In general, most parents are worried about ear infections in kids. There are inner, middle, and outer ear infections and this blog is referring to mostly middle ear infections.
Most middle ear infections are viral and will resolve themselves but that doesn't help the worried parent watching their child suffer in pain. So I will tell you the tricks used by many parents to avoid the need to see the doctor.
During summer time with swimming pools, the outer ear or swimmer's ear infection is more common. Just tug on the ear and if it hurts, it is probably swimmer's ear. You can use colloidal silver ear drops or mullein garlic ear drops and that can often do the trick. Best is to do prevention with a little alcohol in the ear after swimming to dry up the ear.
If that is not the issue and they are complaining of pain, then it may be a middle ear infection. With my kids, I would do the wet sock trick, colloidal silver or mullein garlic ear drops, and a trip to your favorite chiropractor. I was trained that chiropractic care is craziness but apparently craziness works wonders. I have had very few kids that failed that with middle ear infections. Response is fast and typically within a few hours.
If your child has sudden onset of pain with the ear infection, then homeopathic belladonna can work fast. They are in the little blue tubes at your health food store. Use three sugar pellets every 15 minutes up to two hours. If better, then continue as needed for pain. If it doesn't help, then sorry. At least you didn't waste much money or time. They probably need another remedy so see your favorite homeopath. I have two great ones that I adore. When it works, it will work like magic!
Try the natural remedies first and reserve the motrin for failure of those to work and if your child has a lot of pain.
If things are still not getting better after a few days, then come see me. Kids are more likely to be given antibiotics if you see the doctor too soon but this is not really good for their overall health and will likely lead to repeat illness. Antibiotics are a God send when you need them as a last resort.
Recurrent ear infections are typically related to food allergies. Most common are dairy and soy allergies so stop that in the kiddo or breastfeeding mom. I would combine that plus chiropractic or craniosacral therapy. If that isn't enough, your child may need more functional medicine approach to correct the underlying dysfunction.