February 23, 2013

To Pierce or Not to Pierce?

I still remember when I went to get my ears pierced with my mom. I was around 12 years old and as we were passing a Claire's, my mom casually asked me if I wanted to get my ears pierced. I wasn't one of those girls who yearned to get my ears pierced so I had never asked to get it done before. I probably answered along the lines of "Sure. Why not?" My mom and I proceeded to pick out my first pair of earrings and it was exciting to get them pierced. My mom and I then picked out more earrings to buy and I was so thrilled when I went home and couldn't wait to clean them. I cleaned them diligently the next following days and loved them. I adored my diamond studs and thought I was so cool. I also thought my mom was so cool for going with me and picking out earrings with me. This is one of the memories that I've always retained from my youth. So naturally, I just figured I would do the same with my daughter.

Fast forward years from then, and here I am seriously itching to get Noelle's ears pierced. It was actually never a concern or desire of mine to pierce her ears and the idea never even came up in conversation between Joey and I, or anyone else for that matter. Than all of a sudden I saw an infant with her ears pierced. I nearly died; It was SO cute. Too cute. I couldn't handle it. Then after I noticed that baby, I noticed ALL the babies with their ears pierced. This became a fever, very much like when I was feverish for an engagement ring, and then feverish again every time I spotted a pregnant woman or a baby. Now all I see is little baby girls with darling studs and tiny hoops. Then we went to Frankie Jo's birthday party and the little princess had pearls in her ears!

I brought the idea up to Joey and got shot down fairly quickly. However I continued my polling and conversation with other parents and moms to see what they felt.

The general positive responses were: 

  • Do it while they are young, so they don't remember. 
  • Do it now while you can clean the piercings for them.
  • Do it now, might as well, all girls get their ears pierced.

The general negative responses were:

  • You should let her decide if she wants her ears pierced.
  • How can you put her in that pain without her consent?
  • Let her get them pierced when she's responsible and old enough to care for them.

I can see both sides of this picture, but I'm at a complete crossroads.

A large part of me wants to get the experience over and done with, because frankly, even if she's in a bit of pain, it isn't so different from her getting her vaccinations. She's in pain then, but we still do it. And boys get circumcised, which is painful, but still the parents make that decision on behalf of the baby. I feel that even if she's hurting for that moment, in the long run it could be better because I can clean, disinfect and take care of her piercings for her. And frankly, I don't have any friends that are women that don't have their ears pierced. If she doesn't want to wear earrings one day, that would be her choice and the holes will close up after she stops wearing earrings. In my crazy days I had three piercings on both earlobes and now I only have two total.

The other half of me feels like it would be a very special memory and moment if she was old enough and aware of her decision to get her ears pierced. I thought it was so cool when I first got my ears pierced and it was a special thing between my mom and me. However, I do remember being so terrified before the lady pierced my ears that I was nauseous. I also still remember the pain. Obviously, after child birth, now an ear piercing would be a day in paradise for me, but at the moment I was VERY aware that someone had just punched two holes into my body.

Personal feelings aside, I also looked into "professional" opinions. Useful information (both risks and benefits) that I found:

