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Ana L. Flores is co-founder of Spanglish Baby, the award-winning online community for parents raising bilingual and bicultural kids, as well as co-author of the book, Bilingual is Better: Two Latina Moms on How the Bilingual Parenting Revolution is Changing the Face of America. A bicultual and bilingual Latina born in Houston, Ana was raised in El Salvador and lives with her familia in Los Angeles. She shares more of her personal life and insights as a Latina mom and entrepreneur on her blog Madre Vida.

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How Young Is Too Young for Pierced Ears? Plus Celeb Parents Who Pierce Their Kids!

By Ana Flores |

baby ear piercings Even though I consider myself to be completely bi-cultural and know the nuances of both the North American and Latin American traditions, it’s still a sort of a culture shock to me when I get asked when I got my 5-year-old-girl’s ears pierced. Many times this question is followed with a hint of judgment as soon as they find out I pierced her ears when she was only four months old. Some might even let out a gasp when I explain that by four months I was desperate to get her pierced and oh-so-annoyed that the nurses wouldn’t do it at the hospital when she was born.

See, it’s a tradition in Latin America that you carry your 14-karat gold baby earrings with you to the hospital when you deliver a girl. In fact, I had two pairs to choose from — one sent by my sister from El Salvador and the other a gift from my husband’s aunt in Mexico. It’s what we do. But rest assured that this tradition has survived centuries because it is safe and, in fact, we believe it’s just better overall for girls to get their ears pierced as early as possible, mostly for all the reasons I list below.

I understand many people seriously disagree that babies should be getting their ears pierced, especially since some argue it’s a form of mutilation. I disagree, but I will admit I have a cultural bias. Beyond that, I do have sound reasons. Let me tell you why ear piercings on babies are fine and then give you some tips I learned to get it done the right and safe way:

#1. It’s more sanitary to pierce a baby’s ears

Between 0 to about 4 months babies will not interfere with the piercing healing process by tugging and pulling the earring. You will have to make sure to clean the piercing with a cotton swab and it’s just so easy to do when they’re in that deep baby sleep. Once they are toddlers, they will be touching with those dirty little hands, increasing the likelihood of an infection.

#2. Babies won’t remember the pain

The older they get, the more they will remember the pain that comes with the piercing gun or needle. The pain is truly minimal — like any shot — but they could be shocked and remember the experience as unpleasant. Some people even report that after getting the first earring in, the girls will refuse to get the second one pierced! Babies can’t really object since they have no perceived sense of fears to needles, and you really don’t need to worry about it being too painful for them. If you want to make sure the discomfort is truly minimal, you can give your baby a bit of a pain reliever like ibuprofen before the shot, but it’s not necessary.

#3. Every girl wants her ears pierced

I have yet to meet a girl that doesn’t want her ears pierced! Nor have I ever heard any of my Latina friends complain that their ears were pierced without their consent because they were babies. Not one. Earrings are for sure the safest form of baby bling!

#4. There are professionals 

Since hospitals in the U.S. won’t allow nurses to pierce baby’s ears before they go home, make sure you find a professional piercing salon or a pediatrician in your area that will do the piercings in their clinics. My pediatrician wouldn’t do it, so I went to a friend’s doctor who did it himself in his office. He told me he got so many requests for it, and got so tired of seeing baby girls come in infected from botched piercings from mall stores, that he decided to do it himself. At chain stores you run the risk of the equipment not being properly sterilized and no guarantee as to how trained the person who’s performing the piercing is. For a checklist on how to choose the right piercer, visit the Association of Professional Piercers site.

#5. Only use real gold or surgical steel

Buy 14-karat gold or surgical steel baby earrings. The difference with baby earrings is that the screw has a lock so that babies can’t take them off and you avoid any choking risks. In any case, if you’re getting them pierced in their early months of age, they won’t be pulling on them anyway, but it’s better to be safe and make sure the earrings won’t come off. The use of 14 karat gold and surgical steel is to avoid any allergic reactions to metals that are common with silver or gold-plated earrings which have nickel. It’s been reported by the Association of Professional Piercers that 15% or more of the U.S. population has an allergy to nickel.

