Getting your child’s ears pierced is an exciting rite of passage for many kids, especially young girls who are showing interest in jewelry or wanting to express themselves! But before you go, it’s vital to look at some of the risks and recommendations surrounding ear piercing so it’s done in the safest way possible.
Even though it’s an easier process for adults, there are a few more precautions you need to take for young ones getting new piercings.
Generally speaking, children should be at least six months old before allowing an ear piercing to prevent the risk of infection. Parents should ensure a professional performs the piercing at a clean, sterile location. After receiving the piercing, the piercing site should be cleaned regularly to avoid infection.
Of course, there is even more that goes into caring for your child’s piercing. However, as long as everything is done correctly and safely, and ear piercing can quickly become a regular part of everyday living. Below, I’ll provide all the information you need to know before and after getting your child’s ears pierced.
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Best Age to Get a Child’s Ears Pierced
The recommended age for children to get their ears pierced varies from doctor to doctor; there is no exact “rule” for when it’s appropriate. However, most doctors will recommend that your child is at least six months old before receiving a piercing. If they are any younger and get an infection from the piercing, they will most likely have to be hospitalized because their bodies aren’t strong enough to fight off the infection.
On the other hand, some sources will recommend the child be old enough to care for the piercing themselves. It all depends on if you, as the parent, will be willing to take care of the piercing for your child yourself.
Like many moms, I consider ear piercing to be a rite of passage for a little girl and I think it makes it more meaningful when they have to wait until a certain age to get them. It also ensures that they are mature and responsible enough to handle the hygiene and care involved with having ear piercings.
In our family, that age is nine! I remember being a young girl and wanting my ears pierced and, for whatever reason, nine was the age my parents chose for when I’d be allowed to have pierced ears.
I babysat for a little girl in college and her mom also chose age nine for that time she’d get to have newly pierced ears. It was a special day for me as well as the little girl wanted me there with her for that milestone.
When I came time to decide the age for my own daughters I did not want to jump on the baby ear-piercing bandwagon. I remembered the special feeling of being old enough to have my ears pierced. I remembered seeing that excitement on the little girl’s face. I wanted that same experience for my own little girls.
My daughter, Britt, had her ears pierced on her ninth birthday as part of a special surprise and I think it was a great choice! She did wonderful with the actual piercing experience and handled the ear piercing aftercare beautifully while giving it proper healing time and having patience until they were fully healed.
There is no right answer when it comes to young children and getting their ears pierced and this is a very personal decision. The appropriate age may vary depending on your family and your children, but in general, it’s important to make sure that they are READY for the responsibility and that they know what it entails!
Best Places to Get Ears Pierced for Children
There are a few possibilities for where your child can go to have a piercing done. There is no best place for ear piercing for kids and the decision on where to go when getting kids ears pierced is a very personal one.
The ideal option would be at a pediatrician’s office. They are doctors and, therefore, are very experienced in keeping materials sterile and appropriately handling children. Medical professionals are always the way to go with any major decision, right?
If you cannot find a pediatrician’s office that will perform the procedure, you can look for a piercing facility that engages in clean and sterile activities. Some may even find a local pharmacy! Feel free to make multiple calls to different locations to find an experienced technician, and ask questions to ensure that they properly clean equipment and have a sterile field.
In terms of piercing instrument, most facilities will use either a piercing gun or sterile needles to make the earring holes. There’s a valid argument among professional body piercers that says sterile needles are the safer way to get one’s ears pierced, and going to tattoo and piercing shops is actually becoming more common because of their superior sterilization processes. If that’s something you’re comfortable with (and your child isn’t afraid of needles) it’s an option in many states as long as there’s a legal guardian present to sign the paperwork!
We did not need a birth certificate when we had our daughter’s ears pierced but it would be a good idea to have one on hand, especially with small children or when getting a baby’s ears pierced at a tattoo parlor or other piercing location may require documentation before piercing kids’ ears.
Your last option would be a jewelry store. They commonly will give piercings, but they aren’t the calmest setting. Multiple customers are walking through the store, and your child may not have the fullest attention. If you decide to go with a jewelry store, ask the same questions about sterility and cleanliness. Share with them that you will appreciate it if they can give your child the appropriate attention.
When it came time to choose the best place to get my daughter’s ears pierced and choose her first earrings we actually did not visit a tattoo shop and instead went the piercing professional route at a mall. The staff had sterile equipment and performed the quick procedure on countless kids’ ears all day long.
We had the good fortune of a wonderful customer service experience and felt comfortable with our decision but it was also during the height of the pandemic so we had fewer options available to us which may have changed our decision as to where to get my children’s ears pierced. Thankfully it all went super smoothly and we have no regrets!
Safe Jewelry to Use When Getting a Child’s Ears Pierced
In addition to cleanliness, make sure that the facility you choose to go to has safe jewelry to use for your child. Unsafe jewelry made of cheaper materials may cause an allergic reaction or just a higher risk of infection. A nickel allergy is especially common in children. If the facility you choose doesn’t have safe earrings, you will want to purchase them yourself online or at a jewelry store.
These are all safe options to choose from for jewelry material:
- 14-karat white gold or yellow gold
- Sterling silver
- Surgical steel or stainless steel
When picking the jewelry style for your child, the pretty dangly flowers and hoops may stand out to you, but your best option is to go with a stud earring for the first time. Hoops and dangly earrings can get caught on clothing and blankets as a result of getting tugged on easily. That can lead to tearing.
Studs and post earrings are the best starter earrings and avoid tears and irritation from pulling, especially for younger children. As they get older, you can start introducing other types of earring styles.
