Piercing Babies’ Ears: Just say no!

We all love our children, right? That’s a given. Goes without saying. Seeing your child in pain is the worst feeling in the world. They are so small and vulnerable. We’d do anything to protect them and keep them from harm. Wouldn’t we?

So how many of you have had your child’s ears pierced?

Cute-Silver-Diamond-Baby-Earrings

I don’t like it. I don’t get it. I don’t understand why a loving parent would do it to their child.

And before anybody says it, it is not the same as having immunisation injections. Nowhere close. Without wanting to go off-topic and start a discussion about immunisation, for the majority of parents, routine jabs are just one of those things we don’t like but need to do. Both of my babies had their full set of jabs. It’s not pleasant. It hurts them. They cry. Screaming outrage and confusion at their first experience of physical pain. As parents, we grit our teeth and soothe them. Because the pain serves a purpose. It’s for the greater, long term good. This short pain will keep them safe from worse suffering.

But what purpose is served by stabbing holes into the perfectly soft, unblemished skin of a baby? When our babies are born, we spend those first few hours and days staring at our beautiful, perfect bundles. We count their fingers and toes and gaze at the wonder of how we could make something so pure. So WHY would any parent think to themselves, “my baby isn’t perfect just as they are. They need improvement. If I have these shiny baubles shot through their ear lobes with a metal gun, they’ll look so much better!”?

I will admit there is a small snobbish, part of me that thinks it’s just plain tacky. This is purely personal preference; I think there’s something a bit common about blinging up your baby, just like having Swarovski crystals stuck all over your iPhone. A baby is not an accessory. And hoops! I see this frequently in my area. Hoop earrings on a baby at an age when they will pull and tug at any shiny, dangly object within arm’s reach. How dangerous is that?!

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Claire’s Accessories imposes a minimum age limit on their ear piercing service in the UK. The manager of my local store told me they regularly have pregnant women coming in to ask how soon after birth they can have their babies’ ears pierced. They subsequently have a policy that babies need to be at least four months old and have had a full course of immunisations before they will carry out the procedure.

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Four months old. Before a baby can even tolerate solid food in their delicate under-developed stomachs, you can sign a disclaimer and allow a foreign object to be torn through their flesh for no reason other than aesthetics. Grotesque.

It’s primarily girls who have their ears pierced at such a young age, isn’t it? Perhaps they don’t have much hair and you want to stamp “FEMALE” across their forehead with a red-hot branding iron just so the rest of the world is clear on your newborn’s gender. To my mind, this sits firmly in the same camp as those who think every little girl should be adorned in lurid princess pink from head to toe, lest she be considered less feminine than the girl who likes wearing green and playing with dinosaurs. Utter nonsense.

Let’s be clear. I am not against piercing or body adornment in general. Sometimes tattoos and piercings can look beautiful. It’s entirely personal preference. I just think a person should be of an age when they understand what is happening, why it is happening and any potential consequences of their decision to have it done. THEIR DECISION.

When my eldest daughter was five years old, she started asking me if she could have her ears pierced. My immediate knee-jerk reaction was “no”. Absolutely not. No way. Too young. Far too young. Lots of her friends already had theirs done and she was clearly feeling peer pressure to fit in. (In fact, some of them were already wearing little cropped bra-type vests but that’s a whole other blog post right there!) I explained to her in graphic terms exactly how ear piercing is carried out and how long it would take to heal before she could wear the Hello Kitty character earrings she was drawn to. I wanted to scare her out of having it done. It worked. Her face dropped, she rapidly changed her mind and nothing more was said on the matter. Until a few months later when it all started again. I fobbed her off for weeks. Finally, I said that she needed to think very carefully about it and if she still wanted them done it would be as a present for her sixth birthday. This was still months away and I thought she’d forget all about it. She didn’t. I’d had mine pierced at about five or six years old and I’d run out of excuses. She was old enough to know her own mind, wasn’t she? So off we went to our local high street ear piercing place.

Now to be fair, the lady there was pretty good. She explained it all in detail, showed us all the equipment and how it worked and said that if my daughter changed her mind at any point, she would stop. Except that if she’d already opened the sterile packaging of the earrings themselves, I would still have to pay regardless of whether or not the piercing actually took place. It was bloody expensive but it was her birthday present so fair enough. Daughter was still adamant so we carried on.

It was horrendous. There wasn’t a second assistant available to pierce both ears at the same time. The first ear was pierced. My six year old child screamed and cried and howled. She was inconsolable. And she didn’t want the other ear done. She was terrified. It took half an hour to talk her into doing it. Despite all the explanations, she had not truly understood the consequences. Because she was six. It’s obvious to me now. And oh, the guilt!

