I pierced ears on again off again during breaks from college and law school over the course of roughly six (6) years and pierced the ears of tiny babies all the way to my grandmother’s second set of pierced earring holes. During all of this time, I was a childless observer fascinated by the strange anthropology behind ear-piercing. Whilst on vacation, I came across this article on my Facebook page There’s Nothing Cruel about Piercing My Baby’s Ears and desperately wanted to respond. I also desperately wanted to vacation, so I went back to whatever we were doing at the time and didn’t. But let me tell you it’s been nagging me. I wouldn’t say that piercing an infant’s ears is cruel, it’s your legal right as the baby’s guardian, and in the store I worked, after 12 weeks of age or their first shots, for a fee we would happily accommodate your request, but I did learn a thing or two in those six (6) years, and unfortunately for you, I feel the need to share them:
(1) Own up to the fact that this is YOUR choice, not your under 5 year old’s choice. At age infant, 1, 2, 3 and even 4 and 5 they really don’t understand the process or responsibility of the commitment they’re making (or you’re making on their behalf), nor can they care for their ears themselves without at least some assistance.
(2) Ears Grow/Develop. I won’t even begin to tell you how many people out there do not understand the fact that your ears grow and as they grow they change/shift etc. Which is why second to children getting their first piercing one of the next most popular request came from women who had had their ears pierced as infants or small children and now wanted one hole fixed/moved because they are no longer symmetrical. This can be done, only problem is often that first hole has been there so long, no matter what happens it won’t close again.
(3) Ear piercing involves a commitment to personal hygiene. Kids are dirty nasty little creatures, seriously, it amazes me where they collect dirt from. Especially behind and near their ears. Consequently, their ears get infected more frequently than adults, they also tend to do harm to their ears through sporting events, playing, pulling and tugging on their ears, more often than adults. Consequently, if your wee one wants “pretties” on her ears, make sure you/she fully understand the road ahead. Proper ear cleaning is just another thing to add to the never-ending Mommy task list.
(4) If you do decide to get her ears pierced and they do get infected, take the earring out, clean it out with ear care solution, alcohol or HP and let it dry up, if that doesn’t happen then take her to her pediatrician. Do not take her oozing, puss covered and earring still in place because you don’t want pay for another piercing back to the ear piercer for advice. A good one will tell you what I just did and a bad one will remind you they’re probably in college and have no idea, worst they will try to give you medical advice.
(5) Remember how amazed you were when your super advanced genius baby got out of her crib all by herself or crawled while standing on her head, that same baby is just as likely to rip out those earrings and eat them. For that reason alone, most pediatricians will tell you to wait.
(6) From experience, for as many children under 5 we pierced, we re-pierced the same set of children between the ages of 8-12 when their first holes had long closed up because they either weren’t ready or had allergy issues and we’re giving it a second go. This is a much better and more successful age for ear-piercing, because they not only fully understand the process and commitment but can be a willing participant in the process knowing full well it’s their choice.
So when you pierce your daughter’s or son’s ears is totally up to you, and no it’s not cruel, but at the same time maybe it isn’t really the best decision either, I’m not telling you not to do it, just to really think through the consequences.
English: A little girl getting her ears pierced. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)