There are plenty of cute little babies with their ears pierced. The decision to have babies’ ears pierced quickly after birth is something that many parents make, while others wait until their child is a bit older. It depends on whom you ask whether you should pierce your baby’s ears, as some people are all for it and others are completely opposed to it. As well, some cultures require children to have their ears pierced as early as possible, which makes weighing up the pros and cons a bit more challenging. Although we’re not here to take an outspoken stance against baby ear piercing, we hope to provide the facts so you can make an educated decision.
The purpose of this article is to give you all the information you need to know if you’re planning on getting your child pierced. However, we recommend you consult with your pediatrician before making any decisions! Read here for more information!
How old should your baby be to get their ears pierced?
Do you think it’s appropriate to pierce your baby’s ears at a certain age? There is no quick answer to this question. It has been suggested that you wait until your baby has received two tetanus shotsTrusted Source, at around 4 months of age. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) hasn’t come up with a definitive answer on when ear piercings should be performed. The group recommends waiting until the child is old enough to handle the aftercare for piercings on their own, but does not explicitly prevent children from getting pierced.
An AAP representative acknowledged that piercings are safe at any age as long as sterile equipment is used and that techniques are followed. Additionally, the parent or other caregiver needs to make sure that their child receives proper aftercare to ensure the piercings heal well.
What’s The Process
There is a possibility of an air gun “shooting” the earrings through the lobe, depending on where you go. There are also shops that will use a needle to accomplish this. Anywhere you go, make sure everything is sanitized and surgical gloves are worn by the practitioner. The piercing of the ears is now available with pediatricians and nurses in some areas. If you are considering piercing your child’s ears, contact your physician first.
Many experts recommend waiting until a child has had his or her first tetanus shot before giving him or her a vaccine. It’s best to choose earrings made of 18K or 14K yellow gold posts, surgical steel, platinum, or titanium posts rather than the more common push-on backs. There’s too much danger associated with push-on backs loosening in the crib, and the earring and the back become choking hazards. It is also a good idea to make the earrings’ posts short compared to the ones on adult earrings, as their lobes are so small and their heads have so little room to breathe. For older children, choose posts that are made from 18K or 14K yellow gold, surgical-grade steel or platinum – make sure that the metal does not contain nickel or at least trace amounts of nickel. There is a rise in nickel allergies, so avoiding nickel may decrease the risk of infection.
Regardless of age, anyone who gets an earring must leave it in the ear for four to six weeks until the hole has healed. The piercing must be cleansed with a disinfectant and a clean cotton ball or cotton swab a few times a day during that time. Using a swab around the earring and the back of the head can help minimize the chances of infection. For double chores at once, clean the area around your baby’s earrings every time you change a diaper if her ears are pierced. Kids older than 13 should clean the area around their piercings twice or three times a day. Once you are sure your child can handle it on their own, you should supervise them and remind them. It is also important to rotate the earrings every couple of days to prevent scar tissue from developing. Look for signs of infection and contact your pediatrician if you notice redness, swelling, or fluid coming out of the wound.
Now that the six weeks have passed, there have been no infections, and it’s time to start the earring collection. For more than a year, people of all ages should wear earrings even after the initial healing period has passed – the holes will close fairly easily. You should stay away from metals containing nickel (like white gold) for the first six to twelve months. It’s possible that sterling silver contains trace amounts of nickel, but this is generally regarded as safe.
As a baby’s mother, you get to choose the earrings, but keep in mind that they should be made of a metal that’s nickel-free, and the posts should be short. Wearing even tiny hoops or drops can get tangled in small fingers, bedding, clothing, or hair, so they should only be worn under supervision.
After the healing period is up, plan a special shopping trip for tween earrings just for you two (remember, a month or six weeks may seem like forever at this age). Here are a few popular motifs that you might like:
- Nature: Bees, butterflies, and flowers in colorful enamels on 14K yellow gold.
- Hearts: Solid outlines, with gemstones or without.
- Personal: Birthstones, crosses, or interests.
In addition, your child will be able to start building a jewelry wardrobe through this opportunity. As with small-diameter hoops, metal or cultured pearl earrings will get a lifetime of use. They’re the type of things you’ll wear for the rest of your life!
