toddler ear infectionI don't consider myself a nervous mom, but I definitely have found myself in the pediatrician's office, toddler daughter in tow, concerned that she had an ear infection. (Knock wood -- she hasn't had one yet!) The two occasions this has happened, it wound up being teething, but I could have sworn that the symptoms were different from the run-of-the-mill teeth pain we've become accustomed to in my house.

It's always a good idea to see your doctor if you think there's something wrong with your child, but here's a handy-dandy list of 6 tell-tale signs of an ear infection.

1. Cold symptoms. Ear infections are typically preceded by a cold of some sort. If your child's clear runny nose has turned yellow or green, he or she may have an ear infection setting in, and you should take her to the doctor. 

2. Fluid draining from the ear. This doesn't happen to everyone, but if you notice a whitish or yellowish pus draining from the ear, or even blood, it could be an ear infection with a ruptured ear drum. Yes, it's alarming, but it will heal once the infection is treated.

3. Fussiness or sudden increase in fussiness during a cold. Let's be honest: Toddlers are fussy a lot, but if there's a sharp or unusual turn in your child's fussiness, and they have another symptom, it's definitely worth a trip to the doctor to be safe.

4. Difficulty sleeping. If your toddler suddenly starts waking more frequently or refuses to lie down, it could be a sign of an ear infection. Lying flat can make an ear infection more painful.

5. Clumsiness and problems with balance. Children may become a bit more wobbly than usual if they have an ear infection, as the ear affects balance and equilibrium.

6. Reduced appetite. Ear infections often make it painful for a child to chew and swallow. If you notice your little one no longer wants to eat and drink the things he loves, might want to get him checked out.

Has your child ever had an ear infection?