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Ear Piercing for Infants and Young Children

Ear Piercing for Infants and Young Children

Ear-piercing is clearly a hot topic among moms. Dozens of conversations on Circle of Moms debate the issue, and over 700 of you voted in our poll asking, "At what age should you pierce girls' ears?" The results show that the two camps both have very strong support. Some 44 percent chose two months to one year as the ideal age for ear-piercing, while 36 percent argued for the 5–17 year age range. So what are the arguments on each side? Here's our summary of the debate.

Reasons to Pierce an Infant's Ears

    • It's not permanent. Moms in favor of ear piercings for babies emphasize that naysayers exaggerate the permanence of ear piercings. As Jennifer L. argues, "It's not like we are putting tats on our babies." And many moms like Jennifer J. say they'd never force their girls to keep the earrings: "If she chooses to not have them pierced she can take them out."
    • It'll happen eventually. Lorraine A. explains her position bluntly: "I believe 99% of girls want their ears pierced. Pierce them." Many moms agree with Lorraine's position, arguing that the vast majority of women get their ears pierced, so the end result is the same as waiting.
  • It's a cultural tradition. Lupita K. is one of many that weighed in about the differences in ear-piercing traditions across different cultures. Simply put, "For many families, infant ear-piercing is traditional."

Reasons Not to Pierce an Infant's Ears

    • The child should make the decision. "Earrings are an accessory. Accessories are lovely, but not loved by everyone. I don't think that ear piercing is wrong or cruel, I just think it's a decision that the child can make for themselves," explained Jaime L. By far, the most common argument against infant piercings is that the child should be the one making this decision, not the parent. "Permanent modifications should be made by the person whose body is being modified."
    • There are possible permanent effects. Because babies' ears still have growing to do, some babies with pierced ears encounter centering problems as they grow up. Amy, whose ears were pierced as a baby and became off-center as she grew, argued to wait until a child's ears are no longer growing: "I say wait. Let the child grow up a bit so that her earrings are centered correctly her entire life."
    • It's a family tradition. Both sides of the debate see tradition as a reason for piercing at certain age. "It's a right of passage," says Caitlin. "Most girls in my family got it done between 10-12 years, and I wanted [my daughter] to have that same experience."

Got an opinion to share? Eager to debate hot-button issues with other moms?

Circle of Moms is a place to respectfully debate parenting topics and questions, from whether it's okay to use child leashes, to what's an appropriate amount of television for your child to watch, to the benefits of bottle feeding vs. breastfeeding. Browse popular conversations, or start your own!

