Have you been thinking about decorating your child’s ears with shiny piercings? Are you not sure if they’re old enough?
Many parents make the mistake of taking their children to get their ears pierced too early. This can be upsetting for the child, and it’s not good for healing.
But when should you consider ear piercing for kids? Let’s talk about it. Read on to learn more.
Baby Ear Piercing: Yes or No?
It’s popular (though getting less popular over time) to pierce a child’s ears when they’re still an infant. Is this really the best choice for your child?
The obvious answer is “no.” It’s rarely appropriate to modify a child’s body when they’re an infant, unless it’s for medical purposes. There’s no need for your infant to wear earrings, and you might actually be putting them at risk.
Most qualified piercers will refuse to pierce the ears of infants. Some nurses will pierce an infant’s ears, but nurses are not piercing professionals. It’s common for these piercings to end up uneven, meaning that the child will have to get them redone when they get older.
Children are still growing.
Babies often grab at their earrings. This opens them up to injuries and potential infections. A baby is not yet capable of taking care of their piercings, and many parents don’t know about proper piercing care.
There is some gray area here. Piercing a baby’s ears is a common cultural practice. While it’s getting less popular, this is one rare exception that some qualified piercers will make when it comes to baby ear piercing.
In short: in most cases, it’s not appropriate to pierce an infant’s ears.
Letting the Child Choose
So when can you pierce a child’s ears?
Let’s reframe how we’re talking about this. Instead of making the choice for your child, think of it as letting the child get their ears pierced. You want the child to make the decision on their own.
Children who don’t feel as though the adults in their lives are pressuring them to get their ears pierced are more likely to have a good experience. They’ll be able to enter the piercing shop without any fear.
This also allows children to choose their jewelry rather than you choosing it for them. Let your child express themselves!
Even if a child decides that they want ear piercings, they may change their mind when they get to the piercing shop. Good piercers know how to talk to kids, and they’ll be happy to reschedule you if the child decides to back out.
How Old Is That?
Okay, so if a child should be able to choose to get piercings, how old should they actually be?
This depends on the child. Most of the time, piercers won’t pierce children until they’re at least five years old. Some prefer to wait until a child is eight.
There’s no one right age. As long as your child is able to ask for piercings with enthusiasm, you know that you’re getting close.
Gauging Maturity Level
Sometimes being able to ask for piercings isn’t enough. You know your child, so you need to take their maturity level into consideration when you’re deciding whether or not they’re old enough for ear piercings.
Remember that ear piercings are wounds. Contrary to popular belief, they don’t heal right away (we’ll discuss more about healing later). Children need to be old enough to avoid touching their piercings and to use basic piercing care.
Children who are still fickle may not be suitable for piercings. You want to make sure that the child is capable of making a permanent decision. While you can always remove piercings, the intention is to keep them for a lifetime.
It’s okay to take a child who is prone to crying into a piercing shop for ear piercings. As long as the child wants the piercings, a few tears are okay. They aren’t a gauge for your child’s maturity.
Where to Go for Ear Piercing for Kids
So with that in mind, where should you go for your piercing appointment?
The absolute best option is to go to a professional piercing shop. High-quality professional piercers know all about piercing children’s ears. They know how to make the child feel safe and comfortable, and they give the child autonomy over their choices.
Some parents who aren’t used to piercings or tattoos may feel uncomfortable with piercing shops. Keep in mind that not all piercing shops offer tattoos, but even if they do, they also see plenty of children for piercings. As long as the shop isn’t only for adults, you will be welcome there.
Adults who have tattoos and piercings understand how clean and safe piercing shops are. Good piercing shops are often as clean as medical offices.
Piercers understand everything that there is to know about piercing. They use sterile needles, offer healing advice, and place each piercing in the perfect spot. There’s nothing to be afraid of.
It’s also helpful to acclimate your child to people who look “different” while they’re still young. A piercing (or tattoo and piercing) shop is a great environment for this.
Where Not to Go for Kids’ Ear Piercing
So you’ve been tempted to take your child to a mall shop for their ear-piercing appointment. Stop right there! This is the worst choice.
People at these shops don’t go through piercing apprenticeships. They don’t learn about proper anatomy, and they often give bad healing advice. The jewelry at these shops isn’t appropriate for healing piercings.
These shops also use piercing guns. While professional piercers use hollow needles that are sanitary and sharp enough to minimize pain, piercing guns are not sterile and they’re dull enough that they will always cause more pain.
Appropriate Starting Jewelry for Kids
When you go to a professional piercing shop, your piercer will advise you on the best types of jewelry for fresh piercings. Keep in mind that you can change this jewelry later (after the healing period), but to start out, stick with what the shop offers.
Children have sensitive ears, so it’s best to stick with implant-grade (not stainless) steel or titanium posts. On each side of the posts, you can add plain ends or even gems.
These posts should either be threadless or have internal threading.
After the piercings heal, your child can choose from plenty of kids’ jewelry options for short-term wear, as long as the earrings don’t bother their skin. For long-term wear, stick with safer metals.
Tips for Caring for and Healing New Piercings
New piercing care is crucial if you want a successful healing process. Your child should be responsible for their piercing care, but make sure to check on them every so often to make sure that they’re doing everything right.
Avoid any harsh substances, like alcohol. It’s best to use sterile saline or even just hot water on the piercings. Harsher substances can cause irritation even if they seem antibacterial.
Make sure that the child doesn’t touch their piercings. It’s a common myth that spinning piercings while they’re healing stops them from “sticking” to the child’s skin, but this isn’t true. With high-quality jewelry, there will be no sticking (although there may be a crust or blood on the piercings that makes them feel stuck).
Rinse any “crusties” off of the child’s ears, so the child doesn’t pick at their piercings.
The piercing healing process takes longer than you may think. Always go back to a piercer if there are problems or if you think it’s time to downsize the piercings. They will tell you whether or not the piercings are done healing.
Multiple Ear Piercings: When Is It Okay?
So what about when your child wants multiple piercings on each ear? Is there a right time for that?
First, make sure that the child has already healed from their initial piercing. This should take about six months, but it varies depending on the child.
After that healing period, if your child wants more piercings on their lobes, it should be safe to do so. That said, if your child wants cartilage piercings, it’s best to wait until they’re older. Some piercers won’t give a child cartilage piercings until they’re a teenager.
Those piercings are harder to take care of and more painful, so they require more maturity.
Is Your Child Ready for Ear Piercings?
Ear piercing for kids isn’t always straightforward. You have to think carefully about whether or not your child is ready to modify their body.
Remember, piercing infants is almost never appropriate. A good piercer will let you know what age they’re comfortable piercing. Let your child choose when they get their ears pierced, so they’re enthusiastic about their new jewelry.
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Photo source: Britt Reints