My baby is always tugging at her ear. Does this mean she has an ear infection?

Not likely. Babies tug on their ears for a variety of reasons. Having a true ear infection is not typically one of them. So why is your adorable 5-month-old pulling on that ear like there's no tomorrow? The answer is simply because she can.

Babies this age are constantly discovering new things and they seem to reach a new milestone on a daily basis. Your 5-month-old has discovered those interesting appendages attached to the side of her head, and she can't resist!

That being said, some babies who are currently teething will pull on their ears. They are not great at localizing pain and will pull on those ears instead.

In the absence of other symptoms such as fever, increased crying, decreased appetite, difficulty sleeping, or obvious cold symptoms, ear pulling alone is not a reliable indicator of an ear infection.

However, whenever in doubt, always have your baby checked out by her pediatrician.


Medical Pro, Melissa Arca

Melissa Arca, M.D. is a board certified pediatrician, mom of two, writer, and blogger who has found her passion in writing and speaking about parenting and children's health. She realizes that parenting is not an exact science and offers her practical tips on handling common parenting dilemmas. In addition, she loves educating parents and children about their health and ways to improve it.

She authors a weekly Dr.Mom column in The Sacramento Bee and appears weekly on KCRA with Dr.Mom tips on a variety of pediatric health topics. Her blog, Confessions of a Dr.Mom, is truly the place where doctor and mom collide.

Dr. Arca received her undergraduate degree from UC Irvine and went on to obtain her medical degree from USC Keck School of Medicine. She completed her pediatric residency in 2003 from Children's Hospital Los Angeles and is a member of the AAP Council on Communication and Media.

She lives in Northern California with her husband and two children, ages 4 and 6. They visit the ocean any free chance they get.


My 3-year-old son constantly wakes up grumpy, both in the morning and after his daily nap. Sometimes, he'll cry inconsolably or throw a tantrum after he gets up. It's a challenge to get him dressed and start the day, because he's so disagreeable. I dread mornings! What's going on?

A well-rested child who wakes up cheerfully is a joy. But nearly every parent has experienced just the opposite: a child who is a bear in the morning. For young children, this problem has two likely causes: either temperament or overtiredness.

Some children are predisposed to wake up grumpy, and there's little you can do to change this personality trait (except to make sure they eat breakfast promptly, and do your best to stay out of their way until they cheer up). But more often, children who wake up severely cranky are severely overtired. When children wake before their sleep cycle is finished, they can become confused, disoriented, and unhappy, which translates into tantrums and irritability. In the words of sleep specialist Roslinde Collins, M.D., "Parents wonder why it's hard to get kids up after 8 hours of sleep — they aren't done sleeping yet!"

For happier mornings, move his bedtime earlier by 20 to 30 minutes per night until his morning mood improves. For more information on correcting overtiredness, see my recent blog post at The Well Rested Family.


Sleep Pro, Malia Jacobson

Malia Jacobson has been helping tired families sleep since 2007. She is a writer, editor, nationally-published sleep journalist, and author of "Ready, Set, Sleep: 50 Ways to Help Your Child Sleep, So You Can Sleep Too". Her sleep articles reach millions in respected print publications.

Malia's articles on sleep and health have appeared in over 50 publications, including Costco Connection Magazine, Seattle's Child Magazine, Calgary's Child, San Diego Family, Cincinnati Family, Baton Rouge Parents, New Jersey Family, and Staten Island Parent. She is a contributing writer at Family Time Magazine.

She holds a bachelor's degree in communication and a master's degree in business administration/marketing. When she's not writing, she organizes a popular attachment parenting group in her hometown of Tacoma, Washington, digs in her garden, and explores the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two young daughters.