by Cathy Barbarossa

Who doesn’t love a little bling?                                                                           

I’m a pretty simple person who doesn’t doll myself up very much, but I have to admit, I love that I can quickly dress up my face when I change my earrings.

I knew I wanted to pierce my daughter’s ears someday, but when is it a good time?

I thought if I waited until she was older, she might be too afraid of the pain. So, I decided to do it when she was a baby so she wouldn’t remember it. At the time, six months old felt about right since she wasn’t mobile yet and would stay still during the piercing.

My doctor said it was ok. My mother encouraged it. And, most of my friends were jumping on the bandwagon. All signs pointed to yes, but I was still unsure. The deciding factor? I had a subtle nudge from a few strangers when they would refer to my baby girl as a “he”.

At first, I thought it was the most adorable thing to see little girls with a little shazzam. After I went through with it, I quickly realized there was nothing cute about it! I did not research the topic before I did it because it’s such a common procedure, but I definitely would NOT have done it if I knew all the risks.

Here are five reasons why moms should NOT pierce their baby’s ears:

1. If the earring is pulled, it can tear the earlobe.

My baby and I unintentionally yanked on her ears quite often since her earrings accidentally got caught in her wool winter hat, her sweaters, her hand-knit blankets, and on my bra while breastfeeding. Every time it happened, I always panicked as I tried to gently remove the small piece of yarn or thread from a tiny earring. She was usually squirming, so if she pulled on it hard enough, she could have torn or damaged her earlobe.

2. People can contract Hepatitis B and other serious infections.

If dirty or contaminated equipment is used, Hepatitis B, tetanus bacteria and other serious infections can be contracted through a piercing. I am now very grateful that the cosmetician did not allow me to bring in my own earrings because the ones they sell are all sterilized. Make sure they use gloves, disinfect the piercing gun in front of you and are working in a clean area.

3. Adding antiseptic for six weeks is critical to avoid infection.

As if you didn’t have enough things to do, here’s an extra thing to add to your ever-growing-to-do-list. It’s very important to disinfect your baby’s piercing with an antiseptic for six weeks, a few times a day. My baby hated the wet and cold feeling on her ears and wound up getting fidgety and crying afterwards.

4. An infection can cause a lot of discomfort.

My poor little girl not only had red ears, but there was a funky goop coming from the piercing. Although the earring was gold, the backing of the earring was gold plated (which, apparently, is very common). The doctor told me that many babies can develop an allergic reaction to gold or gold plating. Plus, with her tender ears rubbing against her clothes or sheets throughout the day, it also contributes to the area getting irritated. So now, on top of the antiseptic, I had to clean them with an antibiotic cream as well.

5.  It’s a choking hazard for children under the age of 3.

I would never give my kids a toy they could choke on. So, why did I think that an earring was different? The last and scariest moment for me was when I thought my baby swallowed her earring. Although she didn’t choke on it – thank goodness – I called a toll-free nurse helpline for advice on what to do.

The nurse told me to take her to Emergency immediately to take x-rays. Best case scenario, she would poop it out naturally in a few days.

Worst case? If she didn’t poop it out, she could have some internal damage from the sharp pin. If it gets stuck in her throat or esophagus, it could damage her voice box. Or, while it’s passing through the stomach or intestines, it could scratch or poke the lining causing internal bleeding. For the next 48 hours, I had to be on the lookout for vomiting, fever, bloody stool, loss of appetite, or abdominal pain.

My heart stopped when I heard this! How could something so fun and adorable turn so ugly?

Thankfully, she didn’t swallow the earring after all. I wound up finding both the missing earring and its clasp under the rug. From that day on, my husband and I decided not to put the earrings back in. If my daughter wants to pierce her ears when she’s older, it’s her choice! If she chooses not to, who cares?

I know there are many people who have positive experiences with a piercing, so you may think I’m blowing the topic out of proportion.  My own ears are pierced and I had no issues with mine. So yes, the process can be beautiful for some people, but in my eyes, if it risks my baby’s health – it’s simply not worth it.

As her mother, I do everything in my power to keep her healthy and safe. Why is it that I turned a blind eye to dress up an ear?

 

 

Cathy Barbarossa  is a freelance writer and proud mom and wife. Although writing about food is her niche, her new passion includes providing inspirational tips, tricks and tales dedicated to the unsung heroes who bring life to life: Moms.


Author

Maria Lianos-Carbone is the author of “Oh Baby! A Mom’s Self-Care Survival Guide for the First Year”, and publisher of amotherworld.com, a leading lifestyle blog for women.

