sleeping baby with ear piercing
Baby, Parenting

Baby and Ear Piercing: The Great Debate

“Baby ear piercing is child abuse!”

“Piercing a baby’s ears is part of my culture!”

two people arguing
two people arguing

Heated responses are given in chat forums, blogs, and real-life over this issue. When baby and ear piercing are in the same sentence, or room, people get opinionated quickly.

It can make a new mom feel nervous and like everyone is judging her for this one decision. In turn, that can make her judge herself.

The Debate

So what’s the big deal? Why do people care so much about this one, minuscule topic?

It’s all about beliefs. Some believe this is an issue of body autonomy and little girls have the right to choose when, and if, they want their ears pierced.

Others see ear piercings as a rite of passage to be celebrated, equivalent to getting the first tooth or walking.

Anti-Baby Ear Piercing

I’m an anti-baby ear piercer. I’ll say that upfront. My baby’s, Sara, ears will get pierced when she’s old enough to care for them and only if she wants them. Here are my reasons.

Body Autonomy

Letting Sara choose if she wants her ears pierced helps to teach her she has control over her body and say in what happens to it.

It’s an opportunity to teach her that her voice matters. She doesn’t have to have things done to her that she doesn’t like.

Fun Experience

For a girl who’s old enough to enjoy it, going to get her ears pierced can be a huge deal. A whole affair can be made out of it.

It could be a Mommy (or Daddy) and daughter day with getting something to eat, maybe getting nails done, and the piercing.

Piercings are also fun to do with friends. A group of friends can get their ears pierced together.

A friend who’s already had it done can provide moral support for the one getting it done.

It can be a great event for a little girl to bond with others over.

Big Girl Responsibility

little girl
a girl

Ear piercings can also be used to teach a little girl about taking care of herself. If Sara wants to get her ears pierced, she’ll have to prove good grooming habits first.

The two biggest that come to mind are showering regularly without a fuss and brushing her teeth every day.

Getting her ears pierced will be a reward for proving she can handle big girl things. It will come with the pride of knowing she’s a big girl now and can do big girl things.

And if by the time she figures those things out being called a big girl is no longer cool, I’ll use the next age-appropriate term.

Pro-Baby Ear Piercings

I didn’t know any arguments for pro-baby ear piercing other than people think they’re cute. I searched the web to find out.

Turns out, it’s part of the Latino culture. It’s so heavily part of the culture that hospitals in some Latin cultures pierce baby girls ears before they leave the hospital.

A baby girl getting her ears pierced is to be celebrated. Photos are taken and spread around the family with the same pride that sharing photos of a first tooth would be shared.

two latino children
two Latino children

It’s probably part of other cultures as well, but the Latino culture was the one that stuck out when I was looking for information.

Complications

Part of the big fuss around baby ear piercings is that it is subjecting Baby to something that is not medically necessary that can cause complications.

Infection and allergic reactions to the earing material are two common complications.

The risks of infant ear piercing are the same risks associated with adult ear piercing. Take a look at that link. It’s the only “research” article I could find on the topic.

Research is in quotes because all it talks about is the risks. It gives no numbers as to how often those complications occur in babies versus adults.

Dr. Rivera-Spoljaric from Children’s MD tried looking for the research herself when it was time to pierce her babies’ ears. She found no information that would support baby ear piercing or be against it.

Needed Research

needed statistics
missing statistics

So what type of information would be needed to definitively say it’s good or bad? The number of occurrences of complications of babies versus other age groups.

It might very well be that getting ears pierced as a baby lowers the risk of complications. Moms are usually over the top (for good reason) with making sure anything that gets near their babies is sanitary.

It wouldn’t be surprising to learn that moms take care of new piercings for babies better then they would their own new piercings.

The opposite might also be true. The risk of infection could increase with piercing ears as an infant because the baby never leaves it alone and is always pulling on it.

Or it may turn out that moms aren’t as attentive as we would think.

Without the research, we don’t know.

Safest Way to Pierce

While we don’t know how often complications occur in babies versus other age groups, we do know what those complications are.

And there are ways to mitigate them at any age.

The first item to start with is the stud, use gold. It is the metal least likely to cause an allergic reaction.

Next, don’t go to a mall kiosk or any location that uses a gun. Honestly, those should be made illegal.

Piercing guns cannot be properly sterilized because they are made of plastic, and they use blunt force to get the earing in the ear which causes more damage than necessary.

Find a place that treats ear piercing like a medical procedure which might even be a doctor’s office. Some pediatricians will do it for patients or provide a recommendation to a place that uses proper sanitation.

Tattoo parlors are another great option. Anyone who lives in a big city will likely have businesses dedicated to safe piercings nearby.

There are many options other than Claire’s or other Kiosks at the mall that can provide a better piercing experience.

When Not to Pierce

Baby with ear showing
Baby with ear showing

I’m not going to internally cringe anymore when I see a baby with a pierced ear, but there are still some instances when it shouldn’t be done.

The most obvious is when Baby doesn’t have a clean bill of health. Talking with your pediatrician in those instances will be key to understanding if Baby’s health problems could be worsened or have negative reactions to piercing.

Sometimes it’s still going to be fine to pierce. Just make sure it’s a discussion you have with your pediatrician.

Another reason to not pierce an infant’s ear is when you can’t even take care of your own hygiene or you know you will struggle to care for your baby’s hygiene.

Ear piercings require regular cleaning. If you have any doubts about your ability to maintain a hygiene routine, don’t pierce your baby’s ears.

I’ve seen it happen. It makes a very unpleasant experience for the baby.

The baby was sitting there crying while her dad used a pair of pliers to take the back off. So much gunk had gotten in the earing that the pieces had been practically glued together.