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MelissaTebow MelissaTebow 4 years
I had my ears pierced at a baby and when I was about 3 years old while I was sleeping my hair got tangled in my earring and ripped it through my ear, my ear was slit in 2 for almost 10 years before my parents had it fixed. I got my ears repierced in high school (after having my ear stitched back together) and it was not at all a traumatizing experience but ripping my earring from my ear and dealing with an ear slit in 2 for most my childhood was. Now I don't even wear earrings but still have holes from the piercings, so yes it is permanent, my ears will never look like they did before being pierced. I have an 8 month old daughter and I would love to have her ears pierced because it looks cute, but to me it's not worth the risk of her having to go through the painful and traumatizing situation I did. I would rather wait until she is old enough to make the decision for herself.
BethanyJoslyn BethanyJoslyn 5 years
i wanted to have my daughter's ear's pierced when she was a newborn, but when i asked her doctor about it he got a look on his face and was like "please don't! i have seen too many babies come in with ear infections and they pull at the earrings and end up swallowing the pieces!" he was actually a little scared i would do it! i trust doctors, so i listened to him. when she got older and asked about it i told her she had to wait till she was at least 8 years old because i wanted her to be old enough and mature enough to make the decision and to cooperated in the cleaning of the earrings. i was 5 years old when i first had mine done. they got all infected because i wouldn't cooperate with my mother to have them cleaned properly. they closed up and i had them redone a few years later. i didn't want to go through all that with my daughter. she just turned 8 at the beginning of april (really!?!) and she wanted to have them pierced. a couple days later i took her to have them done. she was a little scared, and cried when the first ear was done, but i made her get the second one finished and a couple minutes later the pain was forgotten when she saw how cute she looked! she is so proud of herself now! she loves them and keeps wanting to change them! there were no problems since she was so well behaved about cleaning them, and i don't regret waiting! she now has the pride that she went through with it! that never would have happened when she was an infant!
MonicaGarciaPerez MonicaGarciaPerez 5 years
Just recently I pierced my baby's ears. She is 12 weeks old. I'm hispanic and my husband is american. We went over this discussion. My husband didn't like the idea of she having earings at such early stage. After almost two day discussion the topic, we concluded this piercing decision is mainly cultural. There are not medical reasons against it (and pro it), there are not developmental reasons either. Back home, there is not discussion about it. Actually, it is done in the hospital where the baby is born (such as circumscision is done here). Even as adults we don't even talk about it at all. It is part of the ritual of having a baby girl. The types of earings used back home are a little bit different than the ones here. They are 18K, have a rounded lock in the back, and are much smaller. Howeve, I had to use the ones here, because nobody wanted to use mine from home. In the place where I pierced my baby's ears, there were two 6-8 years old girls. They were next. The older one did it, the youngest one spent 30 min fighting it, and finally decided not to do it and mom had to pay $50+ for the set anyways. She said this was here third time. I was surprised because I never saw that before, mostly because at home at that age everybody is already pierced. The other 'incident' was a lady watching all the process. She was shocked about these little ladies and mine piercing their ears. She was saying that was wrong and they were too little (she was saying more and more). The interesting thing is that the lady had supersized earings herself. Meanwhile, we had just small/classic earings. Not that this says anything, but I was tempted to ask "Why if you are so against earings, you actually like to wear the biggest ones I've ever seen?". She would probably say: "Because I'm old enough to make my choices".... Yes, point taken. If I think about this too much, I would probably follow the logic behind those against infant ears piercing. But if I follow this logic I will be missing the heritage, the custom, the practice of my culture. If she doesn't like them when she is older, she can take them off, and things will be back to how it was before. I know that one you include the topic of culture then the discussion is difficult. Who is up to have a discussion about culture, religion, and politics? I think that's why we will be discussing this for long and still having different views.
Addison31630 Addison31630 5 years
I think you should be atleast 14 so that you can make your own decisions what if you didnt want your ears peirced that young?
CoMMember13613658935939 CoMMember13613658935939 5 years
I was 14 when I got my ears pierced... this isn't like a circumcision where the pain is so bad... it's a responsibility so a child should be old enough to be able to take care of the wound that she or he is inflicted with.
JulieWatkins94302 JulieWatkins94302 5 years
My daughter is 4.5 and asked a couple months ago to have her ears pierced. I've waited to make sure she didn't change her mind since I assumed it'd be years down the road before she requested it. I explained the process and she still wants to do it, so we'll go next week. I didn't decide to have mine done until I was about 12, but she's more courageous than I was at her age. I really just don't understand the reason for having them done as an infant so people know it's a girl. Put her in a pretty dress, put a bow/headband in her hair, and if you still have to explain it then earrings aren't going to make the difference either.
DebbieChilson DebbieChilson 5 years
I'm very disappointed that your reasons for NOT piercing an infants ears don't include metal allergies that might can be potentially hazardous. My mother has a metal allergy and cannot wear certain types of metals, even as tenuously as a necklace or ring. Putting them inside her body as an ear ring would be BAD.
LeeAnnGrenier LeeAnnGrenier 5 years
Our daughter know that when she has her first menstrual period we will celebrate this by having her ears pierced if she wishes. One of the reasons we didn't do this to her as an infant was the chance that the trauma of the peircing might cause problems with breastfeeding, and we didn't want to jeopardize that relationship. I also believe that she has a right to make the decisions about modifying her own body.
JoyiKraus JoyiKraus 5 years