#6. Do what feels right

Some pediatricians might recommend you wait until your baby is 3 months old so she’s already had her first round of immunizations. There’s no medical proof that this is necessary, but it’s a precaution that can be taken for peace of mind.

Like I mentioned, my girl got her ears pierced at four months and it was a breeze. She’s never had an infection or any type of problem with them. And now that she’s older, she can have fun selecting age-appropriate and fun earrings to wear.

Tell me in the comments: Did you or are you planning to get your girl’s ears pierced? How young do you think is too young?

And if you think I’m crazy, here are some celeb parents who also pierce their tots’ ears:

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When can kids get pierced' Ears? Celeb Kids with Piercings

Vida Alves McConaughey (Camila Alves and Matthew McConaughey)

Vida Alves carries Brazilian and American blood in her veins. At two years of age, she's sporting her studs like a beauty.

Photo credit: PacificCoastNews.com

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About Ana Flores

anaflores

Ana Flores

Ana L. Flores is co-founder of Spanglish Baby, the blog and online community for parents raising bilingual and bicultural kids. She is also the co-author of the book, Bilingual is Better: Two Latina Moms on How the Bilingual Parenting Revolution is Changing the Face of America. Ana shares her personal life and insights as a Latina mom and entrepreneur on her blog Madre Vida. Read bio and latest posts → Read Ana's latest posts →

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34 thoughts on “How Young Is Too Young for Pierced Ears? Plus Celeb Parents Who Pierce Their Kids!

  1. Suzanne says:

    I don’t think you’re crazy, and I understand the reasoning, but I think I’ll have to disagree with you on this one, Ana. Is the fact that a baby won’t remember the pain an excuse for inflicting it on them? My daughter was born in Mexico and several people asked why we didn’t get her ears pierced when she was a baby. As my Mexican husband would tell them “Just because they can’t tell you it hurts doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt.” Although the pain of ear piercing is minimal, it does hurt. There’s also a whole question of imposing gender roles on our kids. I really believe it’s better to wait and let them make that choice for themselves. When my daughter got her ears pierced at nine, it was a milestone, something that she wanted and that she will remember. It was her choice and I think that’s a good thing to give to our kids.

    1. Ana Flores says:

      Thanks for chiming in, Suzanne. I know this topic is wildly controversial and it really has to do with cultural nuances. It’s hard for me to think that my daughter wouldn’t want it because I have yet to meet a Latina who accuses her mom of having pierced their ears without permission.
      As for gender roles, well, both genders use earrings now. And, it’s not mutilation to the body since piercings close if you don’t use earrings for a while.
      Regarding the pain, I think the perception of pain is much stronger the older kids get. Also, there’s a lot more risk of an infection occurring when kids are older since they can put their hands on the piercing and some may put up more of a struggle with the cleaning and such.

      I’m thrilled that it all worked out for you and that it was the right decision for your family!!

  2. Yolanda says:

    I had mine done at 8 days because the doctors made my mom wait for me to get my first shots at 6-7 days. My abuelita was beside herself because I absolutely had to have my ears pierced in time for my baptism (something else done fairly early in our culture) which was when I was 5 weeks old. I can go months without wearing earrings and never fear them closing up because of it and I have never felt “mutilated”.

    On the flip side, my half caucasian-half latina daughter got hers at 2 yrs old (his family was SOOOO against it, I had to have my mom take her to do it when we moved to LA) and because of reason #1 you listed, they got infected twice and closed up. So now, we’re waiting til she is capable of not touching them even though she begs us for them again daily.

    1. Ana Flores says:

      Yolanda, yes…thanks for sharing that story about your daughter messing with the piercing and getting infected. That’s one of the huge problems of doing it while they’re toddlers.
      I so hope she can get her wish soon!! Que bella!

  3. Justice Jonesie says:

    I think that doing this at birth is normal and safe. Our pediatrician did it for us when my daughter was 8 weeks. I was hoping to do it earlier.