The Verdict?

We haven’t done the science to know how risky it truly is to pierce a baby’s ears. Without that info, it’s very much a cultural choice for a family.

I’ve seen the articles where people call infant ear piercing abuse. That’s going too far even if we did know the rates of complications.

A family may choose to pierce their baby’s ears and teach them throughout life how to manage their emotions, apologize, eat right, stay active, and socialize.

Another family may choose not to pierce their baby’s ears but do not teach them about eating right, staying active, managing emotions, and other necessary items to be a happy person.

Which ones the real abuse? Ear piercing isn’t a gateway into any kind of negative parenting.

No matter what you choose for your child’s ear piercing, the rest of your parenting decisions aren’t connected to it. Baby ear piercing doesn’t dictate any kind of parenting style.

Your Voice

I’d really love to hear your opinion on this controversial topic. Are you for or against infant ear piercing? Is it a cultural matter for you? If so, I’d love to hear about the cultural significance.

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Henderson
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Henderson

People need to understand that in some culture, piercing is wrong and in some, it’s totally acceptable. When people start condemning other for piercing their girls ears, they’re definitely going too far. I have watched a movie with such scenario. For me, I think it’s right to let the child decide, atleast, it’s her ears, so when she’s old enough she can choose but I don’t condemn those who are into it for whatsoever reason. My aunt just had a baby girl and I think k she needs to be educated by this post. Whatever her decision, I’d respect it.

Holly
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Holly

I have two sons and did not pierce their ears, hah. I do not have daughters, but if I did, I would not have done it as a baby. I still remember when I was allowed to get my ears pierced (I believe I was in 4th grade?) and it was such a fun and special moment that I would want my daughter to experience for herself when she is old enough to remember it. Or maybe she decides she doesn’t want earrings–that is what my twin sister did! She never got hers pierced. I wouldn’t go so far as… Read more »

Pandamelody
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Pandamelody

Ha, I didn’t think was such a big deal ! I have so say that I agree with you, I think the person should choose themselves wether or not they want an ear-piercing. If the parents decide to pierce them without the baby being aware of it, the baby might wouldn’t have wanted to and will be left with a scar for the reft of their life. 

AmDetermined
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AmDetermined

Hi, your post is very unique and educating, I have never find my self in a special topic like this based on point in your post, I disagree  ear piercing, the girl should decide if she wants it or not but some culture just do it, I will be sharing your topic on my social media so that my friend can say their opinion it is a good topic.

RoDarrick
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RoDarrick

I respect your take on this alarming issue of ear piercing and the kind of arguments that have erupted from this. I honestly believed that the issue of ear piercing should be decided when a child is old enough to bear through the pain and can actually understand the reason for it. I believe everybody has a right to their lives and I won’t deny my kids of such right especially when it has to do with their body. It’s only meant for me to advise her to go for it or not. Thanks

Charles
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Charles

Thanks for sharing this. My take on it would be that the parents should wait for the baby to reach an age where they can decide for themselves. The parents shouldn’t do any surgeries on the baby unless they are medically necessary. Especially if it is modifying their body.Not only that but anesthetics were babies seem kind of iffy and they’ve actually found that the pain of some of these unnecessary surgeries they do to babies can cause them to have long-term trauma in their system.I think that new parents should look up intactivism especially as it relates to newborn… Read more »

JJ
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JJ

I never ever saw the topic of ear piercing as a big deal. A few months after my first daughter was born, we asked the pediatrician to pierce her ears. She reduced sensitivity and in a minute it was all over. We also did it for our second daughter. We love those cute photos showing them in their little earrings. Now that I am reading this article, I see where it would have been nice to have it done when she could appreciate a significance, a growing up ritual with friends maybe. I still have no regrets except that the… Read more »

MissusB
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MissusB

I respect your views why you didn’t have your daughter’s ears pierced and let her decide when she wanted to have it. If I was told about your reasons during the times when I was a young mother, I would’ve done the same.  I don’t regret it though because nothing bad like infection happened to my daughter. I just wish I could’ve done things differently because honestly, it would’ve been a more memorable experience if I tag along with my daughter when she decided to get her ears pierced and not when she cried when I asked the doctor for… Read more »

DerrAd
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DerrAd

Your article has presented a different perspective to me…..I’ve only known the controversy to be among religious groups and not from different cultures. In the community, where I come from people seem to be bothered about ladies not having their ears pierced….the notion is that it makes them look like a man. That’s the part of the world that I come from. 

So it appears that where comes from has different reasons regarding this topic. Personally, I wouldn’t like it to be pierced. 

Stella
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Stella

Ear piercing is a well adopted habit in my culture except the few that their faith didn’t support that. It is a sign of beuty. There is this kind of fulfilment our mother usually have when they see their girls well dressed with jewelries. Piercing ear from childbirth is just a way of making the newborn feel less pain. This is because their skin is fragile at that stage and their parents will be able to take a close watch on the baby for the ear to heal up on time without any complication.

Abayomi
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Abayomi

A great and educative article, baby and ear-piercing its depends on the culture and family believe, something that each family takes a decision on,I figure the individual and the family ought to pick themselves whether or not they need an ear-piercing. On the off chance that the guardians choose to pierce them without the infant monitoring it,The health condition of the baby also determines if it should be done. Thank you for sharing.

Debbie
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Debbie

I think if you want to pierce your baby’s ears, just go ahead and do it and ignore any negative comments you may receive. My parents had my ears pierced as a baby and I will always be grateful to them for doing so – and have told them so on several occasions. I had both my daughters’ ears pierced when they were three months old. They are now eleven and nine years old and love wearing earrings all the time. We have never had any problems with them. To any mums who are considering piercing their baby’s ears, just… Read more »