Signs That Your Child Is Ready to Have Their Ears Pierced
When you decide not to pierce your child’s ears as an infant, how can you determine when they are ready for their ears to be pierced as an older child? The following signs indicate that they are ready:
- They’re asking you for pierced ears: It’s common for children to repeatedly ask their parents to pierce their ears when they become ready. As a parent, you have the final say when it comes to when your child should have her ears pierced. But once your child begins requesting it, you’ll know it’s something that they are interested in.
- They already handle other chores: This should be confirmed before allowing your child to get their ears pierced in order to ensure they can take care of their earrings and their newly pierced ears afterward. It is pretty safe to assume that your child will be able to handle the responsibility of having their ears pierced if they already perform daily chores such as making their bed, loading the dishwasher, or brushing their teeth.
- They understand the importance of taking care of the piercing: When you book your child’s ear piercing, talk to them about what to expect when they get their ears pierced. If possible, you should make sure they understand why they should take care of their ears and what steps to take to do so.
- Nothing will interfere with the piercing: However, if your child plays a sport, rides a horse, or engages in any activity that might interfere with their newly pierced ears or cause them to remove their earrings, it might be prudent to wait until after the piercing has healed.
- They understand what is involved: In spite of the fact that you can apply numbing cream to your child’s earlobes before they are pierced, they still need to understand that they are likely to feel some discomfort and a pinch during the procedure. In order to determine if your child is ready for the “pinch” of piercing, consider the reaction they have when they have a shot at the doctor’s office. Perhaps you should wait until your child’s ears heal before piercing them if they break down and spend hours crying after a shot.
What to Look for When You’re Getting Your Child’s Ears Pierced
Parents often wonder whether it’s easier to pierce their children’s ears with a needle or with a piercing gun when they want to have their ears pierced. In spite of the relatively wide availability of piercing guns, many experts like the Association of Professional Piercers advise using a needle, rather than using a gun, to pierce any part of the body.
It is not possible to sterilize a piercing gun, which is the primary reason needles are recommended. Piercers use piercing guns to remove tattoos and body art, but they can’t sterilize them by exposing them to high temperatures.
Besides needles being more effective than guns, the sharpness of the object being inserted into the earlobe is another reason needles are preferred. Using a piercing gun, earring posts are pushed into the lobe. It turns out that the post of the earring is not as sharp as the tip of a hypodermic needle, which means that the process of piercing the earlobe relies more on pressure from the gun than sharpness. When a piercing gun is used instead of a needle, there is a greater chance of infection and other complications.
If you take your child to a piercing parlor, a doctor’s office or a mall store, be sure the following steps are followed before the person performing the piercing gets any closer to the child’s ears:
- Washing their hands or using hand sanitizer is the norm.
- Putting on new vinyl gloves, they’re ready to go.
- An antiseptic wipe is used to wipe down the piercing gun or needles after opening a sterile package.
It’s a good idea to ask about the sterilization and disinfection process used by the person performing the piercing. Whenever they are unable to answer a question or are unclear about how things are sterilized and disinfected, you may want to locate another facility.
Using an antiseptic solution or a wipe, the person who does the piercing should clean the earlobe before piercing your child’s ears. A topical anesthetic cream can ease discomfort caused by the piercing itself if you’re worried about discomfort from the piercing. A pediatrician may still be willing to provide you with numbing cream on prescription if they don’t offer ear piercing but do not offer any ear piercing services.
What risks come with having your baby’s ears pierced?
There are several risks to consider that your baby might not be aware of before they have their ears pierced, including infection. We’ll get to those shortly. According to research, having pierced ears as a baby isn’t associated with unintended side effects like uneven or drooping piercings, assuming you’re diligent during the healing process.
Additionally, concerns about other issues, such as the development of keloids (excessive scar tissue) or allergy reactions to metals used in earring design, have not been consistently linked to having pierced ears as an infant. The results of a study showed that keloids are more likely to form when ears are pierced after the age of 11 as opposed to before that age.
