixing the problem.
Good timing is during their first week of life when the cartilage is still soft and can be easily reshaped.
An Easy Fix for Misshapen Infant Ears | UCLA Vital Signs
Once your baby turns 6 months, the opportunity to correct protruding ears using a non-intrusive method is gone. That’s because the cartilage is now mature and cannot be easily adjusted.
Hence, your only option is to undergo otoplasty or pinnaplasty in order to correct this deformity.
There are many different surgical techniques of otoplasty to correct protruding ears. They have continually improved over the years.
But the final decision on what approach is the most appropriate for your baby’s case will go to the surgeon performing the correction.
Surgery can be scheduled the earliest around the age of 5. That’s when the ears have completed the majority of their growth.
Aside from being the most invasive method, otoplasty is also quite expensive! Therefore, early diagnosis and treatment of your baby’s ears are essential to avoid this method.
Final Few Lines
Sticking out ears is not a health issue but a purely aesthetic defect.
Often, these defects make a young baby look even cuter, so parents decide not to do anything about them.
Nevertheless, it may become a significant problem once your baby enters school age. Protruding ears may become a hot topic at school and your child a subject of teasing, which can cause psychological damage.
If protruding ears are diagnosed in the first few weeks of your baby’s life they can be treated by non-invasive methods such as ear splints or ear moulds. Other, less popular methods such as the baby bonnet and ear taping are also available.
Once your baby turns 6 months only surgery, called otoplasty, can correct the shape of the ears.
And finally, always consult your doctor before treating your baby’s sticking-out ears for the correct diagnosis and treatment.