I chose to have my infants ears pierced when she was just a tiny thing... less than three months. I chose to get her ears pierced at such a young age for two reasons... one, because our family has a strong history of seriously not growing hair until we are about three... then it comes in full and long. I suspected (and was right) that my daughter would be one of the baldies - like I was. I didn't want to always be telling people she was a girl. I know that is selfish and vain and lazy, but it is the truth and the earrings did the trick. No matter what I dressed her in - it was easy to see she was a girl. The second and more important reason was purely practical. I have fairly sensitive skin and it seems my daughter does also - that includes sensitive ears. I did not want my child fussing with her earrings while they were healing and getting them pierced while she was an infant was the perfect way for me to have full control over her piercings while they healed. Even as she got older, she never fussed with her earrings, and her piercings healed perfectly. Now that she is six, she often opts not to wear her earrings, but when she does want to wear them - it is easy to put her earrings in and it is clear to see that her piercings healed fully - the holes are clean and neat - and have never once gotten infected. I know from experience - myself and my little sisters ( I am the oldest of 6 girls ) that older children just cannot help but mess with their new piercings and that makes it very hard for them not to get infected. Now, I didn't make my decision lightly - because I am a Mom and I don't want to hurt my child. I got my second piercing at the age of thirty just before my daughter got her ears pierced. I wanted to know exactly how much pain she would feel and how long it would last. First of all, I got to say that modern piercings are so, so much quicker and less painful than when I got mine done at age 5. They used that piercing gun on my ears to make the holes, then they put in the earrings... AND I remember it bled like nobody's business after the hole was made. We had to wait about thirty minutes before they could put in the earrings. These days the whole deal is all done at once - the hole is made and the earrings are inserted in one poke. The poke hurt, but it was a quick pain that was immediately gone... no lingering aches or anything like that. It felt something like being quickly pinched hard with someone's fingernails... without the bruise or ache afterwards. It hurt, but the pain was only there for a fraction of a second and then it was gone. The girls a Clair's pierced both of my daughter's ears at the same time so that she would not have to go through the ordeal twice and also because it is easier to do the piercings while she is calm. As expected, my baby had a meltdown as soon as she realized the pain... it was definitely a delayed reaction, and anyone watching her reaction would have been convinced I had just tortured my child... but she was calmed back down very quickly - before I got done paying for our piercings and that was that. I got a couple of snide remarks from some of the others waiting to get their ears pierced and I tried like everything to get the 10 year-old that was in line behind us to go before the baby, but she just wouldn't. Of course, after seeing my daughter's reaction - despite seeing me get mine done first - she was absolutely NOT going to get her ears pierced that day and likely my daughter scared her enough that she might not ever get them pierced, but I swear on everything that I love... the pain was sharp, but over instantly. It was enough to make me suck in a deep breath, but not enough to bring tears to my eyes.
SamanthaWest73031 SamanthaWest73031 5 years
For those who say a piercing is permanent, that is debatable. It just depends on how long you wear earings. My husband had his ear pierced as a teenager and you can't tell it was ever pierced. My 2 older boys asked as toddlers to have their ears pierced. They only got to wear them one summer because schools around here don't allow boys to have pierced ears and you can't tell they!!! ever had a piercing. The comment on the centering of the piercing and wait till ear stops growing is just down right wrong. Your ears and nose are the two body parts that will continuously grow till the day you day. This is a medical fact. If the whole is not centered properly, then the piercer did not center it properly. I was 18 when I got my second set of piercings above the original and had to have another whole redone because it wasn't centred right. Ultimately it is the parents decision whether a child gets their ear pierced. Whether it be as an infant of a teenager. Untill they are 18 and out of your house, they have no say
ElizabethSprecher ElizabethSprecher 5 years
I think you should wait til your child asks for it. Maybe you will have a child who is 13 and has there ears peirced and never wanted it? Sure the hole can grow shut but sometimes still leaves a little scar. Ive seen babies at the mall screaming there sweet little heads off for UNNEEDED pain inflicted apon them just because there parents wanted them to look a certain way :/ !
HeatherMathes HeatherMathes 5 years
We waited until our daughter wanted her ears pierced which was around 4 yrs old. The down side was that she was scared of strangers, so she would not let the woman near her ears to pierce them. Instead we bought the proper equipment and pierced them ourselves. She did fine and still loves them now 2 yrs later. It worked out very well and we now have a story behind it :) We just had our third child, a girl, and we plan to do the same with her.
GabbyWagner GabbyWagner 6 years
I found it so much easier to get my daughters ears pierced when she was 5 months! We had gotten my little sisters done when she was 4 years(I was 17) and she didnt care about the pain, but she played with them all the time causing infection which made her in a lot of pain. When I got my daughters done at 5 months she hardly cried at all and as soon as I picked her up she stopped crying. Than she didnt touch them at all, so no infection ! I am not against waiting, I just decided what was best for me and my daughter. Every situation is different.
KerryHolder28242 KerryHolder28242 6 years
I am a trained ear piercer and I do have to pierce children as young as 4 months! I personally dont like doing this, the baby always cries n gets upset and yes while they wont emember the pain it is a traumatic thing for an infant to go through wether they are 4 months or 4 years. My feelings on this subject have always been wait until thy ask for it. I will be waiting for my own daughter to ask me before i allow her ears to be pierced!
TraceyHenry30195 TraceyHenry30195 6 years
Wait for your child to come to you and tell you that is what they want.
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