Is it okay to pierce my baby’s ears?

In Spain and Latin America, a baby girl’s ear may often be pierced quite literally the day she is born, and this seems to be perfectly safe. There tends to be a bit more arguing in some other parts of the world, but as far as safety goes, the American Academy of Pediatrics takes the position that piercings pose little risk no matter when they’re done, so long as you take proper care of them. On the other hand, though, the AAP also recommends placing earrings when children are old enough to take care of them. In the United States, hospitals don’t typically pierce ears. You can ask your pediatrician if he or she will do the procedure, or recommend another healthcare professional to do so. Healthcare providers who pierce ears often use sterilized piercing earrings made of hypoallergenic surgical steel specifically designed for this purpose. When piercing a baby’s ears, it’s a good idea to stick with healthcare professionals instead of going to retail stores and tattoo parlors.

Proper care includes:

  • Not removing the earring for the next 6 weeks after piercing
  • Gently rotate the earrings each day, but discourage Baby from touching or pulling on their ears
  • Keeping an eye out for signs of infection. These could include redness, pain, swelling, discharge, fever, and bleeding

After 6 weeks, it’s okay to change the earrings, as long as it’s to earring made of at least 14 karat gold or surgical steel, to prevent an allergic reaction or skin sensitivity. However, babies should not wear earrings that dangle as they might be tempted to yank them.

Other concerns

Even though ear piercings in babies are overwhelmingly considered safe, the discussion doesn’t end there. Baby ear-piercing presents a whole other problem in the form of consent, or a lack thereof. When a baby gets their ear pierced, it’s the parents’ decision, not the baby’s own. This leads many to question whether or not it’s fair to pierce the ear of somebody who has absolutely zero idea what’s going on. Many parents who feel this way believe it’s best to wait until their child is a bit older to get their pierced, so that they may weigh in on the decision for themself.

The bottom line

Ear-piercing in babies is largely safe, provided you take care to take care of the piercing. Some parents prefer to wait until their children are older to get their approval for the piercing, but there’s very little chance of harm involved if you don’t wait. The decision is yours to make, and either decision is a good one.

  • “Avoiding Infection After Ear Piercing.” HealthyChildren. American Academy of Pediatrics, June 1 2007. Retrieved October 25 2017.
  • “The Risks of Infant Ear Piercing.” Johns Hopkins Medicine. The Johns Hopkins University, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, and Johns Hopkins Health System, March 17 2015. Retrieved October 25 2017. 
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