17 Comments

  1. As much as I appreciate and value those points, which they are valid, I also tend to disagree.

    It is tradition in some households to get a child’s ears pierced at 6 weeks. Most Europeans I am in contact with are like this. I had mine done at that age and I also got my daughter’s done. I would do it again too.

    What is good for some may not be good for others, however, there is nothing wrong it in either.

    • It is has validate has circumcising a mail at birth. Who is the parent to see that a daughter will want pierced years happy Rudy anymore than they are one to determine that a sign will want a circumcised penis of puberty?

  2. Freda, as the article states, each person is free to do as they wish with their own child however I must agree with her that it is definitely important to be knowledgeable and well informed on the topic if you are going to go ahead and pierce your child’s ears. I think she offers some excellent sound advice on the topic. I myself had my ears pierced 4 times as a child because they kept getting infected so mymom would just let them close, wait awhile and then re-pierce again several years later. I agree that it’s not worth risking the chance of having the above mentioned incidences happen, just to satisfy our personal desire to see their ears pierced. The child will never know the difference anyways, at such a young age. Laura

  3. I had my daughter’s ears pierced at the age of 3. As she was being an independent child she was taking off her t-shirt and pulled out one erring with it. She f=got scarred and after that I could not put the ear ring back cause she was afraid it will hurt her. The whole closed up and she wore just one ear ring for a long time. Than later on the other came out too. She is almost 8 years old and we just re pierced her era about 1 month ago, it was her choice, she wanted era rings. She was nervous. I wish I had it done when she was a a baby, ( I am from Hungary ) but my husband felt bad about it. Does not matter how old the child is infections can happen. When my daughter got her eras done at the age of 3 she go a mild infection.

    It is our personal choice when we get our kids ears pierced, infection can happen at any time.

  4. My husbands daughter got hers done at 6 weeks and did pull one out it got infected and caused a bunch of scarring so when we had kids he said heck no and I tend to agree. I don’t want my daughters to go through that. In Italy where he is from its also very uncostomary to alter children at all before the age of 8 in traditional italian homes.

  5. You made good points I never thought of. I didn’t pierce my daughters ears because I didn’t want them to feel pain for such a vain reason.

  6. Angie Tune Reply

    Cathy,

    Was searching for my GF’s blog with same last name and came across yours. Read you interesting question to others why not to consider infant ear piercing.

    Admittedly, I know a lot of people have strong feelings when to pierce a child’s ear. “Let them decide” is being replaced by parental decision when mommy intuition knows, “earlier is better” from either personal or friend’s experiences of unpleasant childhood ear piercing. I think it just depends on your own personal choice whether or not you wish your baby or little girl to have pierced ears. Some feel perceived gender of their child is important while others find it a cultural tradition where all infant girls have pierced ears. I pierced our oldest daughter’s ears when she was two months old and our youngest at just days old. We found an experienced individual where they specialized in infant piercing.

    My advice is to do them one at a time to insure they are perfectly centered. This may take 15 seconds longer, but will make sure they are not crooked later in life.

    Our oldest daughter just turned two and has never had an infection, pulled them out, and she’s never even played with her earrings (which is amazing in my book). My mom pierced my ears when I was 2 weeks old and I’ve loved it….I think earrings on little girls are adorable!

    If you don’t know how she’d look at any age, then hold up a pair of your studs to each ear and decide for yourself. Many moms including myself like the look of earrings on babies and little girls for no specific reason, but like how light plays off a simple gold ball on a bald baby girl or small gold hoop poking through the hair of a toddler.

    Cerebrally, as mothers of girls of all ages, we know it celebrates their femaleness and femininity. After all, they are little girls, right? Growing up I remember many of my little girlfriends were not allowed to get their ears pierced. I could never understand it…but when their parents did finally let them, it always seemed they’d get infected because they were constantly touching them or trying to change out the earrings before they were supposed to. Many said it was painful, but all cried having a great deal of angst leading up to and including the actual ear piercing.

    To each their own but I think the earlier the easier. If we have another girl, I will pierce her ears early as well. I took my youngest DD at days old after I asked our pediatrician and she encouraged me to go ahead before she aware of her surrounding or developed a pincer grip to play with her ears. She gave me some suggestions for moms having their daughter’s ears pierced. They seem to apply to all ages.

    If anyone wants our ped’s tips, then don’t hesitate to write me an e-mail.

    Just when is the best time to pierce your daughter’s ears? It is when you are ready to care for them during the healing phase. They are very easy to care for. If you decide to do it as a newborn or infant, then I promise she’ll thank you later!