But we took all the instructions and aftercare products home. We dutifully cleaned her ears morning and night and did everything we were meant to do. But they never healed. Six months later they were still raw. She couldn’t change her earrings. She had to put masking tape over them for PE every week, which got stuck to her hair and tugged on her sensitive ears every time we pulled it off. They just never healed. And eventually one of her lobes got infected. It was swollen up all around the earring. Hot and red and sore. That was it. Enough. She’d had enough of it all and so had I. I took the earring out. She screamed. Pus oozed out. It stank. It was gross. Once I’d taken out the earrings, I binned the shop’s own brand of cleaning solution and cleaned her ears with TCP every day for a week and they healed perfectly. Thankfully there is no lumpy tissue or scarring. I thought six years old was mature enough to make that decision. I was wrong. I’d allowed it. It was my responsibility. Not hers.

Now imagine inflicting all that trauma and pain on a much younger baby who cannot properly articulate how they feel about it all. Imagine their immune systems, fragile and undeveloped, trying to fight the infection that had set in. Why would anyone put their child through all that for no real reason? Would you take your baby to a tattoo parlour? Would you stick them on a sunbed? Bleach their hair? Give them Botox? No. Because these are unnecessary, cosmetic procedures that carry a certain amount of risk and shouldn’t be carried out on anyone too young to make an informed decision to have it done.

I was going to insert a photo here of an infected ear piercing just to break up this long, wordy blog post. But frankly the images that popped up on Google were so stomach-churning, it’s just not worth it. If you want shock value, Google it yourself. Maybe not while you’re eating though.

(L)

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19 thoughts on “Piercing Babies’ Ears: Just say no!

  1. tiasmum12 October 17, 2013 at 09:29 Reply

    I can’t say much, as Tia’s ears were pierced at five months. However one of the main reasons for this was because as babies they heal fantastically with no complications. Her ears never even got red, she will never have to tape them when older as she can just take them out. I think they look lovely, I don’t expect everyone to agree, however I don’t like being made to feel like a bad parent for doing it either.

  2. The Pie Patch October 17, 2013 at 09:42 Reply

    I think it’s the issue of causing unnecessary pain for an unnecessary reasons. Who’s benefit is it for? People can do as they like with their children, is it a choice I’d make if I had a girl? No. I wouldn’t.

    • tiasmum12 October 17, 2013 at 10:04 Reply

      I never felt bad about having Tia’s ears pierced, the person who did it was lovely and she never even cried. They have healed perfectly, much better then they would if she was much older. And if she dosent like them when she’s older, she can just remove them. But now I am constantly made to feel bad for our choices. It’s very pitchforty! I teared up the other night after said discussion on twitter, if you don’t like it then don’t look. My daughters ears have nothing to do with you anyway.

      • Sierra February 27, 2016 at 05:29

        My ears were pierced when I was two. Twice. I don’t remember getting it done or anything. But now that I am 18, I sometimes regret having the two holes in each ear that melted into one big hole in each ear. The part in the front of my ear doesn’t even line up with the backhole, so any earings won’t actually go in. They never closed even though I never wore earings. In fact, I have to squeeze pus out of them sometimes because they never closed up!

        Tell me now, that this was a decision that my mother was allowed to make for me.

  3. L (@Marilynn1982) October 17, 2013 at 09:54 Reply

    I don’t agree with the piercing of babies ears or even young children. It’s a very interesting point that you mention immunisations. I dare say like every parent, the parents children with pierced ears must get upset when their children have their injections too? But why then would they ever think that having someone pierce their child’s skin for a permanent cosmetic procedure wasnt as bad as something which would potentially benefit their child’s health? It just shows how normalised many people’s attitudes are to cosmetic products and procedures. I find that very worrying indeed. I say piercing a should be for adults only. Some may argue that once a child is old enough to decide that ear piercing should be allowed. I don’t think so. Lets face it, most children given the option would have chocolate for breakfast or wear their shoes to bed. Does that sound like someone who is capable of making such a decision? Surely not?

    Ultimately, if anyone wants to pierce their child’s ears, I’m not going to go after them with a pitchfork. I’ll just have to agree to disagree. I just think they should have a better justification than “it looks pretty”.

  4. Bellabong October 17, 2013 at 10:11 Reply

    Totally agree with this.i had my ears pierced for my 13th birthday.i had decided I wanted it done and I was at an age where I could make an informed decision about it.I believe it should be done only when the child is old enough and mature enough to understand the whole process.xx

  5. The Pie Patch October 17, 2013 at 10:17 Reply

    Yes I agree Marilynn, to get it done because YOU like the way it looks and it benefits the child in no other way is what I feel a poor justification. However, people do what they think is best for their children I suppose!

  6. victoria October 17, 2013 at 10:21 Reply

    I personally wouldn’t do it, I can remember how it felt and can’t imagine putting my LO through that until they are old enough to understand. Babies are babies, not fashion accesories!! I do however get the better healing side of it, but its personal taste. Each to their own.

  7. Lucy October 17, 2013 at 13:10 Reply

    I completely agree, I am very much into my tattoos and piercings, however I can’t stand seeing my little girl in pain so why would I do that to her just to make her look sparkly (I would say nice but I don’t like the look of them on children) Little miss can have hers done when she’s old enough to ask and responsible enough to look after them herself. Until then I shall enjoy her unspoiled natural beauty that every child has.

