For many parents, having a baby girl ahs them looking forward to all things girly. Big pink bows, pretty dresses, sparkly shoes, princess outfits and of course, pierced ears. In many parts of the world, ear piercing is done directly after birth, often in the hospital. However, in North America – piercing a baby’s ear is a matter of personal decision. Some parents cannot wait to do so, while others would rather wait until their daughter is old enough to ask to have their ears pierced.
So should you get your baby’s ears pierced at a young age? Are there any safety or health hazards that make early ear piercing dangerous? And, overall is it a good idea?
Certainly, there are some associated risks with piercing a baby’s ears. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, early piercing can lead to allergies to metal, which can lead to infections of the ear. If you do choose to have your infants ears pierced, you should ensure that the posts and parts of the earring touching the ear are made of stainless steel or at least 14K gold. Metal allergies will present themselves in the form of a rash around the ear and can even travel down the face and the neck. In this situation, pediatricians normally recommend removing the earrings and using Benadryl to control the allergic reactions. Since young babies have a weak immune system, these infections, and allergic reactions can turn serious in no time at all. One down side to piercing a baby’s ears is that they have very little muscle control, which means they will fiddle with and pull at the earrings – even ripping them out of the ear by accident, and this too can cause infection and secondary problems. If you wait till your child is older – you can instruct them to not touch the earrings. And, if an infant or baby accidentally removes the earrings – they can become a choking hazard.
Babies can also become fussy when sleeping as the piercings heal because of the discomfort involved after ear piercing, leading to colicky conditions. Ear piercing also comes with quite a bit of after care involved, which means parents have to be diligent about rotating the earrings and cleaning the ears – both front and back of the lobes – for several weeks after the piercing.
One thing that doctors DO recommend when considering ear piercing is to either use a facility that specializes in baby piercing, or ask if your doctor can do it. Some pediatricians can actually do the piercing in the office. Many ear-piercing centers located in malls or jewelry stores do not employ trained staff and may not be keeping the equipment clean enough from one customer to the next. You certainly want the most sterile environment if you plan to pierce your baby’s ears. Another good idea is to simply talk to your pediatrician about whether or not you can pierce your child’s ears. Some doctors may recommend that you wait until the baby is at least 4 months old – especially if there are any health concerns with the baby. While others will go ahead and give you the green light, and can even recommend safe places to have the procedure done.
Overall, the stance of the American Academy of Pediatrics is that there is no certain milestone age in which to pierce a baby’s ears. That being said, they do recommend waiting until a child can ASK for the piercing herself before doing so. This way, they can be involved in the care that is involved after wards, and can help to take care of the earrings themselves.
If you plan on piercing your baby’s ears, you may want to give them a dose of ibuprofen prior to the ear piercing, and in the few days after the piercing to ease the discomfort. The piercing itself is not more painful than a shot, and you need to choose a piercing provider that will do both ears at the same time in order to make it as comfortable as possible for your child.
Again, ear piercing is a personal choice. There are plenty of ways to ‘girlify’ your little princess without ear piercing. With so many cute headbands and bows, ear piercing is not really necessary. Many parents would rather wait until their child is old enough to ask, because essentially you are making a decision for your child that will last a lifetime. And, remember that if your baby has any problems with the ear piercing and you have to remove them – scar tissue can form in the lobes which can make ear piercing later in life more difficult and more prone to infection.
While mothers across North America debate this issue and liken it to giving a baby a tattoo (which is illegal), the decision you make is YOURS. If you are willing to put up with a little frustration and some extra work and feel strongly about having your baby’s ears pierced, then there really are no safety or health hazards to hold you back. Likewise, if you would prefer to wait until your child is older, and can request the piercing on their own, that too is perfectly fine. Just keep in mind that you are making a long term choice for your daughter, and that they will grow up fast enough without you rushing to do things before their due time.
Our experience of having our daughters’ ears pierced as babies has been very straightforward. I took both my daughters to have their ears pierced when they were three months old (as my parents did with me and my sister) and we have had no problems at all with them. They are now eleven and nine years old and love the fact that they have always worn earrings 24/7. All other mothers of daughters I have known who have taken their little ones to have their ears pierced at younger than six months have had no problems since they heal very quickly. Those who have left it till they are older seem to have had more problems. It is also easier if schools do not like girls (or boys!) wearing earrings since the holes will have healed completely by the time they go to school and earrings can be left out for days without the holes closing. I think baby girls are best having it done as young as possible and am not the only one who thinks this I am sure.
There seems to be a lot of discussion and various opinions expressed lately on the question ‘What is the best age for girls to have their ears pierced?’ The correct answer is between three and six months old. I know lots of baby girls have their ears pierced before three months but it is probably a little young. At the other end of the scale, over six months is leaving it a bit late as baby girls are more likely to fiddle with them and perhaps they will feel some pain when having it done. Our two daughters had them pierced at three months which my husband and I believe to be the perfect age. With both girls, I was able to breast feed them immediately after the studs were fitted which kept any slight crying to a few seconds only.