Ear piercing is a milestone often celebrated with the tiniest of ears. If you’re contemplating infant ear piercing for your child, you’re not alone. While there are many reasons families choose to have their babies’ ears pierced, there are several factors to consider. From cultural persuasion to the risk of infection, we will cover all the pros and cons to help you decide what is best for your family.
What is Infant Ear Piercing?
Infant ear piercing, or baby ear piercing, is piercing a child who is under the age of 1. The piercing is only done in the soft lobe. To prevent them from closing, lobe piercings must be cleaned 2-3 times daily, and an earring must be kept in place 24/7 for a year.
When is the Best Age to Pierce a Baby’s Ears?
The American Academy of Pediatrics states that ear piercings for infants are safe as long as it’s performed in a reputable and safe environment and proper aftercare is performed (University of Utah, 2023).
It is recommended to wait until your baby has received their first set of vaccinations, including their first Dtap, which can be administered as early as 2 months of age (CDC, 2023). There are many benefits to having your baby’s ears pierced while they’re little, including:
Easy healing: Babies under one year old are less likely to pull on their ears or earrings, making the healing process go smoother!
Minimal discomfort: Any discomfort they experience from the piercing will quickly be forgotten!
Right of passage: Ear piercing is a great way to honor cultural or family traditions
There are some disadvantages to consider as well, including:
Aftercare falls on the parent/guardian: Taking care of a baby is a lot of work, and adding in the routine of caring for new piercings may not be what you want to do right now, and that’s okay! You can always wait until your child is old enough to participate in the aftercare routine before having their ears pierced.
Baby unable to give verbal consent: For some, this is an incredibly important factor in determining whether or not to have their child’s ears pierced. Some may choose to delay ear piercing until their child is old enough to consent.
Preparing for the Procedure
It’s critical to find a location that utilizes best practices and is clean and friendly to pierce your baby’s ears. This will help set you and your baby up for a successful healing journey after the piercing. It’s also important to avoid any jewelry containing nickel - only hypoallergenic and nickel-free jewelry for the littlest of ears!
When it comes to having your baby’s ears pierced, timing is key! You want to schedule your appointment for a time that doesn’t interfere with your normal routine. It’s good to bring your baby in when they’re well-fed and rested.
Babies like to be soothed by eating after their piercings, so being prepared to feed your baby right away will bring comfort to your little one.
The Piercing Procedure
Every piercing appointment starts with selecting a beautiful pair of earrings (all of which are hypoallergenic and nick-free). Then, a nurse will bring you to the piercing area and assess your baby’s ears. The front and back of the lobes will be cleaned with an alcohol pad, and then we will place dots on the ears to indicate earring placement. This is the most time-consuming part of the process, as we want to ensure perfect piercing placement. Once the dots are just right, we will pierce. You’ll walk out of the studio with beautiful earrings in your baby’s ears and all the information and aftercare you need to ensure a smooth healing process.
No matter what age, there is always a risk of infection when it comes to ear piercing. To mitigate this risk, be sure to thoroughly clean your baby’s piercings at least twice a day according to the aftercare instructions provided by your nurse. Watch out for any excessive redness, swelling, fever, or yellow-green discharge, which can indicate that the piercing is infected. If you do suspect an infection, it’s important to have your baby’s pediatrician provide treatment.
Another risk is developing an allergy to nickel or other low-quality metals. Allergies develop as a response to being exposed to an allergen multiple times, making it important always to keep hypoallergenic and nickel-free jewelry in your piercings.
There are many factors to consider when it comes to choosing the right time to have your baby’s ears pierced. For many, having an infant’s ears pierced is a cultural expectation. Other parents/guardians choose to have their baby’s ears pierced because they won’t remember the discomfort. Ultimately, the decision is up to you.