Should Babies Get Their Ears Pierced?

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Infant ear piercing is on the growing list of controversial parenting decisions. It ranks up there with formula feeding, circumcision and spanking. If you’re thinking about getting your little girl’s ears pierced, there are a few things you should know first.

I’m one of the rare females who has never had her ears pierced. My mother couldn’t bring herself to cause me any needless pain. Yet when my younger sister turned four and requested “pretty earrings” my mother obliged. Off we went to the local salon where my sister exchanged cries for two “sleeper” hoops.

It’s been more than two decades since I witnessed my sister’s tearful piercing experience and my ears are still void of artificial holes. I now have two daughters of my own who have their ears pierced, but I didn’t take them in as infants. (I could barely stomach their immunizations.) They each chose to get them done on their eighth birthdays (they are six years apart). It was over quickly, and no tears were shed. There were no complications and they were easy to care for.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “If the piercing is performed carefully and cared for conscientiously, there is little risk, no matter what the age of the child.” While this may be the case, the AAP suggests waiting to get your little one’s ears pierced until she is old enough to manage the after care herself.

Some parents feel that it’s best to get their children’s ears pierced early. Jackie got her daughter’s ears pierced when she was four-and-a-half months old. They went to a local jewellery store where two piercers completed the task simultaneously. But it wasn’t without complication. One of her little girl’s ears had to be redone as it was pierced too close to the edge. “I had a bit of a fit, but she didn’t notice at all,” she says.

Other parents, like Katie, are waiting until their baby is old enough to make the decision herself. While Katie receives pressure from friends telling her she should get her baby’s ears pierced because she is a girl, she is firm in her decision. “Piercing her ears isn’t going to make her any more of a girl than she already is.”

You may also wish to wait, but if you don’t, here are some things you might want to consider:

There may be pain
You can apply numbing cream to your baby’s lobes, as Jackie did, to help ease the discomfort.

There may be infection
Clean according to instructions and wait the appropriate length of time before changing to other earrings. This is typically four to six weeks.

There may be an allergic reaction
Choose hypoallergenic earrings to avoid possible metal sensitivities.

There may be a choking hazard
The AAP recommends using earrings with locking or screw-on backs for infants and young children to avoid ingestion or aspiration.

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