  4. Chelsea Torres says:

    I find this particularly interesting because my husband has not allowed his two daughters (ages 10 and 12) to get their ears pierced. Though his mother is from El Salvador and father from PR, they are Pentecostal and believe it is a symbol of vanity and a mutilation of the flesh. Do you think there are religious variations among Latin cultures regarding piercings, or does a true majority support it?

    1. Ana Flores says:

      Chelsea, that’s interesting. The Pentecostal church is huge in Puerto Rico, but not so in El Salvador. The majority of Latin American’s are raised with the Catholic faith and they have no objections against it. In fact, many want to make sure the baby has her ears pierced before she’s baptized, just like Yolanda Machado mentioned in her comment.

  5. Uchi says:

    We also have decided to wait until she wanted. I am not sure if we made the right decision anyway! now She is afraid of doing it:(

  6. tanialuviano says:

    All of my 4 sisters had their ears pierced the day they were born. The said that way it wouldn’t hurt, If I had a girl I think I would do the same thing.

  7. Rachel says:

    I’m funny story! My daughter got her ears pierced at around four months and it was while I was at work by my husband and my sister-in-law. When I got home I was shocked and surprised but in the end I was glad it was fun and she’s beautiful. believe it or not I got my ears pierced at the 22!

  8. Angie Tune says:

    Ana,

    I came across your blog comment looking for another mom’s blog and read your post on when to have have baby’s ears pierced. I thought I’d respond and share my experience with you. Like you, I was unsure and initially against having babies ears pierced at an early age. However, I kept seeing lots of babies and little girls with cute earrings in our church nursery. One day, in our playgroup of moms with little girls, one of the moms came in unannounced with her 2 month daughter sporting little gold balls in her pretty newly pierced ears. She was totally adorable and looked very feminine. Needless to say, all of the moms including myself were in envy asking her a 100 questions. She said it was very easy and her dd
    barely cried. I went home and asked dh what he thought. Surprisingly, he said that really wanted our dd to have earrings since it was traditional in his family. At this point, being a “white bread mommy,” I was unsure how I felt about it, but knew how darling it looked. Well, I said that I would ask our ped for her thoughts at the next visit in a a week.
    When I asked our ped for her opinion about having our dd’s ears pierced, she reached in her pocket and took out a picture of her six month little girl with pearls in each ear, saying,” …this is what I think.” She encouraged me to go ahead and said it was best as an infant when mommy could care for them. She has never had a baby with a pierced ear infection, but has had quite a few older girls ages 2-5 who said they wanted it done, but failed to care for them. She gave me some ” Care Tips for Newly Pierced Ears ” since she had so many moms ask about having their infants and little girls ears pierced. She sadid it was much safer and sterile doing them now and recommended Piercing Pagoda where she took her dd due to their level of professional training and experince with infant ear piercing. I took her tips, followed them, and our dd now has pretty pierced ears at 3 months old :)

    I’d say if any moms are thinking about it, then your mommy intuition is telling earlier is better and I go ahead now as a newborn or infant. Still on the fence about your decision? As Ana stated, this is a good time to do it. Don’t hesitate to write me an e-mail if you’d like our ped’s tips for moms having their dd’s ears pierced. With those from Ana, you’ll be fully ready to decide if you you’re read to have your baby’s ears pierced now.

    Angie
    angietune@hotmail.com

    1. Ana Flores says:

      Angie, wow! Thanks so much for reading my post and for your comment. First of all, you’re lucky to have such a warm and caring pediatrician. I’m glad she was so thorough in letting you know it was OK and led by example.
      You summed up in a few paragraphs what I was trying to get across in my whole post!

  9. Bren @ Flanboyant Eats says:

    what an interesting topic — something I’ve never even thought about. My sis and I had our ears pierced when we were 7, at a local girls’ jewelry store. I remember it not hurting and being really happy. My aunt took us against my father’s will and we all got in trouble! LOL! I went back in my early teens and got a 2nd whole!

