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Baby Ear Piercing Tips: Age, Risks, Infection, Aftercare & Locations

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Baby ear piercing is a common practice in many places around the world, primarily done to girls. It is usually carried out at birth or a few days or weeks after birth. There are various reasons why parents may want to have their babies’ ears pierced. According to experts, infant ear piercing poses little or no risks or complications.

Reasons for Baby Ear Piercing

In both the United States of America and Latin America, it is customary to pierce ears of a baby girl immediately or a few days after birth. In these two cultures, it is generally believed that it is less painful to pierce a newborn as compared to an older child.

Baby ear piercing
Baby girl ear piercing with a cute earring

Additionally, in Latin America as well as Spain, baby girls are pierced so as to enable them to grow up with this valued traditional symbol of femininity. In fact, it is unsurprising to find newborn girls leave their hospitals of birth already wearing golden studs on their ears.

Studies have shown that children of less than 12 years are least susceptible to keloids. Therefore, this is the ideal time to have your child’s ears pierced, especially in families that are known to be prone to keloids.

Best Age for Baby Ear Piercing

You can have your baby pierced at birth or a few days after birth. In United States of America, Latin American and Spain, the baby’s ears are sometimes pierced at this time.

Infant ear piercing
Baby ear piercing

However, at birth the baby’s ears are too small and the piercing can be easily misplaced. In addition, the baby’s immunity is still not well-developed. As such, the baby may be prone to infections on the piercing site.

Age 2 is also considered a suitable time to have your baby’s ears pierced. At this age, your baby’s body is less prone to allergies and infections because of having undergone immunization. Also, the skin is still soft but not as delicate as at birth. Besides, your child will be old enough to understand a few instructions.

According to the American academy of pediatrics, ear piercing can be done at any age with minimal risk, so long as it is carefully and hygienically performed.

However, the academy recommends that you should wait until the child is old enough so that she can take care of the piercing by herself. Furthermore, this will give the children an opportunity to make a choice about having their ears pierced.

Baby ear piercing
A cute baby girly with an ear piercing

This is the reason why the ideal age for ear piercing for some parents is 6 years. Although it can be done later, it is highly recommended that you let your children have their ears pierced before age 12 to avoid keloids.

Nevertheless, despite these recommendations, the time and age at which parents have the children pierced often depend on the customs of their culture.

Basically, the time your baby gets pierced does not actually matter. What is really important is to ensure it is done properly by a qualified professional.

Baby Ear Piercing Safety and Precautions

According to American Academy of Pediatrics, piercing is generally safe at any age. What is most important is that it should be carried out by a professional piercer in hygienic conditions. This should be followed by proper aftercare measures.

Ideally, baby ear piercing should be located at the conventional earlobe spot. This is at the bottom ear lobe, which does not have a cartilage. Any other spot on the ear is not meant for childhood piercing and is not recommended by pediatrics.

The choice of the earring is also very important. It should be a gold-post earring of at least 14 karat, but if possible 24 karat. Gold is a metal of choice because it is not likely to cause allergies or infections.

Baby ear piercing
Baby ear piercing with a heart earring

Alternatives to gold include a surgical steel or gold-plated surgical steel earrings. Avoid other earrings as they may trigger allergies and infections, making the healing process longer.

Choose earrings that are small round and flat on the front. They should have good fasteners which properly cover the back of the earring entirely, without leaving any protruding part that may hurt the baby.

Baby Ear Piercing Procedure

Essentially, baby ear piercing procedure is similar to that for adults. However, extra care should be taken since the baby’s ears are still relatively soft and delicate. The general steps taken are as outlined below:

Step 1: The piercer first cleans and disinfects the piercing site with alcohol or any other suitable disinfectant.

Step 2: The piercer will now apply a topical Anastasia. This only minimizes but does not completely get rid of pain during piercing.

Step 3: After the anesthesia takes effect, the piercer carefully makes a perforation through the earlobe, usually using a sterile piercing needle.

Step 4: The piercer now carefully fits the holes with gold-post earrings or any other suitable ones. The primary function of these earnings is to prevent the holes from closing.

Step 5: Lastly, the piercer cleans the piercing site and again applies a disinfectant on it, including the earrings and the surrounding area.

After the procedure, the piercer will give aftercare instructions to be followed to the parents or the caretaker who accompanies the baby to the piercer.

Risks and Possible Complications

If any, the risks and complications that come with baby ear piercing are mainly due to failure to follow the recommended practices.

These practices include going to a professional piercer and strictly observing aftercare procedures. In addition, the kind of earring used should equally be the recommended type.

The risks and complications of baby ear piercing are usually physical although studies have shown that there also could be mental risks.

Physical Risks

Misplaced piercing: The baby’s ears are very small. Hence, it is possible for the piercer to locate the piercing at the wrong position, especially when they are not professionals.

