Infant Ear Piercing: What would you do?

OK, I am going to put this out there, mostly because I am trying to sort out my feelings on the subject but also because I am curious as to what others’ opinions are on the subject of infant ear piercing. For many years I have been against ear piercing for infants. I had many reasons behind this belief and I often felt sorry for those poor baby girls who’s ears had been pierced against their will. But I will be the first to admit that my feelings have changed on many issues over the years and I am starting to wonder if this too, is one of them.

First of all, I am finding myself obsessed with the idea. I am always on the look out for happy and adorable baby girls with pierced ears, not to criticize, but to admire. Since practically the day my daughter was born I have imagined her with pierced ears but keep talking myself out of it because, for heaven’s sake, I don’t believe in it! Honestly now there is one big reason that has been holding me back. Allergies. I myself had a terrible reaction to my own ear piercings and I worry the same might happen to her. I mentioned this to someone and they told me that true surgical steel is non-allergenic. Is that true? Ever since I heard that, piercing Virginina’s ears is on my mind constantly and I just can’t decide what to do!

Pros to early piercing
Cleanliness: It’s a lot easier to keep a baby’s ears clean and to make sure they heal properly. A little girl might forget and so might an older girl.
Less Chance of infection because it’s easier to keep them clean.
Cuteness: She will look like a sweet little girl and will always look dressed up without having to wear bows, hats and hairbands all the time.
Mom and Daughter bonding: She will get to participate when her older sister and mom go out on a girl’s day and shop at Claire’s

Cons to early piercing
It hurts
It could cause an allergic reaction and the holes would have to close anyway.
People might judge me (sad but that is definitely one thing that holds me back)
Child has no choice in the matter

I plan to pierce them eventually anyway. Is earlier better than later? What do you think?

January 16, 2009 - 7:59 am Vanessa - Hi Tammy! I was the same way...used to think never never never. Til I had my daughter then I was like...awwwww its so cute! Unfortunately my husband says NO absolutely not. Even my dad who refused to let me have my ears pierced until I was 8 has asked me if Im going to get earring for my daugter! But,now, she is 2 and the pain part is definitely an issue so I will have to wait until she is older and can process why someone is stabbing her little ears! My answer, or opinion therefore....either do it now when she is too little to remember or hold it against you, or wait until she is old enough to understand the pain and not hold it against you :) Does that make sense....and definitely dont worry about people judging you (although I completely understand those feelings!) I think she would soooooo cute with little earrings!

January 16, 2009 - 9:39 am Heather - I did not have any of my girls ears pierced as babies. We just wanted them to make their own desicion on whether to put holes in their bodies. When they were 5 years old we gave them the choice at that age also they get very excited about it. Although Kaitlyn didnt' feel she was ready until 7. Kaitlyn has severe allergies of alot of thing easrrings are one of them. She can't wear even gold. But recently we have found she can wear sterling silver just fine. I don't think anything bad of people who decide to do the baby piercing it just wasn't for us. Also one thing to consider, my neighbors 2 year old ripped one of hers out and now will have a big scare.

January 16, 2009 - 9:52 am Lorri - We had Chloe's done when she was 5. She wanted them and begged for them. After about 7 times of going to the store to get them done and her crying and refusing, I actually forced her (with bribery). I was tired of the back and forth and knew she really wanted them. For me...I would not pierce a infants ears. That's just me though. I was the mama who started sobbing when her year old baby girl got bit at a playgroup (not yours!!). I cringe when I see them getting it done..the unsuspecting infant, but really...it's no more painful than a shot. I've also stood there....watching....and the baby always calms down with a few momma kisses and then has these pretty pink earrings in her ears. I agree that if you don't get them done as a baby (young enough to forget they are there...or even start pulling on them) then you'll have to wait until you feel they are ready. I agree. V will look so very cute with earrings in those precious ears.

January 16, 2009 - 1:51 pm Kim - I had Tristyn's done when she was about 2 years old. She always poited out peoples earrings and asked for earrings. It was not fun.....she was VERY upset after and it took lots of ice cream, hugs and kisses to get her to relax again. She was not good about letting me clean them either. A, on the other hand, was 7 months and cried for all of 10 seconds then started smiling and laughing again. It has been super easy to keep her ears clean and she doesn't mess with them at all. I think Vee would look absolutely adorable with them and wouldn't worry what others think about it. No matter what you do in life, there are people that are going to look down on you for one thing or another.

January 16, 2009 - 2:25 pm Kelly - Well Tam, I had Kailey's done when she was about 3 months old. Mine were done by my pediatrician when I was only a few weeks old. I had the same pros and cons list you have.....the pros won and she hasn't had any problems! She does have to buy the hypoallergenic earrings at Claires though. When she got older and wanted to start changing earrings we noticed some redness with "cheap" earrings worn over a long period of time. Never had issues with the piercing studs or the sleepers (small hoops that close into themselves so no stabbing from posts when they sleep in them) I bought when she was a toddler. HTH & good luck with whatever you decide!

