Parents of baby girls, and even sometimes for baby boys, have more than likely been asked the question many times: “Is little ____’s ears going to get pierced?” And whatever the answer may be, there’s a variety of criticism coming from the people who ask. Some of it is based on valid concerns, but delivered in poor fashion.
Who honestly wants to hear their Great-Aunt Bertha tell them all about how horrid it is to mutilate a baby’s ear with that garbage, or how people who don’t get it done end up regretting it later. No one, that’s who wants to hear all that.
Piercing a baby’s ears as an infant is not, by any definition of the word, child abuse. If someone called CPS for that, they would be laughed at all the way out of the door. It is, and has been since it started, the parent’s choice as to whether or not they decide to pierce their baby’s ears.
Someone can call it abuse until they’re blue in the face, but that does not make it true. And keep in mind, if earring’s aren’t the way to go, that there are alternatives. There are stick on earrings, clip on earrings, and magnetic earrings, but none of them are really appropriate for small children who put things in their mouths.
That said, though, is it right? Do the pros for piercing the ears of a baby outweigh the cons?
The debate about this topic has gone on and on, and there are arguments for piercing on both sides of the debate. There are also some alternatives to getting actual piercings. As a parent who did pierce her children’s ears as babies, I learned a thing or two about how well it can go, as well as about how awful it can really be.
15 Con: Baby Could Rip The Earrings Out
Even if the piercings are done at a younger age, as the baby grows older, they can end up ripping out the earrings, which can lead to some pretty nasty wounds. Babies can end up tearing their whole earlobes if they get them caught on a sleeve, which can take a very long time to heal. And the pain from a rip is awful, about a thousand times worse than getting them pierced in the first place. It’s not something anyone wants their baby to go through.
Babies are naturally curious, and as they get older, they’re going to want to play with those interesting little pieces of metal in their ears. If the baby gets the earring out, they can also end up getting them in their mouth, which can lead to a serious choking hazard. All in all, if the earrings come out, it can be a very bad thing all around.
14 Pro: Helps Prevent Mistaken Gender
This is one that gets used pretty often as a pro, and it’s one of the reasons I pierced my daughter’s ears. Many parents become concerned that, despite the gender specific clothing they have dressed their children in, that they will still be called the opposite gender by well-meaning strangers, who for whatever reason think they need to gender-label a baby.
And for some parents, ear piercings just make life easier, and make it so that the child is more easily recognizable as one gender or the other. My child was bald as can be until she hit 12 months old, and people called her a little boy from the minute she was born up until she began to correct them herself at age 2 and a half. We thought that getting her earrings may help with that annoyance.
That said, some people do not realize that some people will pierce a little boy’s ears as well. It actually happens far more often than one would think. So basically, in all honesty, going by whether or not the child has their ears pierced is not a good way to help determine gender anymore. And also, it doesn’t really help all that much. People still called my daughter a little boy simply because she was wearing blue jeans.
13 Con: There Is A REAL Risk Of Infection
As with any wound, there’s a risk of it getting infected. Later on down the line, my youngest child’s ears got infected to the point where the earrings had to be removed, and the infection happened overnight. Her ears had goop coming out of them, they were irritated and swollen, and they hurt. She was a toddler by that point, and we opted to just remove her earrings for good.
The piercing store gives a bottle of antiseptic with every piercing, with instructions to clean the holes every night for at least 6 weeks. And without disinfecting, the ear holes are pretty much guaranteed to get infected at least somewhat.
When a cut gets infected, it hurts, itches, and is pretty bothersome, right? So, imagine a baby going through that same kind of itchy, achy infection, only in their ear lobes. It does not sound fun, at all. A lot of things can contribute to getting an infection, and sometimes infections can pop up with no warning even when all the right upkeep is being done.
12 Pro: Child Won’t Remember the Pain Later
If piercings are done in the infant stage, this one is very much true. Most children do not remember the pain of getting their ears pierced if it was done at a very young age, usually in infancy. And this can be a very good thing, or a very bad thing. For example, no one wants the child to remember having to get something painful done, for whatever reason. So that’s a good thing.
But, the child should have some memory of how it feels, so if they want it done later, they know what they’re getting into. That’s the downside.
If the goal is to have less memories of having something painful done, then yes, this is a definite pro. Just keep in mind that the lack of memory of the pain is not the same as not having been in pain. There was still pain involved, they just don’t remember it.
