If an ear sticks out or an obvious ear deformity remains 48 hours after birth: it should be splinted immediately. The earlier you begin, the shorter the splintage period, which is easier on both parent and baby. Please see our infographics below for more information.
If no obvious ear deformity is visible: it may still be necessary to splint. About a third of all ears which eventually stick out appeared to be normal at birth. It is common that they slowly drift out between birth and 6 months, and parents often say "we suddenly noticed the ears were sticking out, when they were fine at birth".
If you notice that the ears start to drift out: begin splintage as soon as possible. Ears are commonly pushed forward during breastfeeding, by a mattress, or by the head cosies of car seats and this contributes to the drift (see example). See how to monitor change in ear prominence here.
If you have a Family History of prominent ears: even if the ears haven't started to stick out yet, you should consider splinting from birth, as early splintage gives faster results, more easily.
If your baby has a hearing problem: early splintage is especially important, as a hearing aid may not stay in place if there is an ear deformity.
If your baby is older: early splintage is always best, but even starting as late as 18 months may not be too late, especially if baby is still breastfed, as this keeps the ear cartilage softer for longer. When EarBuddies™ were first introduced in 1995, we said that splintage was effective in babies of up to 6 months, but the results have consistently shown that splintage is effective in babies much older than this. We have had parents report success with splintage starting at 4 years old and independent research into splintage in Japan shows that it can be effective in much older children and even in teenagers. However, the level of success achievable is heavily dependent upon perseverance and we would only recommend that you begin using EarBuddies after your baby is 18 months if you are prepared to be very persistent.
To print a copy of this infographic, please click here. Images are supplied by kind permission of David Gault FRCS at EAR (Ear Aesthetics & Reconstruction).