What Causes Toddlers to Cover Ears With Both Hands?

What causes toddlers to cover ears with both hands? This is a common concern faced by many parents. As parents are struggling to understand their toddler’s expressions, it is not easy to decipher such things. Though, mothers have a gifted sense to perceive what their child wants, yet sometimes things can be confusing. The solution in that case lies in analyzing the physical cues your child is giving which could have a deeper meaning.

What Causes Toddlers to Cover Ears with Both Hands?

What Causes Toddlers to Cover Ears with Both Hands?

There can be many factors that cause toddlers to cover ears with both hands. Covering both the ears with hands when feeling nervous or excited by your child every time could be more than what is being perceived. It could indicate a wide range of conditions right from hearing sensitivity to something as grave as early signs of autism!

Some of the Common Causes Include:

Sensitivity to Sound

Before you get bogged down with worries, it is important to understand what could be the root cause behind your toddler’s behavior. In many cases, parents believe it is some kind of hearing problem or sensitivity that is making their toddlers to cover ears with both their hands.

Yes, that could be a probable reason! Especially, if this behavior is getting prominent around chaotic noise or loud sound it could indicate a sensitivity to sound. Some toddlers are naturally sensitive to sound and get irritated or upset easily even with the slightest of stimuli. To avoid the situation then, they would first cover their ears with hands and simply try to run away from that place or surroundings. This is a natural reaction, which causes toddlers to cover ears with both hands.

Alternatively, toddlers can also do the same when they feel that the noise is threatening and they can block it away by simply covering their ears with hands. In such a case, it would be better to wait for them to get calmer than immediately making them remove their hands from their ears. Once patient, make the child understand about where the sound is coming from and why it is not threatening or should not be worried about.

Ear Infection

In case the child or the toddler is repeatedly doing it even in the absence of high sound, it could be due to ear infection. Pain or discomfort in the ears can make toddlers touch or cover their ears again and again or cry, as that’s the only way they can communicate.

Any chronic or acute infection in the ear can make the child face difficulty during eating, sleeping as well as hearing. Moreover, pain in the jaw or back teeth can also make the toddler cover both the ears as a reaction to it. It is better to seek medical advice at the earliest and get the toddler evaluated.

Discovering Serious Causes

If you have visited the pediatrician and have confirmed that it’s neither sensitivity to sound nor any case of ear infection, things need to be taken seriously. Try observing your toddler’s behavior around the day when they are playing, walking or simply eating. Is there something strange you notice in their day to day activities?


Autism is another factor that causes toddlers to cover ears with both hands and hence, must be evaluated for other signs too. Any child suffering from autism or any other disease of the similar spectrum such as Asperger disease can be sensitive to sounds. Such toddlers can cover their ear when they encounter any loud sound to simply block it away. It could be a vent out of irritation or feeling upset. Though, there are other key signs too that will come up when suffering from autism. These can include inability to socialize, make direct eye contact, feeling nervous in crowd etc.


A repeated ringing sensation in ears giving illusion of constant sound is characterized by a condition called tinnitus. It can happen to adults as well as children alike and can be one reason why your toddler is showing the unexpected behavior.

About 12 million people in the world have been reported to be suffering from the same with children constituting the 45 percent of the total figure. Toddlers with tinnitus sound in ears could feel irritated and in reaction try covering their ears with both his hands. Moreover, a second thought in the same context might be that a child fails to notice the discrepancy between normal sounds and considers it to be normal. That can be more detrimental as it would not indicate chances of early diagnosis. This is perhaps the reason why it is important to be speaking to toddlers regularly to observe how they respond and convey in the form of cues and gestures.

Continuous and long term tinnitus can be harmful for your child. It will not only be bad for their mental health but can also affect learning and normal life. However, the much needed news that will give you some relief is that tinnitus can be cured! When diagnosed early, it can be completely eliminated making your child lead a normal life once again.

With such behavioral cues, if you think of a possibility that your toddler might be suffering from tinnitus, do not delay in seeking a doctor’s help. Moreover, in case of any inflammation or an ear discharge too, the child should be immediately referred to the doctor without fail.


A toddler is not aware of the things around or how world works, hence they can suffer from unknown fear or anxiety. Covering ears with both the hands could simply be a reaction to stop or prevent unpleasant things to happen to them. This can happen in crowd, when at an unfamiliar place or around a stranger’s company or simply while encountering any new experience like school, day care etc. In such a scenario, it is important for the parents to stay close to their toddlers to calm them down and assure them that they are safe.

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:November 11, 2021

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