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How to give medicines: ear drops

This leaflet gives tips about how to give ear drops to children.  Leaflets on individual medicines are available on the Medicines for Children website.

This leaflet has been written specifically for parents and carers about the use of medicines in children. Please read this leaflet carefully. Keep it somewhere safe so that you can read it again.

Ear drops

Medicines for the ear are available as ear drops.

Before you give ear drops

  • Use the ear drops only in the affected ear, unless your doctor has told you to treat both ears.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water before and after giving the drops. 
  • You may need help from another adult to give ear drops to your child. One of you can hold the child still and one can give the drops. You may find it helpful to wrap a small child or baby in a blanket to help keep them still.

How to give ear drops

  • Shake the bottle and remove the cap.
  • Your child needs to have their head tilted to one side. (They could rest their head on a pillow.)Giving ear drops
  • Put the tip of the dropper just inside the ear hole. Try to avoid touching the nozzle on to the ear. Gently squeeze the drop(s) into the ear.
  • Your child should keep their head tilted to one side for a minute or so.
  • Wipe the nozzle with a clean tissue after each use.
  • If you think the drops didn’t go into the ear, you can repeat the process but do not try more than twice.
  • Try to avoid the tip of the bottle touching any part of your child’s ear if possible.
  • Wash your hands again with soap and hot water.
  • Repeat the above steps for the other ear if necessary.

Giving medicines

Medicines for children come in different forms. Tablets, caplets and liquid medicines are given orally (by mouth). There are medicines that are used in the eye, ear or nose, and inhalers for asthma medicines. Other medicines, such as suppositories or enemas, are given rectally (in the back passage, or bottom).

Watch videos and read leaflets to find out how to give your child different types of medicines.