  10. Rose-Anne Schmidt says:

    Interesting perspective. I didn’t know about the cultural aspect. I won’t be getting my daughter’s pierced until she asks me. My mom’s were done as a baby and she hated them. They wouldn’t fully close, so she has essentially scars on her ears. I don’t think it is a huge deal, but I would rather let my child decide. For now she has all sorts of fun headbands to dress up her bald little head and let everyone know she’s a girl :)

  11. mae says:

    Love your post, I am from Latin America too and down there they pierce girls’ ears right after delivery. I was actually shocked that up here they make you wait until vaccination because based on that argument half of the female population in my country should be death already. Now I totally understand not doing it because you don’t want the baby to feel pain or because the parents want to let the girl decide but I agree that is much safer to get it done at the hospital on a newborn that have it done on a toddler at the mall.

  12. Michelle says:

    I got my ears pierced when I was 15 after MANY years of begging my mom. She had always said that she would let me do it when I was 16 if I wanted. My Aunt convinced her to let her take me for by 15th birthday. My Mom’s reasoning was she was afraid that I would not take care of them and/or they would get ripped out of my ears on the playground. In retrospect like most things my Mom was probably right! I was very much a girl…a rough and tumble one! I refuse to get my daughter’s ears pierced until she is of similar age. She’s also very active :) and honestly I can’t imagine imposing an unnecessary painful procedure on her. As you say it is very related to culture. I haven’t had one person ask me about getting her ears pierced. Honestly I’m glad we didn’t have a boy and have to decide about circumcision!

  13. Peru Delights says:

    This is so true Ana. I got my ears pierced when I was born, I think. I don’t even remember, which proves how untraumatic it was. And obviously I loved wearing earring as a little girl, and teenager. I became more concerned about earrings when I took an Ayurveda course a couple years ago, and got talking with some of the other students about this subject. It turns out the ears are a very important energy point in accupunture, and by piercing your ears and wearing earrings, one is kinda moving the energy in ways we don’t even know or understand. But honestly, so many women have lived long happy healthy lives with earrings, so HOW BAD could it be?

  14. Catarina says:

    Ana, I am from Brazil and we used to have all the baby girls’ ears pierced at birth. But Brazil has an interesting way of copying almost everything the US does. Not everything. But they copied the regulation which does not permit the nurses to pierce the ears anymore. Now we have to wait until about 4 months and look for a pharmacy or mall where they do it. Doctors don’t. I got my daughter’s ears pierced when she was 4 months at a drugstore, using tiny 14k gold baby earrings (a present from my mother-in-law) which match the little gold bracelet. She was sleeping and continued to do so. She didn’t feel pain. And they did not get infected either. A girl with small golden earrings is just so cute! I don’t see the problem. Good post!

  15. Marie says:

    I just wanted to point out that just because celebrities do it to their kids doesn’t mean that you’re not crazy. I’m not saying you are crazy (I’m certain you’re not), but using celebrities as the standard of doing the right thing is probably not a wise idea.

    I respect everyone’s choice to parent their child the way they want (within reason). I personally would not pierce my daughter’s ears until she was older. My mother’s ears were pierced when she was 21. I pierced mine at 16 in a fit of rebellion. To me, pierced ears make a little girl or baby look strange- like trying to put make-up on a baby! To me, piercings and make-up are both adornments that grown-ups use to be more attractive to the other (or same) sex. But, that’s just my cultural background. Interesting post.

  16. amy says:

    My mom forced me to get my ears pierced at 5 years old. She kept telling me that I would want to wear earrings like all of my classmates etc. I did not want to get them done and I hated having to take care of them all the time. I got several more pierces in my ears as a teenager. I personally would never allow my daughter to get her ears pierced until she is older and can understand how to care for them herself/wants them.

  17. darkness82 says:

    I wanted wait to 3 years. But my husband wanted early so we tried and pierced her years at 11 months. She cried literally 30 seconds i got even movie hehe. I was scared but ladies pierced her both ears at same time so it didnt take too long and it healed withing few days. On the second day it wasnt even red anymore. Dont regreat this decision.

