What Could It Mean If Your Baby’s Ears Smell?

What are babies supposed to smell like? Is there a specific smell associated with babies? It all depends on who you ask and how they go about taking care of their babies. There is no universal baby smell that yours has to have.

Different parts of a baby are believed to has distinct smells. Is it true? Mine seems to defy this theory. However, some smell from your baby is just unacceptable. Take the case of your baby’s ears. Have you ever experienced a case in which a baby’s ears smell? Whether your baby or not?

Some of this smell normally just requires a simple bathing and cleaning to eliminate. Sometimes, this is not the case. It could be a pointer to a deeper lying problem/health issue with your baby that needs immediate attention.

Stay with us and find out if the smell from your baby’s ears could mean something is up or if your bundle of joy just needs some scrubbing.

Causes Of Smelly Ears In Babies

The causes of smelly ears in your baby can be due to a number of reasons. Some of these are due to simple parental negligence (forgive me for being so hard on you) or just normal processes that your baby has to grow her way through.

The most common reasons are ear infections and excess moisture in his ears.

1.Excess Moisture In The Ears

My favorite time of parenting? Bath time of course. This is of course for you and not the baby. Babies hate being bathed. If yours loves being bathed then maybe we could swap for a couple of months. It is during this time that moisture remains on him if care is not taken.

During the process, you scrub all the body parts with soap, from the head to toes, leaving no “stones unturned” quite literally. Then you rinse him with lukewarm water and finally dry him properly. This is one of the parental tips that you are quite aware of.

In the process of drying the baby, once in a while you may forget to dry the moisture in some hidden parts like the back of the ear or the ear canal. If it occurs that in subsequent baths you forget to dry the hidden moisture, the dampness forms a fancy breeding ground for bacteria. This will lead to a foul smell from the ears.

2.Ear Infection

This is basically the lead cause of the foul smell coming from most of the babies’ ears. No matter how concise you are with your baby, there comes a time when he comes down with an infection. One of those is likely to cause a smelly ear in one way or another. Here are some of the infections you will have to watch out for.

  • Otitis Media:

This ear infection occurs when a cold results in the swelling of the Eustachian tube (this is a part of the ear). The swollen tube causes the accumulation of fluids (washing water that accidentally enters the ear canal) and mucus. These fluids are prevented from flowing to the middle ear which is connected to the back of the nose as well as the throat.

This warm and dark place forms a breeding ground for germs. As the situation worsens, the accumulated fluids begin to produce a foul smell and may begin to discharge from the outer ear if left unattended to for very long. The baby also develops fever as his body struggles to fight the infection.

  • Throat Or Nasal Problems:

In the anatomy of the human ear, the throat, ears and the nose are interconnected. It is made in such a way that fluids that enter through either way can find its way to the stomach at some point. Any infection that affects one of these parts of the baby can grow to the baby’s ear. This results in the foul smell you feel at times.

  • Allergic Reactions:

Babies are not prone to allergens exposure since you rarely let them leave the house. This does not, however, give them a safe passage when it comes to allergic reactions. Pet hair, dust and dirt can still result in various allergic reactions in the baby.

Allergic reactions are always a result of the body combating threats that it deems harmful. In the process, histamine hormones are released. This hormone increases the mucus production in various parts of the body.

This mucus causes the clogging of the Eustachian tube if it finds its way through via the interconnecting ducts. Fluids then accumulate, causing germs to thrive there. A bad odor ensues in the process.

Symptoms Of Ear Infections

Pulling Of Ears

The pain that comes with various ear infections makes him want to scratch the ears and pull on them more. This grabbing and tagging of ears is accompanied by some discomfort in the baby. This type of ear pulling should be distinguishable from the normal baby play behavior.

Thick Whitish Or Yellowish Ear Discharge

Although not common (and you would not let it get this far, wouldn’t you?), it indicates the presence of an infection in the ear. The discharge normally disappears ones the infection has been treated.

Unpleasant Smell From The Ears

Yes, you guessed it right. A foul smell from the ears is definitely as a result of an ear infection. Or why would the baby’s ear smell anyway?

Difficulty In Sleeping

The painful infection can be discomforting especially when the bay lies down. The infections could be the reason your baby can’t sleep at night.

Changes In Hearing

Just as the mother hears what the baby does not say, a baby also hears some of the things mummy and daddy tell them. Ear infections will impede the ability to hear as the ear canals get clogged with fluids and bacteria.

My Baby Could Be Having An Ear Infection, What Should I Do?

If you’re your bundle of joy shows any of the above symptoms, then you need to take certain corrective action before things get out of hand.

  • Let things take their own cause. Most of the cases of ear infections subside on their own after some time. If the baby is not in any pain, the smell will disappear after some time.
  • If the condition worsens, then call a doctor or take your bundle of joy for a visit to the doctor. The doctor would then examine the baby’s ears for any infections. If present, he will prescribe for you a medication or advise you to follow the wait and see approach.
  • Antibiotics are not advised for use in babies or even adults. They cause gene mutations that cause resistant infections.

Prevention Is Better Than Cure

The best way of curing ear infections is by ensuring they never occur in the first place (smart ha!). Always ensure proper hygienic practices when handling the baby. Washing hands (the baby’s too) is just one of the numerous ways.

Always ensure the baby is breastfed up to six months if possible. His vaccination should also be kept current. All these will work to prevent the occurrence of infections in the baby. You could also ensure you properly dry the baby after baths.


Do your baby’s ears smell? Now you have more information regarding the whole issue. It is not a contagious condition and should not prevent your baby from having all the fun he deserves. It is something that is common and will most likely disappear by itself after a while.

If you do want to take any chances, a visit to the doctor will be in order. Either a prescription for ear droppings, medication or “wait and see” should cure the condition.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this article. You must have also been well informed of what could be troubling your bundle of joy. As always, feel free to drop any comments, questions and suggestions below. We value your feedback.

Kristi Cathey

Hi everyone! My name is Kristi Cathey and I’m glad you found your way to my blog. I am a mother of 3 beautiful angels. This blog was created in order to share my personal experiences in baby care and general health care for pregnant women. If you'd like to get in touch with me, please contact me by sending me an email via kristicathey.intelligentmother@gmail.com. Welcome to Intelligentmother.com

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