On Ear Piercing

The very first thing I learned about my friend Lindsey was that she wanted to get her ears pierced, and she was almost allowed to.  We were eleven years old, and it was the first day of sixth grade.  I’m pretty sure our conversation that day consisted of ear piercing, awful/awesome 90s music, and making fun of our homeroom teacher’s last name.  But mostly?  Ear piercing.  Because while she had to wait until her twelfth birthday, the following August, my ears were already pierced…and had been for as long as I could remember.

My mom had my ears pierced at the pediatrician’s office…when I was just 6 weeks old.  My sisters’ ears were pierced early as well – all well before their first birthdays.  To me, it was always normal to have your ears pierced early in life…until I met Lindsey and realized that maybe it wasn’t.

Ear piercing in babies can be a surprisingly polarizing issue, and one so many people have strong feelings about.  When we found out we were having a little girl, one of the first things I researched was how early we could get her ears pierced.  I choose our pediatrician’s office in part because they do offer ear piercing if you’d rather they do it.  At some of Abbie’s early checkups, I made sure to ask when I could pierce her ears – I’d wanted to be able to get it done while I was still on maternity leave.  Since the pediatrician suggested waiting until six months, that didn’t happen quite like I planned.

For the past few months, it’s been haunting me.  Every girl on my mom’s side of my family has had her ears pierced as a baby.  I’m not sure if it’s a New York thing or a Jewish thing.  I could almost hear my grandmother’s voice asking me why her ears weren’t pierced yet.

On Saturday, we finally had Abbie’s ears pierced.

Some people think you shouldn’t pierce a baby’s ears.  Some people think you should wait until your child’s old enough to take care of their own ears.  Some people think it’s cruel.  Some people want to save it for a special occasion or outing when their child is older.  There’s nothing wrong with any of those, but that wasn’t the right decision for us.

So why did we pierce her ears so early?

  • First of all, tradition.  It’s been done in my family for as long as anyone can remember.
  • Right now I can do all the work of taking care of them for her.  She pretty much never touches her ears.  If I waited until she was older, she’d be much more likely to touch them and mess with them, and much more likely to get them infected.
  • She won’t remember it hurting.  I personally have always loved that my mom pierced my ears as an infant.  I’m a wimp and don’t handle needles well.  Since mine were done, I was always able to wear earrings without any of the pain.  I never worried about any infections.  Also, since my ear piercing is almost as old as me, the chance is slim that they’d ever close even if I stopped wearing earrings completely.
  • Honestly, they’re stinkin’ adorable.  Plus, now it’ll be much less likely that people think she’s a boy!  (Yes, it’s happened…even when she’s wearing pink or purple.)

Moms of girls – have you pierced your daughter’s ears, or am I alone on this?  I’m curious to see where people stand.  It’s pretty traditional in some parts of the world (babies in Latin countries often leave the hospital with their ears pierced) and frowned upon in others.  Like all aspects of parenting, it gets debated, even though there’s no right or wrong answer.


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Jess Beer is a full-time working mom of two girls who writes about motherhood, wellness, easy meals and style.

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21 Responses

  1. We haven’t pierced Harpers ears yet but we have no place that does it around where we live. I plan on doing it sometime, but I just haven’t really had the chance yet. I think I was like 2 or 3 when I got mine done. I vaguely remember it.

  2. Awe she looks so cute! I don’t really know where I stand on it. I’m worried that the backing digs into their head while they sleep and they are unable to tell us. Then I’m worried about the pain of course. Yet I don’t want to wait until she is too old to handle it. SO honestly, I don’t know, LOL

  3. Like you almost all the girls in my family had their ears pierced as babies, We are TTC and honestly not sure were I stand on it. I know if we have a boy he will NOT be circumcised. Because 1: It is unnecessary 2: It should be his choice when he is old enough to make it. I kinda think ear piercing may fall along the same lines ( although not nearly as serious.)

    I agree with most of your points on getting it done early, however all babies are different and if my baby likes to grab their ears that will be a deal breaker for me. As far as pain, the actual piercings are not that bad, it is more of the few days after when they are swollen that I would be concerned about.

    Great post, gives me yet another aspect of parenting to think about lol. Kala @ TheWishfulLamb.com

  4. I had my ears pierced on my 13th birthday (the earliest my parents would let me). Having waited for so long, I think I’m going to wait and let my potential daughters decide if that’s something they want (maybe when they’re around 10).

  5. I got Sammy’s ears pierced once she was able to (after her two month shots) and I think I made a bigger deal out of it than it actually was (I mean she just had 3 shots, and then to give her basically 2 more shots!). In my culture, girls’ ears are pierced as babies so I definitely thought it was weird growing up when other girls had to actually ask permission to get their ears pierced. Anyway, it’s all in how you were raised. There’s nothing wrong with piercing ears when they’re a baby or grown up. I’ve had zero problems with them, Sammy doesn’t even notice them, and with the lack of hair on her head, it helps her look more like a girl 🙂

  6. I love this, especially the part about people knowing that she’s a girl. I need to see if my pediatrician’s office does it…I never even thought about that! I had mine done when I was somewhere in elementary school and I almost wish that it was done later or much earlier.

  7. I got my ears pierced when I was 10 and my mom made a HUGE deal out of it being a special treat for being in double digits, and I thought it was so cool and so exciting. So I’m thinking I will follow that tradition with Kenley. People really do feel so strongly about pierced ears which is so strange to me. I think you have great reasons for doing it and shouldn’t have to put up with any nonsense.

  8. I wasn’t allowed to get my ears pierced until I was 10 and it was a very big deal/special occassion for me so I think if I have girls that is how I would handle it. I also have very sensitive skin/ears so I can only wear real gold or sterling silver and no fake stuff so I worry that would happen to my daughter so I would want to wait until she was older.