  • Pediatrician's still do ear piercings with needles if you ask them to, which is safer than piercing guns at the mall. Why? Because while the technicians at the mall use new needles for each piercing procedure, the guns themselves cannot be sterilized, therefore can still transmit hepatitis or another infection. Also some of these people may not be properly trained and/or do not have enough experience.
  • That being said, not all pediatrician's will do it. Sometimes it comes down to their own personal beliefs on the often controversial topic (had no idea that it was such a hot spot for people). Also, not all pediatrician's have done it enough to make the piercings as even or placed correctly as a professional body piercer.
  • You can maximize the safety of the piercing by making sure the technician or pediatrician that is piercing the ears has washed their hands prior, put on gloves, and sterilized the child's earlobes first. It's not rude to ask how long the person has been piercing ears or how often they have done them. A recommendation I found was for a technician to have performed average of 5 piercing a day for a year.
  • You can give your baby infants' acetaminophen or ibuprofen before the procedure to lessen the pain. Also, ask if the place offers numbing ointment, some pediatrician's will have this. (Specifically Pace Pediatric in Eagan.)
  • Because babies/toddlers may be constantly touching their ears, you may have to clean the area even more often than the normal recommendation to lessen the chance of infection.
  • Using 14 karat gold earrings and/or surgical steel is the way to go. Anything else is more prone to case an allergic reaction. But even with that being said, not everyone is the same and even 14 karat gold or surgical steel can cause reactions in certain people. That's a risk that you would be willing to take and something that you need to be aware of after the piercing to look for.
  • For anyone who is worried about the baby removing the earring and swallowing it, all piercing places sell and offer earrings with "screw" backs instead of normal backs, which little fingers cannot remove.
  • It is completely safe to pierce ears after 2 months, and in many other cultures babies leave the hospital with their ears pierced! Keep them clean and no harm done!
  • Do not remove the earrings for at least 6 weeks and don't put in earrings that are not gold for at least the first year!
  • Clean AT LEAST 2x a day with hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol, and also gently rotate the earrings throughout the day to prevent scar tissue from attaching to the posts.
  • Obviously, hoops and dangling earrings are more hazardous than studs because they may be accidentally (or deliberately!) torn out of the earlobes during play. Having babies and toddlers wear studs is the safest option. 
  • Be careful of embedded earrings. Although this can happen to even older people, it's especially hard to remove out of babies. This is a risk that you are taking if you want to get your baby's ears pierced. (This is when part of the earring goes into the ear piercing and gets stuck, aka "embedded.")
  • Many places offer to pierce both ears at the same time. Don't do it, because even the slightest flinch from your baby and boom, they are uneven.
  • A strange place that you wouldn't initially find desirable to pierce your baby's ears is a tattoo and body piercing shop, but they often use hollow needles that remove tissue instead of forcing it apart, and these experts are usually very trained and experienced. The removed tissue from the hollow needle will create a clean wound that heals faster and as a smaller chance of infection. Also, piercing studio's are required by law to meet hospital grade sanitation - which is as sanitary as it gets.
  • A weird, yet convenient place that does ear piercing? Target Clinic. Seriously! It is offered on their list of services!

With all that being said, we still haven't made a decision because I'm still torn between "getting it over and done with" or having that special mother daughter bonding experience. I've heard both good and bad stories from both ends of the spectrum so in the end, I don't care much for anyone else's opinion, but just need to make up my mind on my own. Until then, Noelle has been wearing stick on earrings, and she looks ADORABLE.

What do you think?


  1. Was searching for a GF's blog and started reading your interesting one. Came to your post, "To Pierce or not to Pierce." Like you, I was on the fence, but after asking our ped, I was convinced it was best to do when mommy could care for them. There were two main reasons:

    First, I asked my pediatrician, and she said when mommy is ready. They won’t play with them (less infection risk) you can make sure they are cleaned, and it will hurt less when they are younger (less emotional ‘pain’ or fear). Modern sterile methods with disposable ear piercing earrings make it more desirable and better done under two years old. This is true because mommy is caring for them. How do they really do having it done as infants and toddlers? Well, she cried just long enough for me to pick her up, and it was over. She is now 18 months, and we have never had any issues.

    Second, why did I decide to have our dd's ears at 14 mos? Well, Like you, I kept seeing more and more babies and little girls with cute earrings and that pushed me to go ahead. I followed our ped's tips on finding the right place, type of earrings to use and aftercare of newly pierced ears. I took her to Piercing Pagoda (where our ped took her daughter), she did fine and looked soO cute.

    With stickers on her ears, you have a good idea how she'll look. Still unsure, hold a pair of your pearl studs up to her ears in front of the mirror so she can see too. Warning: she'll look adorable. My BGF told me to do this in order to convince dh whow as a unsure. Once he saw her smile after seeing how she'd look with little earrings, we both wanted it done. She did fine with them.

    If you or other moms are thinking about it or wanting some more info, then write me an e-mail for our ped's tips.


  2. Thanks Amy for the information! I'm leaning towards doing it!! Will keep you posted. Thanks for reading! :)


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