In several cultures around the world, it is common practice for parents to have their babies’ ears pierced. For some, it is a controversial issue that involves ethical and medical issues.
On one side of the controversy are parents who refuse to have their little ones’ ears pierced based on the idea that is it non-consensual body modification.
On the other side, parents simply wish to save their child the memory of the pain of having it done – with the understanding that earrings can always be removed later in life.
And there are also those cultures, as mentioned, that do it out of cultural significance.
With no laws preventing parents from having their baby’s ears pierced, what is the right choice here?
If you’re teetering on the fence between getting your baby’s ears pierced and not, here is what you need to know to make an informed decision:
At What Age Can You Get A Baby’s Ears Pierced?
There is no specific recommendation out there for when you can get your baby’s ears pierced. However, you should always consult with your pediatrician on any potential associated with piercings.
Complications related to ear piercing are not age-specific and can happen to anyone young and old. Yet, many medical professionals will advise you to wait until your child is at least three months old and has had their tetanus vaccine.
Tetanus infections are not common and the risk of getting one from an ear piercing is small but it’s a proactive way to protect your child’s health.
When it comes to waiting for your child to be three months old, this is because if you pierce a newborn and they get an infection with a fever, they will have to be admitted to the hospital.
Ear Piercing for Babies and Safety
If you do decide to have your baby’s ears pierced, here are some safety considerations to keep in mind:
- Choose earrings that will not cause an allergic reaction such as hypoallergenic metals like sterling silver and gold.
- Make sure the equipment being used is sterile and that the person doing the piercing is qualified.
- Don’t change the earrings for at least six weeks. This allows the wound to heal first.
- Keep the area clean during the first six weeks to prevent infections.
If your little one does get an infection from the piercing, it’s important to know what signs to look out for. Watch for puss, pain, redness, and swelling for over 24 hours after piercing.
Other Considerations When Piercing Your Baby’s Ears
Some children are allergic to common earring materials such as gold and nickel. If you notice signs of an allergic reaction (swelling, redness, itching), remove the earrings immediately.
Also, do not pierce the ear cartilage of your baby – doing so puts your little one at a higher risk for infection.
Lastly, consider pain relief options for your baby since piercing the ear lobe can be painful. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist about pain medications appropriate for your child’s age.
What is the Right Decision?
Choosing to pierce your baby’s ears is a personal choice. There are no rules or laws that prevent you from doing so but you need to take all aspects into consideration.
Here are some things to think about before having your baby’s ears pierced:
- Are you okay with modifying their body without their consent?
- Are you okay with causing your baby short-term pain?
- Is ear piercing culturally significant to your family?
- Do you know anyone that regrets having their ears pierced as a baby?
Most of all, think about the reasons why you want to get your baby’s ears pierced. There’s no wrong answer here but it may give you some insight into whether or not this is the best decision for you and your child.
It also helps to hear both sides of the argument, so look into the reasons parents are giving as to why they won’t get their child’s ears pierced and why they will. These are two great articles to start with:
- Former Claire’s Employee Says Store’s Child Ear-Piercing Policy Is “Deeply Flawed”
- Piercing a child’s ears isn’t cruel so stop shaming moms
- The Risks of Infant Ear Piercing
By gathering information, you will be able to make an informed decision that best suits you and your baby.
Piercing Your Baby’s Ears
Like many parenting decisions we face, you are going to get everyone’s two cents no matter what you do.
Personally, as a mother, I don’t believe in child piercings if they are not culturally significant. I chose not to modify my daughter’s body without her consent.
However, I would never shame another parent who made a different decision. Inherently, having your baby’s ears pierced will not cause them lifelong trauma.
So go with the decision that feels best to you!