Is it right to pierce baby ears?

pierced baby ear

I love earrings. I don’t always wear them, but they generally make me happy. In fact, I recently bought new earrings from the awesome people of Tech Girl and they are ridiculously pretty and geeky. They make me happy. Here, look at how cool they are!

Yay! Thank you so much @techgirlza for my amazing geek jewelry! #geek #earrings

A photo posted by Zoe Hawkins (@moonstormer) on

I was ten when I got my ears pierced, and it was sort of a coming of age experience for me. I only knew a few other girls with pierced ears and it was a big deal to be allowed to get them pierced, and then to do all the stuff necessary to take care of them. I only knew a couple girls whose ears were pierced as babies and I remember even then wondering about the pros and cons of it. Sure, it’s great that they didn’t have any memory of getting their ears pierced, but they also didn’t have the significance, either.

This is a decision that I will have to make for Harley, and I’m pretty torn about it. It seems to be a common thing to do in South Africa with baby girls. And I get it, it can make the whole experience a whole lot easier on the kid – she doesn’t have to do the cleaning and care for the piercing and it’s not that much extra work for me considering all the cleaning and ointments babies need anyway. She won’t remember the pain and she’ll get to enjoy wearing fun earrings from an early age. All sound reasons to do it.

But what about the choice factor? What if she grows up to be one of those “my body is intact” people and resents me forever for piercing her before she was old enough to consent? Or what if it’s robbing her of a coming of age experience she could have further down the line? Or what if she doesn’t want to lumped in with all the other girls wearing pretty earrings, and simply by having pierced ears feels uncomfortable?

Of course, Harley will end up resenting me forever no matter what I do. That’s the joy of parenthood, isn’t it? But really, as common as it is, is it really the best thing to pierce a baby’s ears, or should I just let her grow up and decide on her own body modifications? I know, I’m not giving her a tattoo or something, but a piercing is still forever, and as mainstream as pierced ears may be, who knows if it’s something she will want when she grows up.

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  • My mom had mine done when I was a year old – and I do actually remember pulling away from the gun, and i remember that it was loud… But I think I have much stronger ideas about bodily autonomy than my mom did, and for the same reason I won’t ever circumcise my son if I ever have one, I also won’t pierce my girls’ ears… They are not my property to do with as I please, even if I think earrings look super cute on little girls… Both my girls, 4 & 6, have expressed interest at some stage, so I showed them videos on Youtube of how the piercing is done – and both said they’d rather wait… and I’m ok with that – they are also learning how to deal with peer pressure for themselves (they have friends with recently pierced ears) so I feel they are learning important lessons, and yeah, I think it will be a fun outing one day, complete with some froyo and some shopping when we eventually do get their ears pierced – wouldn’t want to miss out on that!

    • Her Highness the Hipster

      indeed! I’m looking forward to the day she can learn about it and decide if it’s something she wants, pick out the earrings she likes, etc. Or not. Also, waiting is important for teaching her that her body is HERS to control, no one else’s, even if it is a relative or whatever.

      • What a special experience and a great lesson all in one! Doing it earlier almost feels selfish… like she gets all the pain without the fun…

  • Chastin Ceri Dreyer

    I only have boys but if I had a girl I would wait until she asked- piercing by gun is disgustingly un-hygenic and very damaging for ears so i would want it done with a needle at a proper and reputable piercing parlor, it is also their body and therefor their choice its not going to help them in any way its complete vanity so would def wait, my best friend from school never pierced her ears and never will she just never wanted it done, I have only witnessed one baby having it done and that baby screamed the store down

    • Her Highness the Hipster

      Agreed – mine were done at a doctor’s office, actually, just to ensure it was totally hygienic. Would have to be a place that was totally clean, and when she’s old enough to handle the experience.