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What are those bumps behind my baby's ears?
Q: When I was giving my 5-month-old daughter a bath, I noticed she has bumps on the back of her neck, behind both ears. I don't know if it's her lymph nodes or what—should I get this checked out? She is cutting four teeth at once; might that be the cause?
A: Kimberly, it’s good that you’ve noticed your baby’s lymph nodes. The lymph nodes, sometimes also called “glands,” are part of the body’s system to fight off infections. You might feel these lymph nodes—like firm balls the size of peas—behind your child’s ears, at the back of her head, under her jaw, and in her armpits and groin.

It’s most common for young children to get swollen lymph nodes with minor illnesses such as colds, ear infections, and sore throats. Lymph nodes can also swell up when a child’s body is trying to heal cutting teeth or a skin rash. Usually, the swelling goes down within a week.

Sometimes, however, it’s difficult to know why babies’ lymph nodes are swollen, so it’s a good idea to have your pediatrician check your baby to make sure she doesn’t have an illness that needs to be treated.