Parents and carers

Page last updated: 06 December 2013

We all want children to have a strong start to life. That’s why hearing is so important. When a child’s ears are healthy, they can:

  • learn language and talking;
  • listen to family stories;
  • listen to music;
  • talk with family and friends;
  • be good at school;
  • feel good about themselves; and
  • get a job later in life.

You can keep children’s ears healthy by getting them checked regularly by a health worker, nurse or doctor, even if they seem okay.

It is also important to know the symptoms of ear disease in case your child’s ears get sick.

Symptoms of ear disease

Young child with runny nose.

Signs of a cold

(coughing, sore throat, runny nose)

Young child pulling at ear, being held by carer.

Kids pulling ears

Young child with hand pressing her ear, indicating pain.

Pain in ear

Woman feeling baby’s forehead to check for a temperature.


Baby with runny fluid or pus from ear.

Runny fluid or pus

Young child pulling at her ear indicating trouble hearing and pain.

Can't hear properly

Young child refusing food.

Not eating

Older child holding a baby, using bib to clean spit up.

Diarrhoea or vomiting

Young child showing no symptoms of ear disease. Don’t forget kids can have ear disease with none of these symptoms. You can ask your nurse, health worker or doctor for an ear check at each visit.

Parents and carers can help prevent ear disease by:

Health professional checking young child’s ear.

Getting kids ears checked regularly.

Child eating an apple.

Feed kids healthy foods like fruit and vegetables.

Child washing hands.

Keep kids clean

(wash their hands and face regularly).

Young child having a vaccination from a health worker.

Make sure kids get all their vaccinations.

Young child blowing nose with tissue.

Get kids to blow their nose.

Woman holding and nurturing baby.

Breastfeed as it helps fight infection.

No smoking graphic.

Don't smoke around kids.

Woman cleaning child’s ear with cotton bud.

Don't stick anything in kids' ears,

(unless recommended by a health worker, nurse or doctor).

Fast facts - ear disease

Knowing the facts about ear disease is important.

  • Fact: Children are not born with ear infections but they can get an ear infection soon after birth.
  • Fact: Too many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have ear disease.
  • Fact: Ear disease can lead to loss of hearing forever.
  • Fact: Children can have ear disease with no symptoms.
  • Fact: Ear disease can be prevented and treated.