But honestly, as parents that’s a call we have to make sometimes. Every shot we opt to give our kids is, for a brief moment, causing them pain, even if it is for a beneficial cause. Kids will experience pain whether or not we try to shield them from it, so getting it done at an age where the memory is more vague or non-existent could be a really good thing.
11 Con: Children Could Have An Allergic Reactions
Unfortunately, This is one that I learned about the hard way. When piercing a baby’s ears for the first time, there is a very real risk of unknown metal allergies that get aggravated when you pierce the baby’s ears.
My youngest had this issue. The woman at the store where I got both of my first daughter's ears pierced pushed the gold earrings on me for my second daughter. We had the money, so we splurged, and got them. They were so beautiful! And then a day later, her ears had turned a violent red color.
I took her back to the store and the manager gave us a pair of stainless steel earrings free of charge and helped us get them in the holes. It healed up alright, but that doesn’t change the fact that she had a severe reaction to something that is routinely sold in stores for piercing.
Like many other parents, I had not done the proper research. Gold is far from the best option there is out there, even though it’s pushed in the shops quite a bit. Many websites still recommend gold for piercings, when in fact, stainless steel is the best thing to use, because it’s hypoallergenic, which is why surgical tools are made of it.
Also, keep in mind that any foreign object in the body can cause a negative reaction, even if it’s not an allergic reaction.
10 Pro: Baby Is Less Likely To Play With Them
This reason is only about half true. Yes, some babies are much less likely to touch or play with the fresh piercings or even less likely to pull them out. But some babies, even at 4 months or so, are not. Some babies just like to touch and feel everything, and if they have an ouchie in their ears, they’re going to potentially try to check that out.
However, many babies will in fact not touch their ears if they are very young, and will let them heal up without tugging on the earrings, so it could be beneficial, as long as the little one isn’t the type of baby who touches everything.
Basically, this is a pro because the child is at an age where they are far less likely to actually play with the piercings, so there is less infection risk, but there is still the chance that the child will tug at them on occasion.
9 Con: It Hurts!
This one is obvious, but piercings hurt! Sure, it’s just a pinch, but to an infant who has not experienced much pain in their life, that jolt can be jarring. Piercings involve putting a piece of metal through an infant’s (or adult’s) earlobes (or any other part, for adults). It hurts, and it hurts for more than just that initial piercing, but it hurts for hours later, and can be sore for days.
It’s not a one day thing, it can be something that the child is dealing with for a while, and when it’s a baby who can’t really express the pain that they have to deal with, they have no choice but to suck it up.
There are ways to help the child cope with the pain, but obviously, it involves Tylenol or other painkillers, which isn’t something parents should give babies outside of actual illness. But it’s nearly impossible to soothe all of the remnant pain away until they’re mostly healed up. And even then, when cleaning and turning the earrings, it can hurt all over again.
8 Pro: Can Be A Cultural Preference
Some cultures still routinely pierce the ears of children on a regular basis, and it’s widely accepted in those cultures. Babies of both genders in many countries routinely get their ears pierced, and no one blinks an eye.
In Spain, according to some who grew up there, they did not typically dress their children the way others may do so in the US or Canada to denote gender, so to denote the gender of the child, they pierced their child’s ears. The practice is also routinely done in Asia and the Middle East, and is done in more places across the globe.
If the reason for getting it done is based on culture, then that is something that both parents should agree to well in advance. Every culture does things differently, so shaming a culture that happens to pierce ears of their infants is wrong. To each their own.
7 Con: Piercing Guns Are AWFUL
Why are piercing guns bad? Let me count the ways… Many experts agree that piercing guns are downright dangerous, especially for the tender wee months of infancy.
Piercing guns are prone to causing infections, to start off. Anything that pierces the body should be sterilized before the piercing happens, and we mean right before it happens. Despite how stores claim to sterilize their guns, the fact is that retialers can’t actually sterilize a piercing gun.
Why can’t they be sterilized? Because they’re made of plastic, which cannot be sterilized in an autoclave like other piercing supplies and surgical tools. And even if the guns are wiped with antiseptic, there is still a risk of spreading diseases.
Another reason that piercing guns are awful is that the results often aren’t that good. When ears are pierced by a professional piercer, the needles are sharper, and there’s less trauma sustained by the surrounding tissues. The piercing gun forcefully rams the studs into the earlobes, which can cause severe trauma to the surrounding tissues, which is never a good thing.
Also, the piercings that can be performed by a gun are limited, since cartilage does not respond very well to being pierced by a gun.