Traumatic tearing: This may occur when the baby’s ear is tugged at, especially when dangling earrings are used. In most cases, the baby tugs her ears with her hands unknowingly. However, the baby’s clothes may tug at her pierced ears as they are taken off.

Infections: It is not uncommon for your baby’s ears to get infected, especially when aftercare measures are not well adhered to. Typically, the symptoms of infected ear piercing include redness, swelling, itching, pain and/or tenderness.

Allergic reaction: Allergies have visible symptoms such as an itchy rash a, weeping skin, pain and in extreme cases bleeding and pus. Allergies are primarily caused by the use of unsuitable material such as bad earrings, especially because they are cheap.

Embedded earrings: If not checked from time to time, the earrings may get embedded, especially as a result of an allergy or an infection. This is why you have to keep an eye on the babies newly pierced ears.

Keloids: A keloid refers to a raised unsightly fibrous growth that constitutes a cosmetic deformity. It usually develops after surgical procedures or a trauma and it is quite common on ears. Usually, it builds up into a lump of tissue that is normally larger than the initial wound. Keloids tend to run in the family. Generally, they cannot be easily treated, not even surgically because they usually recur.

Mental Risks

Apparently, piercing babies may also lead to various mentally related disorders later in their lives. A study showed that those who were pierced while they were babies exhibited certain signs of rebellion.

These signs included the inclination to having more and possibly extreme body modification such as further body piercing, tattoos, and funny hairstyles.

Other studies have associated baby piercing with later undesirable habits. For example girls with piercings were found to be more likely to smoke cigarettes and use marijuana [1].

It is believed that further body modification as a result of baby ear piercing act as markers of social problematic behaviors. Such behaviors include illicit sexual intercourse, running away from home and suicidal tendencies.

Too many piercings on the ear

Mental Risks
These signs included the inclination to having more and possibly extreme body modification such as further body piercing, tattoos, and funny hairstyles.

  • Further body piercing
  • Elicit sexual intercourse
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Running away from home

Despite the findings of such studies, it is still difficult to conclusively relate the casual factors of these behavior patterns to baby ear piercing. Therefore, it is safe not to be bothered by these associated mental risks.

How to Prevent the Complications

Prevention of baby ear piercing complications is anchored on observing precautions and proper aftercare measures. Some of them have already been outlined in the early sections of this article.

  1. Avoid using dangling earrings because the baby or something else could tug at them, causing injuries or traumatic tearing.
  2. Carefully and gently rotate the earring or push it from side to side twice per day. Do not remove the earring until it is 6 weeks old unless there is a problem such as an infection.
  3. Handle a piercing site with clean hands. Ensure your hands are thoroughly washed before touching your baby’s ears.
  4. Apply some disinfectant (alcohol or any other recommended one) around the piercing twice a day for about 6 weeks since piercing to keep away bacteria.
  5. Keep the piercing site out of dust. It is known to be a career of bacteria which might cause an infection on the piercing.
  6. Closely monitor the piercing to ensure it is out of infection. Check for signs of infection that may include pain, inflammation and discharge.

In case you notice any sign of infection, take off the earring and clean it with alcohol. Let your doctor know this so that he or she can advise you on any further action. Your doctor may give specialized treatment or recommend that you apply a particular topical medication.

Emerging Issues on Baby Ear Piercing

In United States and United Kingdom, baby ear piercing has become a controversial issue. There is contestation whether the baby’s parents or caregiver should have the right to consent to the piercing on behalf of the baby.

Furthermore, some children’s rights organizations and individuals have a view that baby ear piercing inflicts pain and fear. Consequently, they have made claims that baby ear piercing amounts to physical abuse and child cruelty.

As a result, many have petitioned that the practice be declared illegal and a minimum age be set for ear piercing. Nevertheless, whether or not to pierce a baby’s ear primarily still remains a parent’s prerogative [2].

Baby boy ear piercing
Baby boy ear piercing is not very common

Baby Ear Piercing Locations

You can easily find a place when you can have a child pierced using Google search engine. Just open the browser and type in the words ‘baby ear piercing places’ and hit ‘enter’.

The Google search results will automatically include a map of places that offer baby ear piercing near your place. The results for places are usually displayed at the top of the search results.

The results will usually include the reviews which other people who know or have used the services of the places. Reading the reviews also help you make a good choice from the places shown from the search.

Sources and References
    1. Behaviour Research and Therapy: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0005796796001271?via%3Dihub
    2. Indians, Hispanics and Nigerians defend Kylie Jenner over baby’s pierced ears: https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-44885213
    3. Petition looks to make baby ear-piercing illegal: https://www.krmg.com/news/national/petition-looks-make-baby-ear-piercing-illegal/yGVrJ7CMw2U8XTe6GEUMcM/

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