January 16, 2009 - 2:46 pm Yamile - Well, I'm not very objective about this topic because of my background. In Latin America baby girls get their ears pierced before they go home from the hospital right after they're born. I did, so did my sister and all my sisters-in-law. With Maga we waited until she was 2 months old. No problems at all, until she had a bad allergic reaction to milk and developed a rash all over her body, including her ears. I just took the earrings off for a few months, and she never had another problem. With Areli, I asked our family doctor (at Areli's newborn check-up when she was 3 days old) if she would pierce Areli's ears, and she said she didn't have a problem, but that it would be less painful at Claire's since they have the little earring gun. Areli was 5 weeks old, and I nursed her while they pierced her ears. She didn't even cry. Like I said, I'm very biased towards pierced ears. It's part of our culture, so in my case, I didn't even think of the cons. A fun fact about pierced ears: Did you know in hispanic culture the piercing of ears was (as say was because nowadays people usually don't know this) a symbol of opening one's ears to the word of God? Good luck with your decision. And sorry I haven't emailed back about the appointment for our family picture. We've had some crazy days here ;)

January 16, 2009 - 5:07 pm Amy Swor - Admittedly, I know a lot of people have strong feelings when to pierce a child's ear. "Let them decide" is being replaced by parental decision when mommy intuition knows, "earlier is better" from either personal or friend's experiences of unpleasant childhood ear piercing. I think it just depends on your own personal choice whether or not you wish your baby or little girl to have pierced ears. Some feel perceived gender of their child is important while others find it a cultural tradition where all infant girls have pierced ears. I pierced our oldest daughter's ears when she was two months old and our youngest at just days old. We found an experienced individual where they specialized in infant piercing. My advice is to do them one at a time to insure they are perfectly centered. This may take 15 seconds longer, but will make sure they are not crooked later in life. Our oldest daughter just turned two and has never had an infection, pulled them out, and she's never even played with her earrings (which is amazing in my book). My mom pierced my ears when I was 2 weeks old as and I've loved it....I think earrings on little girls are adorable! If you don't know how she'd look at any age, then hold up a pair of your studs to each ear and decide for yourself. Many moms including myself like the look of earrings on babies and little girls for no specific reason, but like how light plays off a simple gold ball on a bald baby girl or small gold hoop poking through the hair of a toddler. Cerebrally, as mothers of girls of all ages, we know it celebrates their femaleness and femininity. After all, they are little girls, right? Growing up I remember many of my little girlfriends were not allowed to get their ears pierced. I could never understand it...but when their parents did finally let them, it always seemed they'd get infected because they were constantly touching them or trying to change out the earrings before they were supposed to. Many said it was painful, but all cried having a great deal of angst leading up to and including the actual ear piercing. To each their own but I think the earlier the easier. If we have another girl, I will pierce her ears early as well. I took my youngest DD at days old after I asked our pediatrician and she encouraged me to go ahead before she aware of her surrounding or developed a pincer grip to play with her ears. She gave me some suggestions for moms having their daughter's ears pierced. They seem to apply to all ages. Tam or any other moms wishes them, don't hesitate to write me an e-mail and I will send them to you. Just when is the best time to pierce your daughter's ears? It is when you are ready to care for them during the healing phase. They are very easy to care for. If you decide to do it as a newborn or infant, then I promise she'll thank you later! Amy amyswor@hotmail.com

January 16, 2009 - 11:10 pm LinZi - I have actually found that I am allergic to "true" stainless-steel. I first got my ears pierced when I was 7 in gold, and my ears where fine. Then in high school I decided to get second holes in my ears.I got them pierced in regular stainless steel and my ears got very infected. I ended up having to take the earrings out and later I got them pierced in gold and there were fine. (At that time, I thought it was just bad luck, not stainless steel). Then in college I got my nose pierced in surgical quality stainless steel (from a RN) and it got SUPER infected and I got a keloid (raised bump) on my nose. I had to have it taken out and drained (Gross, I know, and also very very painful). Luckily I only have a tiny scar from it.. but it shows that some people can still be allergic to 'hypoallergenic' metals. Additionally, I would argue that you should wait until she is a bit older and see if she is interested in ear piercing. I remember how special it was to go get my ears pierced when I was 7. I had really wanted to get them pierced and it was a very special memory for me!

January 17, 2009 - 5:53 am julie - Mainly my opinions are formed by my knowledge of piercing. I have been piercing professionally since 1996. The biggest "con" you must consider is that ear piercing guns are not safe. There is no way to sterilize an ear piercing gun. Sterilization can only be acheived by a degree of heat and pressure that would destroy a piercing gun. (The alcohol swab they wipe the gun down with is just moving germs around!) Google 'hepatitis piercing gun' and you will never want one of those devices near your baby (or anyone else)! The only safe way to be pierced is by a known professional that will use a sterile needle that is disposed of after each use. No one would do this to a baby, as the baby could move unpredicably and be harmed by the needle. But it is fast nd virtually painless and even children as young as 7 never ever cry or even say "ow" when I pierce their ears this way. Also, if you are pierced by a professional, they will have the proper 316lvacuum melted surgical stainless steel &/or titanium &/or nickel free gold that will ensure no chance of allergic reaction! On a personal note, I don't think we should physically alter our children without their consent.