6 Pro: Adds A Bit Of Bling
Definitely more of a cosmetic pro more than anything, but it does add some style options to a child’s wardrobe, especially as they get older. There are many, many kinds of earrings that look incredibly cute, and these things can go with a plethora of outfits. If fashion is the name of the game, then earrings are a nice addition.
They make cute sushi earrings, cookie earrings, animals, flowers, rhinestones, and so much more. And since there are a lot of hypoallergenic options, the fear of an allergic reaction lessens quite a bit.
Keep in mind, if fashion accessories alone are the name of the game, that the original stud starter earrings need to stay in the earlobes for at least 6 months after the initial piercing. This is to help prevent infection. But after they’re healed and 6 months or more have passed, then changing out the starter studs is a definite option!
5 Con: Should NOT Be Done Before The DTaP Shots
The main reason for this is one crucial has to do with the letter 'T' in the DTaP vaccine. Tetanus is spread through puncture wounds with dirty metal, and ear piercings are in fact puncture wounds. While the risk of getting tetanus from a piercing done in the mall or a piercing parlor is extraordinarily low, the risk is still there, which is why most doctors recommend for the shot to get done before the piercing.
The shot is given at 2 months old, so parents should at least wait until about 2 weeks after that if they're planning to have their child's ears pierced.
Having to wait two months for the DTaP shot is annoying for some, and some places, such as places in the mall, may not consider piercing the baby if they do not have this vaccine. Tetanus can be found, surprisingly, even in plain old dust and dirt, so protecting a child against it may not be a bad idea before piercing their ears.
4 Pro: Child Comes In Without Fear
When children come in for piercings further into their childhood, they may come in scared, anxious, and tensed up, making the job of piercing more difficult for the person piercing them. Fear can cause problems during the piercing process.
For example, if a child flinches when the needles go in, it can cause crooked holes. Not having fear can make it much easier for a child to get their ears done. Babies aren’t hyped up about getting their ears pierced, so they’re not scared or worried about what’s coming.
To help make it easier on the child, try and find a place where both ears can be pierced at the same time. That will help with the flinching, as long as they’re fast enough at what they’re doing. The quicker they get it done, the easier it will be on the baby.
3 Con: Robs Them Of Their Choice
Some of the best things about growing up are the rites of passage that we go through. Those rites can include our sweet sixteen, getting a car, and for some, getting their ears pierced. But if that’s already been done, then their ability to make that choice for themselves later on is gone, so that choice is taken from them before they even get the chance to make it.
Some people down the line really grow to resent that their choice was made for them, and they wish they could have made the choice themselves.
Some people, when their kids go to get their ears pierced at an older age, make a full day of it. They do lunch, shopping, maybe a haircut, and then they get the ears done. It’s like a celebration, and the child is fully aware of the choice they made, and it’s rarely done on a whim.
2 Pro: They Can Be Removed Later
In all honesty, if later on, a child isn’t interested in wearing earrings or doesn’t like them, they can always be removed. When my child’s ears got infected, we decided to remove them, and now almost a year later, the holes can barely be seen.
I got my second holes done as an adult, and took them out, and the holes are invisible, and it’s impossible to even see that I had them done. So, there’s a good chance that if it’s not something the child likes later, they can take them out and just let the holes close up without a problem.
That said, keep in mind that just because they remove the earrings, the holes may not close fully later on. This can be a blessing or a curse, depending on how the person views it. If they so choose to replace the earrings later in life and the holes aren’t closed, then they can always push earrings back through.
Then again, there’s also the chance that they don’t want the holes showing, and they’ll still possibly have that constant reminder it was done. So it’s a toss up, to be honest. But in the end, they can in fact be removed, which is always a plus.
1 Con: It’s Cosmetic, Not A Necessity
In the end, ear piercings are NOT necessary, and there are as many cons as there are pros. Personally, if I knew what could happen before I did it to my kids, I would have waited and let them make the choice themselves. While ear piercings are cosmetically pleasing, piercing isn't something that has to happen at all. It’s all about beauty and aesthetics.
There are many choices we have to make as parents that are necessary, most of our choices directly benefit our children or stop them from getting harmed. All earrings provide are an aesthetic beauty, not a medical necessity.
This is one of those personal parental choices parents make at the age of infancy, and they should do as they see fit to do. Just be fully aware of the risks involved, and make sure that the choice being made is a fully educated one.