Having your ear pierced or piercing your baby’s ears is not a good idea if you have keloids in your family history. However, if you still believe that your child should have his or her ears pierced, experts suggest doing it in early childhood rather than infancy to avoid the risk of the child developing keloids.
Where should you get your baby’s ears pierced?
In order for the provider to use sterile equipment, you have to ensure that the provider uses sterile techniques when piercing your baby’s ears. Rather than using piercing guns that are more prevalent in jewelry stores, mall kiosks, and other retail establishments, the piercer should use a needle. To ensure the piercing is done correctly, seek the guidance of a doctor, nurse, or technician with experience.
It is also important that gold post-earrings are inserted by the piercer, which can help reduce the risk of infection and skin reactions. You should also consider not letting your baby wear dangling earrings, as these might get caught on something and cause your baby’s earlobe to tear. As a final precaution, you should use screw-back earrings to prevent them from loosening, falling out, and possibly choking a child.
As soon as you’ve decided to proceed with your child’s ear piercing, the next step is to determine where the procedure will be performed. In terms of piercing your child’s ears, you have several options:
- Pediatrician’s office: While not all pediatricians pierce ears, there is nothing wrong with getting your child’s ears pierced at the doctor’s office. With sterile environments and tools, you can rest assured that your operation will be clean and sterile.
- Jewelry store: Jewelry stores often offer ear piercing services, either for a fee or for free if you buy earrings from them. If your child wants his or her first pierced ears, you can ask the jewelry store where you’re shopping for his or her first earrings if they also do piercings. However, if they do not offer them, they can point you to a location that does.
- Tattoo/piercing parlor: Tattoo parlors and piercing shops might look intimidating from the outside, but once you step inside, you’ll discover a clean, sterile setting similar to a doctors’ office. It is important to vet the parlor by reviewing online reviews, visiting it in person, and discussing it with your friends and family.
- Mall kiosk: An option for your child is to have their ears pierced at a mall kiosk or accessories store, but it is not the most recommended one. Piercing guns are frequently used in mall kiosks, which aren’t as sterile as needles. Additionally, the individual performing the piercing might not have as much training and experience in the process as a doctor or professional piercer.
Aftercare and steps for cleaning your baby’s ear piercings
The manner in which you take care of your baby’s piercings will affect how well they heal, as well as their longevity, just as it does for adult ear piercings – and any other type of body modification for that matter.
Especially if you have piercings, maybe you haven’t cared for them in a while. Make sure you take these steps:
- The piercing site should be cleaned with an antibiotic ointment twice per day using a cotton pad.
- Make sure to rotate the earrings twice a day.
- During the first four-six weeks, do not remove or change your earrings
Touching your child’s piercings should be avoided unless your hands have been thoroughly cleaned.
Preventing infection can be achieved through good, consistent aftercare.
While getting your ears pierced is very common for girls and boys, this doesn’t mean it is an error-free process. When having a new piercing performed, you should ensure that the procedure is done safely, with sterile equipment, and that you know how to properly care for the piercing at home. Kimberly Schneider, M.D., a pediatrician at Indiana University Health, offers these ear-piercing safety tips to help you avoid infection.
Avoid newborn piercings
“I tell parents to wait until children are at least three months old before getting ears pierced because if they were to develop an infection and fever from the piercing, infants younger than three months almost always have to get admitted to the hospital according to protocol,” says Dr. Schneider. As ear piercing does pose a risk of infection, wait until your baby is older to avoid a possible hospital stay.
Make sure sterile procedures are in place
Piercings are sometimes performed at pediatricians’ offices, so you can rest assured the environment is sterile and safe. Whenever you purchase jewelry, Dr. Schneider cautions that you should ensure that you are entering a reputable store with sterile practices. According to Dr. Schneider, “You may want to check with the Better Business Bureau and make sure there have been no complaints.”
The regulations and licensing standards for piercing in each state vary, but the person who will perform the piercing should be well trained and use gloves and equipment that have been thoroughly sterilized before beginning. Do not hesitate to inquire about their sterilization procedures if you are uncertain. Using a sterilization machine or cleaning with a disinfectant solution will improve the safety of the instruments.