    Angietune@hotmail.com

  7. You are absolutely right that different moms all over the world take different positions on this issue. Millions do decide to have their baby girls ears pierced in infancy while other s decide to wait till they are older and can make the decision for themselves. No position is any better than the other and I do get rather annoyed when parents who decide not to pierce their baby girls’ ears as babies become all self righteous and criticise those that do.
    I had my ears pierced as a baby and am very grateful to my parents that they did so. When I had my hair cut very short about eight years ago, I had my ears double pierced at the same time and since then I have also had my cartilage pierced too at the request of my husband.
    When my first daughter was born, I insisted she had had ears pierced as a baby even though my husband was not happy about it. I said I wanted her to have it done and he might change his mind after she had the little gold studs put in her lobes. When he saw how pretty she looked with little gold earrings, he completely changed his mind and when our younger daughter was born, he insisted she also had her ears pierced as a baby, also at about three months old. He now loves the look of pierced ears on baby girls and cannot now understand his earlier reluctance, especially as I showed him pictures of myself as a baby with earrings.My daughters are now five and three years old and love wearing earrings all the time although they are allowed to change their studs for more ornate earrings on special occasions. A couple of my friends with little girls have also had their ears pierced in infancy while at least one other mother I know with a daughter has made it clear that she does not approve of this particular fashion. I will say that a baby looks very different after having her ears pierced compared to one that does not. It rarely goes unnoticed but I think it does look very cute, it gets the procedure over with at an early stage, the baby does cry but usually no more than about half a minute and they grow up being envied by other girls at school whose parents have not made this decision for them If you are considering piercing the ears of your own little girl, my advice would be to go for it ! You will not regret it.

    • Debbie… I must say excellent parenting. I personally believe piercing a baby’s ears is a parents decision. I will not be piercing my daughters ears for personal beliefs but I am sure that she will grow up secure and confident enough in her purity not to envy other children who’s parents decided to take that away at such a young age. I am glad that your husband changed his mind so easily bc it looks pretty (nail polish, hair dye and belly piercings look pretty too). I hope not to be misunderstood…I had my ears pierced as a baby and really don’t have a problem with it. Just annoying to hear a mother say she did it so her kids can look pretty and be envied.. Ohh so vain ..so sad

  8. It’s also important to point out that piercing guns can NEVER be sterilized (as you said in your article)–swabbing a gun quickly with an alcohol pad is NOT the same as sterilizing. A properly sterilized instrument is put in an autoclave for 15 to 30 minutes, and then and only then is it truly sterile. This cannot happen with piercing guns because their plastic casings cannot stand up to the heat. Due to a spray of micro-droplets resulting from the piercing process, the guns can still harbor bacteria even if they don’t touch the ear or have been wiped down with an alcohol pad. So there’s another reason not to pierce a baby’s ears: the gun method has been proven unsafe, and, knowing everything you just pointed out, very few reputable piercers will agree to pierce a baby’s ears.

    • Since one of the side effects of an infection is getting a fever, you don’t want to start off with one in case the child does get a reaction to the piercing. Best to wait since your child already feels discomfort – don’t put their body through any more unnecessary strain.

  9. I concur with Renee. What a horrendous reason to pierce your girls ears Debbie. So other girls can be envious of them? I really hope you aren’t teaching your girls that that is an important trait, To be admired based on how pretty you look. How shallow. I pray that your girls don’t end up with the self-esteem issues that most girls do, because with your teachings of shallow beauty, they are in for a very rough life!

  10. I don’t see the issue as someone whose ears were pierced at age 6 weeks ironically on the same day I got my first immunizations. My ultra proud mother video taped it and I didn’t cry once. I suck my bottle and slept right through it. Though I don’t use the holes much as an adult(I’m not very feminine) I am nothing except grateful that it was done long before I could ever remember so I didn’t have to suffer for beauty at a mature age and get the resulting bad memory. When a very young baby has their ears pierced the risk of infection and complications in general is actually much lower than with an older child, because they are not old enough to be curious and will leave their ears along to heal. If you have the odd curious baby then keeping little hands away is simple as putting mitts or socks on them. If I were to ever have a daughter I would likely do exactly as my mother did and get the piercing done ASAP. Infants are remarkable in their ability to heal quickly with few problems(as long as the parent is vigilant about their care).

  11. Great post! Very informative. I decided long ago that I would let my girl lead the way on this. When she asks, I will take her.

  12. I’m afraid I disagree with most of the women here. This is “accepted” mutilation. To look at your newborn child and think …aww she’s perfect but she needs bling is abuse. What if she never wanted earrings? It’s not your body, she’s your child, but NOT your body. You are choosing something for your own vanity. Then to do it because people misgender your baby is your personal self esteem issue the baby doesn’t care. It’s a child and it should be their choice what happens to their body, not yours. Earrings are not life threatening condition in which a parent must make an informed MEDICAL decision! Earrings can and should wait for THEIR consent as well as yours!

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