The visible part of the ear (the outer or external ear) is called the pinna or auricle, and just like a finger print, every ear is slightly different. The outer ear has its particular shape because of the folds in the thin plate of cartilage which lies within an envelope of skin. The cartilage is soft at birth and hardens with age. Whilst it is still soft, it can be moulded into a new shape which becomes permanent when the cartilage hardens - this is how EarBuddies™ work.
The gap between the back surface of the average adult ear and the side of the head is approximately 19mm. If an ear sticks out this much in a baby, then it would usually be thought to be 'prominent' or 'stick-out'. That said, all you are trying to do is prevent teasing or the need for surgery and if you, as a parent, feel that your child will be comfortable with their ears, then that is good enough.
The easiest way to monitor the progress is to take photographs from the front, the side and particularly from behind at regular intervals.
If you want to be more precise, the diagram below shows how to measure how much an ear sticks out.
Before splinting: If you are unsure if you need to splint, measure every week in babies under one month, every two weeks in babies under three months, and each month in babies older than this. This will help you to check if the ears are slowly drifting outwards, and to decide whether or not you should splint.
During splintage: If you want to precisely monitor the improvement in a stick-out ear since you started using EarBuddies, take the measurement before you begin splintage and then each time you change the tapes, as the ear will be temporarily freed from the side of the head.
After splinting: When you have finished splinting a stick-out ear, measure the prominence as soon as the splints are removed, then again 24 and 48 hours afterwards. If this measurement remains constant then it is likely that you have done enough. Sometimes, the ears can move out very slowly, so check again at 7 days, and if you are uncertain, it is best to persevere with splintage for a little longer to be sure of perfect ears.
Images are drawn and supplied by David Gault FRCS at EAR (Ear Aesthetics & Reconstruction). Images adapted by EarBuddies.