Choose the right metals
When choosing earrings for piercings, choose hypoallergenic materials such as sterling silver, 14-, 18- or 24-karat gold. Hypoallergenic metals are less likely to produce allergic reactions. In order to avoid allergic reactions when you get your body pierced, stay away from nickel (if unsure, ask the piercer).
Stay on top of your new piercings
If you are having body piercings, make sure you ask the piercer what to expect afterward and how to care for the area afterward. Immediately following a piercing, it is common to experience swelling, sensitivity, or redness on the skin surrounding the piercing. In order to have a healthy healing process and avoid infection, follow these guidelines:
- Except when cleaning your new piercings, refrain from touching them.
- Hands must always be washed with soap and warm water before touching earrings or ears.
- Apply alcohol to a cotton swab about two or three times a day to the entire area surrounding the piercing (front and back). If you are cleaning your earrings again, ensure the backings are securely attached and then rotate them gently.
- Wear headphones when brushing your hair, talking on the phone, or wearing headphones and don’t pull or push on your piercings. Taking these precautions will help prevent tears.
- When your piercings are healing, you should avoid swimming in pools, hot tubs, lakes, and oceans. This can lead to infections.
Keep your earrings in for at least six weeks
It is recommended you do not remove or change the earrings for six weeks or as recommended by the piercer. “Stick with regular cleanings during this period of time and don’t slack off, otherwise it could lead to infection,” says Dr. Schneider. “This is a great opportunity to teach responsibility to older kids, but be cautious to not let your elementary school-age child have sole responsibility for the piercings. Teach her how to do it and let her have some autonomy, but supervise from a distance.”
After the first six weeks, once you can change the earrings (after the first six weeks), you probably need to use only post earrings for six months after the piercing to prevent the holes from closing. A piercing won’t fully heal for several months, so allow yourself plenty of time.
Watch out for signs of infection
Contact your physician for an examination and treatment if you experience pain, redness, pus, or swelling beyond 24 hours following the piercing.
What to do if you see signs of infection
Whenever we modify our bodies (that includes piercing our ears), there is an infection risk. It is therefore essential that we follow the aftercare guidelines properly.
People of any age who get their ears pierced usually experience only minimal discomfort during the healing process. Accordingly, it is possible that your baby’s piercing may be infected if you observe the following:
- warmness to the touch
- a temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher
In the event your baby shows any of these signs of infection, it is advised to clean the piercing with a simple saline solution. Your baby’s sensitive ears should not be exposed to rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.
It is important to keep the piercing site clean, as well as to turn the earrings as needed. You should also be aware that if you do not see any turning of the piercing, that is also an indication of infection.
The first two days you can treat at home, but if you are still experiencing symptoms after that, you need to see your pediatrician.
Tips for minimizing pain during and after piercing
There is going to be discomfort involved in any piercing procedure, and babies will not understand what is occurring. Having the procedure performed quickly by an experienced professional can help minimize pain during the piercing process. To numb the area, you may want to apply a cold pack before and after the piercing.
Likewise, follow up with the patient consistently but gently. During the first few days, this may be uncomfortable for your baby, so have some distractions on hand. Depending on your baby’s age, this could be a special toy, a favorite fruit slice (if he or she is eating solids), or an entertainer from a sibling. It is good to know that piercing-related pain is usually very short-lived as long as the area remains clean and free of infection.
- An anesthetic cream containing lidocaine is typically applied to the earlobe by many professionals. As a result, the area is numbed and the pain is reduced to a simple stabbing sensation. Several generous sprays should be applied over a period of about 15 minutes.
- The same task can also be accomplished through the use of ice. A long period of time spent holding ice cubes to the earlobe tends to reduce the sensitivity of the nerve endings in that area. It is therefore possible to perform this procedure just before the needle is inserted into the lobe.
- It is impossible to reduce the pain completely with either method. In other words, it is important to support your child and make him or she understand, or to distract him or her so that he or she does not notice firsthand the pain. In addition to developing pain during anesthesia, the pain might also occur later on. It is important for you to hold her hands tightly throughout the process and encourage her to take deep breaths to calm down.
