Everything You Need to Know Before Piercing Your Baby's Ears
As a mother of two young girls with pierced ears, I figured there’s no time like the present to outline what ear piercing entails when it comes to babies, toddlers, and older kids. Thinking about piercing your child’s ears? Here’s an A-Z guide on what to expect, what you should look for in a piercer, and why the decision to pierce baby’s ears (or not) isn’t anyone’s business but your own.
Thomas Woodsum RMA, is the Clinical Tech/Manager at Universal Pediatric Associates in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Woodsum does ear piercings on-site and has pierced the ears of numerous young patients and non-patients (meaning children who see a different pediatrician but were brought in by a parent solely for ear piercing.) He shares his thoughts about ear piercing...
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How often do you pierce kid's ears?
On average, we do about 35 to 40 piercings per month, with the youngest being two months of age. We require the first set of immunizations to be administered as well. (Meaning: Woodsum and team pierce the ears of vaccinated kids; so bring in your kid’s immunization card if it’s requested. The doctor who pierced my daughter’s ears requested this as well.)
What are the main things hesitant parents should know about piercing their kids ears?
- A “full heal” meaning the ear piercing is permanent can take anywhere from 4 to 12 months.
- Ages two to five are the most difficult to pierce. They are old enough to want the earring but not always old enough to understand the process.
- Grade-school-age children are more prone to complications because of exposure to other children, germs on door handles, as well a host of other issues
- Understand that most children do cry when they are getting their ears pierced.
What kind of earrings should one select for their kids?
We use a medical earring sold only to medical offices and our earrings are made of both plastic and titanium. (The company is called Blomdahl.) It’s important to avoid low-cost earrings; they often have cheaper metals and can cause allergy issues and prolonged heal times. Quality matters with earrings. Plastic earrings have no metal and are great for people with metal sensitivity.
Do you recommend parents bring their kids to a nurse, doctor, or place like Claire's for their first earrings? Why or why not?
The popularity of mall-centered piercing seems to be diminishing. I often hear moms say they would never go to the mall to have their child's ears pierced. The statement I hear the most is: "I don't want somebody who is 18 piercing my child's ears.” The piercing/tattoo parlors often have age restrictions (no one under 12 years old), and most doctors offices only pierce their own population (patients). It can be a challenge to find a doctor’s office to pierce your child's ears, but I believe that a doctor's office is the safest.
Do you advise parents go to a tattoo parlor for kid's earrings? Some do!
Tattoo/piercing parlors are regulated in my state (Massachusetts) so they need to pass inspection every so often, so I’m sure most parlors are fine. People should read reviews and make sure customers have generally been happy with the service at any given establishment.
Anything else hesitant parents should know about ear piercings?
Parents should consult their pediatrician about ear piercing and should do some reading on what is involved with caring for a child's ears.
Why are some parents, in your opinion, totally against piercing their kid's ears?
I think some people feel it’s a choice that should be left up to the individual; done at a time where the person getting pierced is also old enough to consent to the procedure. Piercing is not always but often done for cultural reasons. In countries like Venezuela it’s done in the hospital at one or two days old unless you tell them ‘no.’ Some of the mothers tell me stories about how their mother-in-law says things like, "Why are the child's ears not pierced yet?”
There are plenty of parents out there who think a child should be old enough to make their own decisions about earrings, and I completely understand that point of view.
However, it’s important to note that for some families, ear piercing is cultural. For example, I am half Puerto Rican, and grew up in an extended family where baby girls had their ears pierced within days of their birth. (Next time you find yourself in the Caribbean, check out the ears of baby girls you see. I can guarantee you, most of these cuties sport earrings.)
In fact, my own mother had her ears pierced as a baby, so it’s no shock that she pierced the baby ears of her three daughters. For many cultures, especially Latin ones, ear piercing baby girls is the norm.
So, when my daughters, S and A, were both 11 months old, I took them to a local pediatrician who pierces ears. I easily could have gone to a jewelry store, but decided I felt more comfortable going to a medical pro. The doctor used numbing cream, and a special piercing gun from a kid’s piercing company called Blomdahl (mentioned by Woodsum) that didn’t make any loud noise and we were in-and-out of the office within 30 minutes with cute plastic earrings.
(Only my younger daughter cried for a moment, and that was because she doesn’t like strangers and didn’t recognize the doctor.)
You want to pierce your baby’s ears? Go for it. Do your research on where to go: to a pediatrician, a nurse, a local jewelry store...you have tons of options. Just make sure the venue is sanitary and safe.
On the flip side, if you think it’s a decision a child should make on their own when they’re older, that’s totally fine. There is indeed something really special about taking your older child to select earrings for say, their 8th birthday. It’s really bonding and special.
My sisters and I agree on this: we never felt like our mother took something away from us, an independence so to say, by piercing us as babies. We just accepted it (I never really thought about it until I had kids of my own) and as we aged we still bonded with our mom by the ritual of picking out fun earrings together.
I wear earrings every single day, as does my youngest sister, but our middle sister isn’t really into earrings and only wears them on special occasions. I do hope my daughters aren’t upset with me when they are older for piercing them as babies. Right now, they don’t pay much attention to their earrings and both wear tiny studs. And if they choose not to wear earrings as they age, that’s fine with me. That’s the beauty of earrings; they can be removed and/or changed up!