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Newborn and Infant Care

Nursing position and ear infections

09/23/1998

Question:

What is the evidence regarding any association of frequent ear infections and being breastfed while lying down? Any literature references to recommend?

Answer:

I was unable to find any references to the development of an ear infections and breastfeeding while lying down. If you are concerned about your baby getting an infection due to the position, you could cradle the baby's head on your lower arm while both of you are in a side lying position. Most ill infants are able to breastfeed easier than suck from a bottle; besides, the breast milk will provide the infant with antibodies to help fight the infection. If you think your baby has an ear infection, you need to take your baby to see his health care provider so treatment can begin if necessary. If the baby refuses to nurse you can give expressed milk on a spoon or cup, and offer the breast hourly. Babies with ear infections may find nursing painful (they will also find sucking from a bottle painful).

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Response by:

Tina   Weitkamp, RNC, MSN Tina Weitkamp, RNC, MSN
Associate Professor of Clinical Nursing
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati