When And How To Get Your Baby’s Ears Pierced

Now, let me start off by saying: I have no dog in this fight. I do not care if you pierce your baby’s ears. Parents make decisions every single day that 98% of other parents disagree with, so you do you. For the record, my 8-year-old got her ears pierced when she was about 4 1/2, after she asked to have it done. My 4-year-old has no interest in getting hers pierced, so hers are not pierced! I decided to let them decide, and so that’s what we’ve done. But for a lot of people, infant ear piercing is a hot-button topic. Some people even compare it to circumcision, which … seems extreme. It’s a really common practice around the globe, with cultural significance in some areas. But of course, if someone disagrees, they’re right and you’re wrong and around we go the mommyshame merry-go-round! It never ends.

Whether or not you pierce your baby’s ears does not affect me in the slightest, but I do want to share some information about how to do it safely. That’s the most important thing, let’s be real. Ear piercing is incredibly common and is generally not a big deal, but there are definitely some steps to take to insure your baby is in good hands and their ears are well taken care of.

Infant ear piercing can be done at almost any age. But most experts recommend waiting until your baby is at least 6 months old.

Listen, it’s a very personal decision. Lots of people I grew up with had their ears pierced before they even left the hospital after they were born. My own parents waited until I was 5, and like I mentioned above, I waited until my girls asked. The danger of piercing your baby’s ears is the risk of infection, which is very real! That’s why experts recommend waiting until your baby is at least 6 months old and their immune systems have developed enough to withstand an infection should one occur.

Where to go for infant ear piercing!

It used to be that you could request to have it done in your pediatrician’s office for a fee. I’ve heard from parents that say this isn’t very common anymore, which does limit your options a bit. If your doc doesn’t do it, ask them for a recommendation for where to get it done. When I asked my daughter’s ped, she urged us to take her to a professional piercer and not to a mall kiosk or accessory store. I prefer needle piercings myself. I find them to be much less painful and the healing process to be much easier. But it can be difficult to find a piercing studio that does infants, so you may have to call around.

No matter where you go, make sure the person piercing your baby’s ears practices proper sanitation and safety protocol. They should wash their hands and forearms, wear sterile gloves, and only use equipment that is single-use and was removed from the packaging in front of you. Make sure they also clean and sanitize your baby’s lobes, as well.

Can you make it hurt less?

Piercings hurt! They just do. You’re punching a hole through your flesh. So be prepared for your baby to cry, because they probably will. If you get it done in your doctor’s office, you can request they use a numbing cream to numb the lobes. A professional piercer won’t be able to do that, as they likely aren’t licensed to dispense meds (like lidocaine). But holding an ice cube to the lobe for about 15 minutes prior to the procedure can also help. Just make sure to clear it with the person doing the piercing.

Infant ear piercing earrings and aftercare.

You want stainless steel earrings and posts, as they have the smallest risk of allergic reaction. You can also use titanium, platinum, or 14k gold, but those can be pricey. Don’t use a bulky to dangling earring. Instead, opt for small studs that can’t get caught on hair or clothing.

Caring for your baby’s ears after piercing is incredibly important. It doesn’t take much for an infection to set it, and when it does, it can be hard to get rid of without removing the earrings. After washing your hands, use a cotton ball or q-tip to clean the earrings twice a day, using a piercing solution or warm salt water. Every piercer I’ve ever used has strongly cautioned against using rubbing alcohol or peroxide. Both of these substances dry the area and kill new cells, prolonging the healing time. Turn the earrings after each cleaning to maintain the hole. And don’t change the earrings for at least six weeks.

If you decide to pierce your baby’s ears, just make sure you do it safely!

(Image: iStock / Wavebreakmedia)

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