Ear plugs for ear problems

"Our 13 month old daughter just had tubes put into her eardrums and we were instructed to place form-fitting plugs in her ears to keep water out whenever she took a bath or got into a water splashing situation. Our problem is that she refuses to let us do this, and/or if we succeed in getting them in, she won't stop trying to get them out. Any ideas on how to keep these in her ears?"

"Fortunately we haven't had to go to tubes. My suggestions would be as few shampoo's as possible with maybe another person helping control head turning and sponge baths out of a sink to bathe her."

"She probably hates not being able to hear - maybe it scares her to suddenly see lips move but no sounds from you. How about explaining to her that part of bath play time is putting ear plugs in the ears - and then put some in your ears while she has her's in?"

"There is no peaceful way I can think of to keep plugs in her ears at that age - my daughter certainly wouldn't tolerate it either! So my solution would be to get into the bath with her and keep the water level low to minimize any splashing. Or it may be necessary to revert to sponge baths until the tubes fall out. It sounds like your doctor hasn't had any recent day-to-day experience with a 13 month old! But perhaps another doctor in the group, or a staff nurse could advise you of alternatives that will work in the real world for children this young. We used cotton balls for our 4 year old's ears and they worked fine for that age, but a 13 month old may prefer to eat them!"

"How about cotton balls or a bathing cap? Maybe an alternative to the plugs. They may be uncomfortable to her."

"Our son had the same problem until we let him be in charge of the plugs. He took them out and put them away himself. We would put plugs in his ears and he put plugs in our ears and as long as they were in place, bath time continued. If he took out the plugs, bath time was over. We never punished him for taking a short bath, but made bath time a play time with various special things to do - shaving cream, popsicles or other messy food, special measuring containers for water, etc. Now the plugs are just a prelude to a fun bath time for him and us."

"We have a 4 1/2 year old and a 21 month old that both have tubes in their ears. We have learned that the plugs are uncomfortable. Our physician suggested using cotton balls and vaseline. This stops the water but is a softer material for little ones. We suggest you check with your physician regarding this alternative."

"Try letting her put them in herself. Explain to her why they will help her feel better. Try letting her watch you put them in your own ears. Let her put some in your ears or a doll's ears."

"Try to acknowledge her feelings of discomfort by saying things like `These feel funny in your ears', or `It's probably hard to hear', or `You wish you didn't have to wear these in the water'. Secondly, give her some control over the situation. Although she must wear them in `splashing situations', she could choose to have a sponge bath from the sink instead or have a shower with a watering can instead of running through the sprinkler. Help her play out her feelings with a doll that must wear the plugs before it goes into the tub. Since she is so young, all these things would have to be on a small scale with a lot of verbalizing by the adult. Good luck!"

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