January 18, 2009 - 12:42 am Caitlin - Hi! I am a huge fan of your blog. I recently discovered it (through adoption blogs that I follow). You are a FABULOUS photographer and you have such gorgeous children (all with really nice names)! Anyway, I wanted to post a reply to this question because I had my ears pierced when I was about three months old. Even though I grew up to be a huge tom boy, I still was very thankful that my mother chose to pierce my ears. When I became a preteen and grew out of my boyish ways I actually wanted to wear earrings. Many of my friends were too scared to get their ears pierced! I never had to experience that anxiety and fear of pain and of course, even though I am sure it hurt at the time I have no memory of it. If your daughter decides that she doesn't want earrings later on in life, she can simply take them out! I was glad my mother did it for me!

January 18, 2009 - 8:30 pm Sara - I'll tell you my experience and then my thoughts. I had my ears pierced when I was really young. Even with my mom taking care of them I got a massive infection. The also didn't heal very well when I first got them done and apparently I couldn't sleep on my sides for months. They took my earrings out and they healed up leaving a lot of scar tissue. That bothered me when I was older so I got them redone. I also got a second pair of earrings and had to have one of them redone because it got too close to all the old scar tissue. The other one "migrated" out. My body just totally rejected it. It looks horrible - all scarred and gross. I rarely if ever wear earrings, it's painful, and I wish I had never had them done. That said, I know not all people will have this experience but it always leaves a hole, always leaves a scars, and it's always painful. She might not want them done and I think that CHOICE needs to be the highest of importance. My girls pick out fun earrings and jewelry all the time and don't have their ears pierced. I'm always open to the day when my girls are older and make an informed decision about getting it done and we can go out an have a bonding moment without them crying ;)

January 22, 2009 - 10:21 pm Robin Dodd - Hey there Tammy!! I emailed you so long ago about Photoshop and babies. LOL!! I love your blog and added to my blogroll. I absolutely love your banner with the kids and the pics of your baby girl! Since we've emailed, I've gotten a real website, adopted two little girls from Ghana and have gone full time as a photographer. Whew... it's a learning experience everyday, but truly fun, I don't know how you do it with six!! My hat goes off to you! Of course I don't know what I'm talking about, I already ready for a couple little boys in our world to add to our three girls!! Anyway, just stopping by to say hi!!!!!!! Have to read your blog and catch up : )

January 25, 2009 - 7:04 pm Helenes Dreams - Hi! Nice blog here! From my own experiences, I have had my ears pierced since I was tiny like weeks old I think. My mother is Asian and this is our culture. I have felt no pain and no problems growing up with pierced ears. They have always been a part of who I am. I still have the same pierced holes from day one..and I am 38 now. My daughter was 3 years old when she had her ears pierced and it was her very own choice. She had a friend with pierced ears and wanted it too. Believe it or not my daughter loves fashion and clothes. I can't believe it sometimes. She has had no problems either. So long as she wears hoops and not posts, we don't experience too many problems. I think its all personal preference. Whatever works and floats the boat, you know. Of course earrings enhance the beauty..of anyone..including children in my opinion. But you have to be comfortable with idea of it..but the pain is not that big of deal. If my 3 year old could do it then I would think most people can do it. Most boys endure circumcision at young ages and they don't have a choice most of the time. Now that looks like it hurts..don't you think?

February 27, 2009 - 10:49 am Pam - My husband and I agreed to have our daughter's ears pierced when she was three moths old -all has gone fine and we are really glad we did. She is now four years old and loves her earrings. Since our daughter was born we have had two sons so the ear piercing issue does not arise.

March 11, 2009 - 10:18 pm Dee - Tonight I saw that my son just had both ears of his son (6) and his daughter (9 months) pierced. I was sick. The words that came to me - "white trash." The kids were precious without these tacky rhinestones. I fear for the reaction they get from their teachers, coaches, and others. It started already. My grandson's coach required him to wear masking tape over his ears at his sports practice tonight - said it was a safety hazard. You might not care about the reaction of others but your kids might suffer from the reaction.

August 6, 2009 - 9:43 am Amanda - I am struggling with this too. Was totally against it until my daughter (close to 2 1/2) ASKED repeatedly to have hers done. And I know that if she gets them done her younger sister (18 months)will want to as well. Decisions, decisions.

May 22, 2011 - 9:26 am Sarah - My mom had my doctor pierce my ears in the hospital when I was only 2 days old. It's always been a story I'm very proud of, and I plan to have my daughter's ears pierced as early as possible, as well. However, I would be interested to know if there is anyone out there whose parents pierced their ears at a young age and they wish they hadn't...? My experience was positive, but I wonder if there are women who really wish their mother had allowed them to make their own choice...? For me, I think it was the right choice - I tried to have a second hole put in my ears as a teenager, and it would never stay open for more than a few weeks, but I have NO ISSUES at all with my original holes.

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