When Does Baby Ear Cartilage Harden?

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When Does Baby Ear Cartilage Harden?

When a baby is born, their ears are soft and way more fragile than adults.

At this point, many parents wonder, when does baby ear cartilage harden? And the answer is between the sixth and seventh week of the newborn’s life. 

If you had a baby that was born prematurely, it will take a bit longer for cartilage to harden. If the baby has misshapen ears, it is preferable to use the ear molding method before the ear cartilage hardens. The recommended time for that would be in the third week after the birth.  

How do you fix a baby’s ear that sticks out?

There are two methods. One includes using ear molds to shape a baby’s ear, but if your baby is older than 7 weeks, it’s probably too late. 

The best way to fix a baby’s ear that sticks out is by using an ear mold. These molds make the shape of their ears more visible, giving you better insight into what type of tweak will work for them and alleviate pressure on other parts which could result in pain due to discomfort.

But, if your baby is older, let’s say one or two years old, don’t worry, there’s another way of solving it. Otoplasty is a surgical intervention that is also called or known as ear pinning. 

This doesn’t mean that the otoplasty can be done when the baby is as young as 7 weeks because the newborn’s ear cartilage is still soft and fragile. 

The earliest stage for performing the surgery is after the child turns five. But, have in mind that the recommended time to do the procedure is before the child turns seven. 

How long do babies wear ear molds?

When Does Baby Ear Cartilage Harden?

The molding process usually lasts six to eight weeks, but sometimes it can be longer or even shorter. The exact time will be determined by the baby’s doctor.

When the process starts, your baby will wear it 24h without taking the molds off, until the treatment is completed. There’s a chance that your doctor will recommend that your baby wear the molds while sleeping at night.

Each child is different, therefore it is imperative that you ask the advice of your doctor before continuing treatment. Remember that this procedure must be completed in order to avoid certain problems.

Do babies’ ears fold over when touched?

Baby’s ears are very fragile, and when they are born the ear cartilage is still fragile. As the child grows, the cartilage hardens and shapes the ear while supporting it. If it’s bent over when the baby is at its earliest stage, it has a folded appearance. 

The severity varies according to the gestation period and may improve slightly after one week after birth. A newborn’s ear will maintain this shape until about a day or two unless it is molded.

Ear lidding is not always symmetrical in both ears.  Although ear lids can be noticeable at birth or when the baby is a few days old they tend to improve during the first hours of the baby’s life. 

There are no particular times that babies’ ears become most obvious, but it tends to be most noticeable when the baby’s head is down and they are looking up towards you. This position elongates and tightens the skin around their ear and makes them stick out more than usual.

The phenomenon is generally painless and does not require any surgery if it’s treated in time. However, if there is an underlying condition causing ear lidding then intervention is required.

Do prominent ears get better with age?

When Does Baby Ear Cartilage Harden?

If your baby is born with prominent ears, they will not get better with age, unless you apply one of the methods. Luckily the percentage of babies born with folded ears has dropped drastically. Even though it’s not a problem to be worried about, it’s good that it is less represented. 

Although this condition can appear later after birth. The prominent ear can happen late in a baby’s life, usually in the first three months of life.

The lids will not become less visible as time goes by, and it’s good to think about applying one of the methods. However, there is nothing serious about having prominent ears, but it’s always better if they are not visible. If you notice this at birth, ask your doctor about what can be done.

Babies born with folded ears represent only 4% of the babies born nowadays in comparison to 14-18% some years ago. Unfortunately, prominent ears cannot get better when a child grows up, but they can be reshaped with surgery or using other methods.  

Will my baby grow into his big ears?

If a baby’s ear sticks out much when he or she is a baby, it is likely that the ears will stick out when the child becomes an adult. But, the belief about growing into its ears, is almost never correct.  

Doctors say the chances of a child’s ears sticking out after infancy is very rare, and it usually depends on how severely they stick out. If one or both of your baby’s ears are extremely protruding while he or she is still a baby, then there is a good chance that they will continue to grow into their adult years and eventually reach this way. 

Otherwise, the chances of them growing into their original shape is very low, but an exception can be made if your child’s ear growth stops at some point during his/her early childhood years (i.e., ages 5-9).


When does baby ear cartilage harden? This happens in the period of the 6th and 7th week after the birth. The ear cartilage is very fragile and soft when the baby is born so it takes time to harden. Even in this stage, it’s not firm as it will be in later life when the child grows up. 

If your baby has a problem with unshaped ears, there are a few ways you can fix that. Choosing the right method really depends on the baby’s age, and on the recommendation of the baby’s doctor as well. 

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My name is Catherine. I'm a Mom and one of the avid writers working on HerScoop!