  18. bwsf says:

    My opinion (which is *only* my opinion, of course) is that they should be old enough to ask for it to be done. It’s true that pretty much every little girl ends up wanting earrings at some point, but they gotta wonder when they’re older, maybe when they become parents themselves, “why did they make *that* decision for me?” And I have heard stories about a baby’s skin growing over the earrings, or the earrings being placed completely wrong, and growing out of the body (falling out eventually) or just looking “off”, because of how quickly babies grow. I only have boys, so ya know, who am I to talk. But, those are my 2 cents.

  19. Vivian says:

    I actually wrote a blog post about this, discussing how it’s also part of my Vietnamese culture to get a baby’s ears pierced at an early age. I’ve never given it a second thought!

  20. Theresa says:

    I’m torn on this one. I believe the child should have the right to decide when she is older. I was 8 when I had mine pierced and old enough to care for them and made the decision on my own.
    What I do NOT agree with is when I see a little BOY with his ear pierced. Men in our society may chose a profession where earrings aren’t accepted. BOYS shouldn’t be pierced as infants..no way, no how!

  21. Samantha at ShesNotBroken says:

    I had mine done when I was 4 because I desperately wanted them done. Apparently, I was scared after the first one and wouldn’t do the second until my mother told me I wasn’t going to go around looking like a pirate and we could take out the first one. I didn’t bother having my daughter’s done and my family, aside from my mother, are all vaguely horrified by it. I figure if she wants them done when she’s older, I’ll take her and have them done professionally.

  22. stephanie says:

    my mom got my ears pierced really young (i think i have a pic of maybe 8 months with my earrings in) and then when i was two i had ended up needing to take them out for a whille for medical tests and my ears freakishly closed and i was so upset i cried till my mom took me to get them repiered…it didnt hurt that bad at all and i even decided to get a second ear piercing a little above those when i was 13..it dosent hurt that bad just like a shot but i think it is better to do it younger becuase the idea that its going to hurt worse plays with ur head…and ive never heard a girl complain about having her ears pierced ive only heard them complain when they arnt. and when i have a little girl i fully intend on getting her ears pierced young

  23. Bekah says:

    I live in Costa Rica and I didn’t pierce my baby girl’s ears when she was born. Now I think that she is the only little girl (17 months) that doesn’t have her ears pierced in this country. However, I always say that she can pierce them when she wants to!

  24. Bobi says:

    I got my first daughters ears pierced at 3 months and it was great. They were easy to care for because she was so little and she didn’t bother them so they healed quickly without any issues. She’s now two and loves her earrings. She doesn’t bother them at all because she’s used to them. To her – they’ve always been there. My second daughter is now two months and I plan to get hers done at three months, too :)

  25. Sara says:

    I have given my fiancee all of these reasons already to get our daughter’s ears pierced and not one of them are good enough for him!! Lol he wants to wait until she’s older and can choose. I never knew a girl who didn’t want pierced ears, either , but, they do heal and close up, if they do decide to stop wearing them!! Grammy and I have almost convinced him, though, and she has 1/4 karat diamonds waiting for her!

  26. Emese says:

    In Romania we also pierce the girls ears in the first week after delivery. My baby was 5 days old and she didn’t cried at all.

  27. Ashley says:

    I have 3 girls and all three of there ears were pierced at 2 months old! I ABSOLUTELY love it.

  28. Amber says:

    my baby Journey had her ears done at 7 weeks old. They were all healed up before she even realized she had ears lol super cute!! But i would suggest making sure to alternate which side baby lays on if side layer. We had a bit of a tear from her laying on same side, but alternating really made a difference.

  29. I enjoy, lead to I discovered exactly what I was taking a look for. You’ve ended my four day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day. Bye

  30. Debbie says:

    I managed to persuade my partner to let me take my daughter, Sophie, to have her ears pierced when she was three months old although he wasn’t very keen and suggested I wait until she was older and could decide for herself. Then when he saw how lovely she looked sporting a little 3 mm gold ball stud on each lobe, he completely changed his mind and is glad I took the initiative to make this decision for her.

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