  8. Michelle S October 17, 2013 at 15:19 Reply

    I do think it’s the parents’ choice as whether to pierce or not to pierce. I get that the pain is negligible at a younger age. However, it is controversial and there will be those that don’t agree. It doesn’t make anyone right or wrong.

    Personally, I will be delaying it as long as possible. As well as it being a complete faff, I like how my little girl looks without earrings. She looks like a little girl. She is a little girl. I don’t feel a need for her to get them pierced for a looong while and certainly only when she asks. There are girls at school with their ears pierced and that’s fine. It’s just not for me.

  9. mandy October 17, 2013 at 23:13 Reply

    I work in a school that has just instructed all parents that earrings are not to be worn at school at any time – not studs nor sleepers and not taped during PE – not at all – good on the head teacher i say – (concessions ARE being made for those children who had them pierced very recently) but i am absolutely sure that it wont be tolerated in the following school year xx

  10. christy golding September 8, 2014 at 20:33 Reply

    Totally agree with you lucy…i just don’t understand why you’d inflict pain on a tiny helpless baby. and the whole ” they heal better” is a load of bull. sorry.
    i had mine pierced at 6-7yrs and got terribly infected…. weeping, scabby mess. it never occurred to anyone that because i was allergic to nickel that earrings would contain nickel and cause this reaction. At least i was 6 and knew why my ears hurt….and not a tiny baby with infected ears my mum made me have.

  11. Aia May 6, 2015 at 04:27 Reply

    I have my 6 month old daughter’s ears pierced. She didn’t even cry and it healed with no dramas. As long as you take good care of it during the healing stage and clean them regularly once healed, it will keep infections at bay. Most of the horror stories about ear piercing are with people who had it done at a later stage. Go figure.

    • The Pie Patch May 6, 2015 at 06:11 Reply

      There is still a risk of infection, even if you do follow good hygiene. Babies do not have a fully developed immune system. I just don’t understand why anyone would want to inflict it on a baby at all. It’s a baby, not an accessory. Why not let them make their own choice when they’re old enough to choose? Would you take her for a tattoo at 6 months old? Or a spray tan? I’m afraid we will never agree on this. But thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

  12. erinbaer June 11, 2015 at 21:00 Reply

    I hate reading this woman on woman hate crime… No matter when you decide to pierce your child’s ears aren’t you still being a hypocrite when you say “what purpose is served by stabbing holes into the perfectly soft, unblemished skin of a baby”. Your “baby was only six.

    Its just shameful to see so much judgement. Good for you. Not for me. Is the only thing you need to say.

    • The Pie Patch June 11, 2015 at 21:09 Reply

      Woman on woman? Absolutely not. I disagree with fathers piercing their babies’ ears too. And I believe I make it perfectly clear in my writing that I made a horrible mistake allowing my six year-old to have her ears pierced. I thought she was old enough to understand the process & consequences. I was wrong & it caused her a lot of distress. So, yes. I stand by my judgement. Causing a baby physical harm for the sake of aesthetics is wrong. But thanks for taking the time to comment.

  13. Bria Nicole August 25, 2015 at 05:02 Reply

    This entire post is pure judgmental ignorance. Just because you type it doesn’t make it so. You chose to wait to pierce your daughter’s ears, some chose to pierce their daughter’s ears as an infant. It’s a personal choice. Just because you waited until your child was six, you still took her to have her ears pierced. Whether you regret it now or not is irrelevant. You’re no better than anyone else. And, for the record, I’m sure that us mothers who chose to pierce our daughters’ ears never thought of our babies as “accessories.” We love our kids just like you love yours. And you should be ashamed of yourself for perpetuating such nonsense. Self righteous idiot.

    • The Pie Patch August 25, 2015 at 07:38 Reply

      As I have said, I now realise that 6 was far too young. I made a huge mistake & I do regret it massively because of the pain & distress it caused my child. You speak about choice. What choice does a baby have?

      I don’t claim to be better than anyone else. I just ask people to listen to my own experience. To stop & think before carrying out this intrusive procedure on their children for no reason other than aesthetics. Do you think it’s ok to tattoo a baby? To put them on a tanning bed? How about footbinding? Or FGM? Is that ok too?

      I fear we will not agree on this. But thank you for your input.

    • Sierra February 27, 2016 at 05:38 Reply

      The difference between a six month’s old baby getting her ears pierced and a six years old “baby” is that the six year old asked for it. There it is- the parent makes a decision for the baby and the baby – who will grow up into a PERSON- is going to live with the consequences of the parents’ decision.

      It’s NOT a personal choice to change something on the child that the child might not want later on!

      My ears were pierced when I was two. Twice. I never chose to wear earrings once I was old enough to make any decisions myself, and yet, 16 years later, my ears are *mangled and I have to deal with this. Not my mother, or anyone who made the choice.

      *I’m sure my ears healed fine when I was little, but my body grew and the holes shifted. They no longer line up and I couldn’t wear earrings if I wanted to. They never closed up, I still have to squeeze pus out.

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