The debate is ongoing about baby ear piercing, and it doesn’t show any signs of letting up soon. It is discussed almost as often as bottle feeding versus breastfeeding and disposable versus cloth diapers. It seems that everyone has an opinion on this touchy topic.
Some parents are disgusted and appalled that people would even think about having an infant’s ears pierced. As the other end of the spectrum are parents who feel that those adorable little diamond stud baby earrings are just too cute.
It may be a family tradition or a cultural ritual, but for whatever reason, some people have their babies’ ears pierced. If you’ve thought about having baby ear piercing performed on your child, you may have some questions before the procedure. They may include the proper age for piercing and how safe the procedure is.
Why Consider Baby Ear Piercing?
There are various reasons why parents choose to have their babies’ ears pierced. Some believe that their child will want pierced ears later in life, and that it isn’t as painful if it’s performed at an early age.
Other parents have more practical reasoning for the piercing – it helps in solving problems of gender identification in baby girls. People who have never met your little girl won’t confuse her as being a boy. Those little diamond studs will tell them you have a little girl.
The procedure of baby ear piercing only causes a brief moment of pain for your baby, and she will soon forget it ever happened. That’s why some parents don’t see any harm in having their babies’ ears pierced.
Culture plays a role in some ear piercing for babies. In some communities or cultures, it is customary for baby girls to have pierced ears. It could also be a custom in your family.
If you wait until your baby is older to have her ears pierced, she may object to the cleaning of the ears and changing of earrings that follow piercing. As an infant, she may not even notice the earrings, which means that it will be easier to care for her pierced ears.
Why Wait to Pierce Ears?
You might, on the other hand, decide to wait awhile before you pierce your girl’s ears. If you wait, the piercing can become a special memory, shared between you and your daughter. Some people consider piercing to be a rite of passage, and some parents wish to allow the child to make the decision herself.
Some parents wait for ear piercing until their child’s ears have completely grown. Baby ear piercing may cause the piercing hole to become lopsided-looking. When the ears are more fully grown, the proper place to pierce is more easily isolated.
When Should You Pierce your Daughter’s Ears?
Everyone seems to have an opinion on this topic. If there isn’t a solid medical reason for waiting to pierce, then many parents don’t feel that piercing baby’s ears is a big deal.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that a parent should wait until her daughter is of an age where she can care for the pierced ears herself. In addition, they don’t recommend piercing a baby’s ears, due to the chance that infants might swallow tiny earrings.
If you are determined to have your baby’s ears pierced, AAP does recommend that you wait until at least two weeks after your baby’s first tetanus shot, which is usually given at two months of age. Your pediatrician may recommend you wait for piercing until your baby has received all tetanus rounds. These take place at two, four, six and 15 months of age.
Safety Rules for Baby Ear Piercing
Speak to your pediatrician and ask if he performs baby ear piercing in his office. Otherwise, call and find a business that has the proper equipment for little clients.
Some safety rules:
• When you have someone pierce your baby’s ears, be sure that they use only gold stud earrings. The 14 karat gold will lower the chance of inflammation or infection.
• Ensure that the business you choose has the right equipment for babies, and properly trained staff with experience working with young children and babies.
• It is not recommended that ear-piercing guns be used for your baby’s ears, since the guns can’t be sterilized. If your baby has her ears pierced using a gun, the risk for infection or hepatitis is higher.
Caring for your Baby’s Newly-Pierced Ears
It’s natural for your baby to cry after she has her ears pierced. It’s best that you know that up-front. After the piercings, her tiny body will attempt to heal the ears, and this results in inflammation, swelling or redness near the stud.
After you get back home, you need to care properly for her pierced ears. This will help in reducing her risk of infection, and will help her ears to heal more quickly.
Clean the earlobes – front and back – and rotate the earrings gently twice a day or more. Use antibiotic ointment, rubbing alcohol or an antiseptic wound product.
Leave the earrings in for six weeks or more. This will allow the ears to be healed with the hole still in its place. Once six weeks have passed, you can use other earrings, if you like. Be sure they’re made of gold, like the original studs, to prevent infection.
If your baby’s ears around her piercings become tender or red, this is an infection sign. Contact your physician to see what is recommended in the way of treatment.
Possible Complications from Baby Ear Piercing
As with any procedure, piercing your baby’s ears can result in medical complications.
• Allergic Reactions
In some cases, your child may have an allergic reaction to the metals used in making the earrings. This may cause infection in the earlobe. Select earrings that are not made with nickel, as this is the type of metal that causes most infections.
After your baby’s ears are pierced, watch for infection signs. Infection is the single most common problem after babies have their ears pierced. They may become infected if the piercing equipment wasn’t sterile, if the earrings clasp tightly or if the earrings had dirty posts.
Contact your physician if your little girl’s ear develops pus around the area of the piercing, or the ear is red, or if your baby suddenly develops a fever, with no apparent reason.
• Earlobe Tears
If your baby wears hoop or dangle earrings, she has a higher risk of having her earlobes torn when she plays. Stud earrings are the only safe type for your baby.
• Choking Hazards
When you have your baby girl’s ears pierced, select earrings that will be unlikely to fall out. The posts can fall accidentally inside her ear, and will require medical removal. If your daughter is playing with her ears and one of the earrings comes lose, she may accidentally swallow it.
• Formation of Keloids
After your baby’s ears have been pierced, her body tries to heal the trauma area. If her body is overly aggressive in defending itself from infection, keloids may develop. This leads to scar tissue. Keloids can be removed with medical treatment or surgery.
Keloids are in some instances genetic in nature. African-American children tend to be more likely to develop them. They can occur in a baby of any ethnicity, however.