- Discuss the matter with your child in a practical way, and ensure you do not make her feel anxious or worried in front of her. As you become frightened yourself, your child will notice that you do so and will also become frightened and anxious. As an additional comfort measure, you can have her take deep breaths during the ear piercing in order to calm her.
Who Should Pierce Your Kid’s Ears?
Here are a few things you need to consider before you decide where and who will pierce your kids’ ears:
- If you want to make sure your kid gets their ears pierced, ask for a recommendation from a pediatrician or dermatologist. When they do, you will have the assurance that the equipment will be sterile and that the chances of infection are very small. In addition, the doctor of your child will typically follow the safest hygiene practices. The majority of dermatologists and pediatricians, however, don’t pierce kids’ ears, but it is worth asking your doctor just to be sure.
- In the event, your pediatrician or dermatologist prevents you from getting ear piercings for your child, you can ask them where you can find a place where kids can get ear piercings safely.
- When visiting the person who will pierce the ears of your child, you should ask how long they have worked in this field. Ideally, the person who is to do the piercing should have more than a year of experience specifically with child ear piercings.
- Furthermore, you should ensure that the person who will pierce your child’s ears follows all safety procedures. It is important that the person wash their hands before touching equipment or put gloves on. If necessary, you can also ask him or her to clear the ear lobes with a cotton bud wet with alcohol, to reduce the risk of infection.
Best types of jewelry for babies
In order to ensure that your baby’s first piercing goes well, you should use gold post earrings that are small, round, and flat. While gold post earrings that contain 14 karats (or higher) gold tend to cost more than mixed-metal earrings that might contain nickel, they are less likely to cause allergic reactions.
If you’re picking out the first pair of earrings for your child, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
The first thing to keep in mind is that your child will wear earrings for six weeks straight. Because of this, choosing a pair they like is a good idea. Some jewelry stores offer the option to choose earrings with the child’s birthstone, or they will let you choose another gemstone that appeals to them just as much.
As the post of the earring passes through the child’s earlobe, it is crucial to choose a metal that is hypo-allergenic and sterile. Children’s earlobes should be pierced with gold posts, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. A professional piercer usually recommends 14k gold or higher earrings with surgical steel posts, according to the Association of Professional Piercers.
It’s important that you choose nickel-free earrings regardless of what type you opt for. A lot of people, including approximately 11 million children, are allergic to nickel. It is believed that metals can cause contact dermatitis when they come in contact with the skin.
In addition to the metal from which the earrings are made, it’s also important to pay attention to the style of the earrings. The following are important points to keep in mind:
- Choose studs: If you are planning on having your child wear the earrings for at least six weeks straight, opt for studs instead of hoops or dangling earrings. Neither you nor your child should be playing with or getting tangled in the earrings.
- Smaller is better: Make sure you pick flat and small earrings if you’re going to pierce your baby’s ears so that they won’t pull the studs out.
Select a style your child likes: If you are piercing the ears of an older child, let him or her choose the style of the earrings. A gemstone stud might be preferred, or perhaps a small stud in the shape of a butterfly, flower, or something similar.
Will my child have to avoid certain sports or activities after getting her ears pierced?
Although some experts disagree, others warn that children should be extra careful, especially in the first two weeks following a piercing, when the wound is more likely to become infected. Swimming in a lake or ocean during that time may contain bacteria unknown to researchers. According to Dr. Garner, this must be avoided. Sports activities such as horseback riding and softball require helmets that might rub against the ear. Ideally, the child should take out their earrings prior to participating in sports. However, if your child plays during the first six months after getting pierced, consider covering the earrings with small bandages. It might be best to check with your daughter’s coach first before you pierce her ears — if earrings aren’t allowed, you might have to wait until the season is over.
What are the main things hesitant parents should know about piercing their kid’s ears?
- Depending on the length of time it takes the piercing to “heal completely,” it can take anywhere from 4 to 12 months.
- Piercings are most difficult to perform on children between the ages of two and five. The children are old enough to want the earrings, but not usually old enough to fully comprehend how they are made.
- The fact that middle-school children are exposed to other children, the germs on door handles, and many other factors makes them more susceptible to complications
- Be aware of the fact that most children cry when they get their ears pierced.