  9. My mom and I got our ears pierced at the same time – I was 12 and she was 43. Pierced ears weren’t a big thing on either side of the family, and piercing as an infant wasn’t considered. For me, it was a cool coming-of-age treat that made me feel grown up, like shaving my legs or wearing a little makeup. I made my mom go first so I could see how much it hurt – haha. I remember staring at a New Kids on the Block poster trying to focus on anything other than what was going on. 🙂

  10. How old is she? One thing the girl at the Piercing Pagoda said was that if you wait until 2, you might as well wait until about 5 or 6 since from 2-4 they’re very likely to mess with them.

  11. It’s definitely a pretty personal decision. So far the backings don’t seem to bother her at all. She squirms a little when I clean them, but I think it’s just her being an active little girl. She cried for MAYBE 15 seconds when they did it but then forgot about it. Good luck in your decision!

  12. I think there are definite similarities between ear piercing and circumcision – for me, if we ever have a boy, he will be because of my religion (I’m Jewish). They’re both highly personal decisions that deserve discussion!

  13. Hahaha, yes! I was SO much more nervous about it than Chris was, which is why I made him hold her during the piercing! For me it’s a cultural thing too, and I felt so much better now that it’s done. And it DEFINITELY shows for sure that she’s a girl!

  14. You should! Even though we ended up doing it at the mall, I wanted to make sure they did in case I wanted them to. I don’t remember mine not being pierced, and it was important to me that it was the same for Abbie.

  15. That’s so cool that she made it a special occasion – I think that’s one of the best reasons to wait, and I bet you’ll never forget that day!

  16. I LOVE the special occasion stuff – that’s the one thing Abbie won’t really have in this respect. I was concerned about her skin, but I choose piercing earrings that are real gold, and the hoops my mom has for her to wear (that I wore and all of my sisters did too!) are real gold as well. I figure she can try the fake stuff when she’s in middle school or so and see how she reacts to it.

  17. That’s too funny that you did it at the same time! I’m a wuss with needles and jumpy when I’m nervous, so I’m not sure I could’ve handled it had my mom waited with mine!

  18. Very interesting- I’m enjoying all the comments too! I was one of the ‘special-occasions’ too, when I turned 10 it was a huge deal to get mine done. I think that’s fun, but they also look SO cute on lil babes so who knows where I’ll be on this when I actually have a kid! 🙂

  19. I think most of us have our babies and little girls ears pierced for fun then for vanity. I don’t know anyone that ever pierced their ears just to look better. Most of us just want to be able to wear pretty earrings…just like pretty dresses or pretty shoes or pretty handbags….because its fun. It’s not vanity for little girls to play princess. Big girls like to dress up too. 🙂 It’s fun for little girls and mommy too when we dress up, and for most people, earrings are just part of the outfit. 🙂

    Somewhere along the way I became one of those mamas who became all googly-eyed over other babies and toddlers who had pierced ears saying how adorable they were. One day I put my pearls in and wondered how my dd would like with little pearls. As I held my pearl studs up to her ears in front of the mirror, she smiled and I knew it was time at 13 months. Baby ear piercing can be a heated issue for many new moms and dads. Some parents can hardly wait to pierce their new little one’s ears, while other parents consider it a rite of passage that should be given to the child at a later age. Cultural reasons or family traditions may also factor into why some baby’s ears are pierced. I had mine done when I was an infant, and so did every other female in my family. I thought this was normal,lol. I think it is okay to get your infant’s ears pierced. It’s really not cruel or painful because it happens so fast. I think it is fine as long as they wear small studs/stones.

    But moving on…I think babies with pierced ears look more feminine. All of the girls in my family looked like girls, and we had lots of hair at birth. However, many babies aren’t so lucky. Some babies are bald for two years or so. I think it is especially important for bald baby girls to get their ears pierced bc that is the easiest way for people to tell what sex they are. One of my facebook friends recently had a baby girl like 7 months ago, and I just realized a few weeks ago that is a girl! It honestly looks like a boy. It is bald, and none of the features seem feminine at this point. It also has a unisex name. She finally posted a pic of the baby wearing a headband last month and I was like, ” Ohhhhh, it’s a girl!” If the baby would have been wearing earrings, I would have known immediately what sex it was.

    Having your dd’s ears pierced as an infant also helps prevent awkward moments out in public. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run into someone in the mall or wherever, and had to be careful no to offend the parent by calling their child the wrong sex. Some parents get really offended if you refer to their baby girl as a boy. Some are even more offended if you ask them flat out what sex their child is. It’s as if they just assume people should be able to tell by looking at the kid lol. If the baby’s outfit is covered with a blanket, and the baby is bald and not wearing headband…I will probably assume it is a boy. I sometimes try to get around the issue by giving general compliments, that way I don’t offend the parents. I will just say something like, “Oh, what a precious baby!”

    Bottom line: if you want to have your newborn, infant, toddler girl’s ears pierced, then do it. You’ll have plenty of moms who will say how pretty and cute it looks while “secretly wishing” they had pierced their daughter’s early. When asked, I reassure them their mommy intuition is
    right and offer my ped’s suggestions who encouraged me to do it early. If any moms are on the fence and would like our ped’s tips for “Moms having their daughter’s ears pierced,” drop me an e-mail.


I’m Jess! I’m a working mama of two sweet sisters living in the DC area. This is my space to share inspiration, real stories of working motherhood, recipes, style, and more! I can’t start my day without coffee and always try to show the real side of motherhood – the good and the challenging. I’m so glad you’re here – thanks for following along on my journey!

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