How to Care for Your Child’s Piercing
After getting your child’s ears pierced, you can’t let the sanitary measures taken during the piercing procedure go to waste once you arrive at your home. Proper aftercare is extremely important even after the ear lobe piercing is completed and for the duration of the healing period, which may be anywhere from six to eight weeks. Be sure to follow the aftercare instructions provided by the piercing facility and if they provide or suggest any cleaning solution, use it!
Keeping it Clean
Don’t touch the piercing with dirty hands; you don’t want bacteria to come in contact with the open wound and create an infection. If you need to touch the piercing to clean it, wash your hands with antibacterial soap and water first.
To clean the actual piercing, use a saline solution. You can either buy one or make your own with a cup of warm water and a ¼ teaspoon of salt. Spray the solution on the lobe piercings twice a day to prevent bacteria build-up. You can also use a cotton swab to get in between the ear lobe and the earring post.
Don’t use hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol on the site; it can greatly irritate the skin around the piercing, especially if your child is still a baby. A baby’s skin tends to be more sensitive.
The rule of thumb I was always told is to leave earrings in for at least 8 weeks and to clean them daily and be sure to spin them around three times each time you clean as this helps the piercings heal but also helps make sure the holes do not close up.
To avoid infection, it is a priority to keep up with the cleaning schedule. If you notice that you or your child touched the piercing without washing your hands, make sure to clean it. Keep an eye out for any signs or symptoms of an infection.
Some signs of infection include:
- Pain or tenderness
What if the Ear Piercing Becomes Infected?
Don’t freak out or panic; the good news is there’s always a solution! If your child experiences any of the symptoms listed above, it could be an allergy, and the skin is reacting to the metal; it’s not always an infection.
If your child has any of the signs noted above, call their doctor, and see what they say. If they think the child needs medical attention, they will most likely will have you come in with your child to take a look at what’s going on. When it comes to health stuff it’s always best not to hesitate and when in doubt have a doctor check it out 🙂
If there’s an allergy to the metal used for the earring, you’ll have to change the earring for a different one. If there is an infection, the doctor will probably prescribe antibiotics or antibiotic ointment.
Teaching Your Child to Care for the Piercing
If your child is old enough, or around ten years of age when they get their piercing, talk to them about the importance of keeping it clean and not touching it with unwashed hands. This will help them understand the process of getting a piercing, and it will also help them learn responsibility.
Don’t leave everything up to your little one, but assist them or show them how to clean it, for example. They may need reminders throughout the day and may forget some details, but it’s important to be patient with them. They will appreciate your trust.
How Long After Ear Piercing Can My Child Change Earrings?
As a general rule, you are not supposed to remove or change the piercing earrings for at least 6-8 weeks after getting it done and if everything went according to plan. A piercing is an open wound, and just as a wound needs to heal, a piercing needs to heal as well.
If you remove or change the earring before the six weeks is up, you can risk infection and irritation. This can prolong the healing process, and your child’s holes can close up if you completely remove the earring. If you had a baby’s ears pierced, it might be difficult to put a new one in after six weeks, so it’s better to wait in certain situations like this.
In other cases, even after six weeks, the earring may not be ready to be changed. If there was ever an infection, it might be another six weeks until after the infection has healed. It varies and depends on your situation.
In short, it’s always better to wait! If you or your child are very eager to put in new earrings, you should call and ask your child’s doctor for their opinion.
What about cartilage piercings?
Earlobe piercings are extremely common, but as your child gets older, they might express interest in getting their ear cartilage pierced. Some parents are super cool with multiple piercings and others aren’t, but if it helps, the recommended age for other areas of the ear, such as cartilage and tragus piercings, is around 16 or 17. And even then, most places will still require a legal guardian to sign papers if they’re under 18, so you (and they) might be better off waiting until they’re legal adults. 😉
I’ve heard countless stories over the years of friends who didn’t wait long enough before changing out their earrings and their holes closed up so when it came to my daughter and her post-piercing care we left her piercing earrings in for 3 months (12 weeks) before swapping them out and I didn’t have her wear any dangly earrings or “cheap earrings” until an entire year had gone by from her original piercing.
It worked out great because it was another fun milestone for her. Ears pierced on her ninth birthday, dangle earrings on her 10th 🙂
When we made the switch from her original earrings we stuck with hypoallergenic studs with a screw back. These helped ensure her earrings wouldn’t fall out! The best tip when putting on a screw back earring? Wear gloves! It helps to grip the earring back to make sure it’s tightly secured.
Our Personal Piercing Experience
As soon as our oldest daughter, Britt, started asking about wanting to get her ears pierced we explained that she’d need to wait until she turned nine. She had so much excitement and anticipation leading up to her birthday that year!
We surprised her while on her birthday celebration trip to Disney World with a girl’s day to the Orlando Mall where we’d get her ears pierced followed by a visit to The American Girl Store where her doll would also get her ears pierced and we’d have a special birthday celebration lunch together at the store!
I intentionally surprised her with the ear-piercing so she wouldn’t have a ton of time to be overthinking, over worrying, and making it more dramatic than necessary 😉
She felt very special and very grown-up. She was SO excited until we got there and then she got super nervous. The online opening times weren’t accurate so we were actually there a good thirty minutes before they would pierce her ears which I think only added to the anxiety of the moment.
As it got closer to time she got more and more nervous and I told her it was NO PRESSURE. She did not HAVE to do it. But that I also wasn’t going to be coming back. She could do it NOW or she could wait but I didn’t know when she’d get to do it again. It was truly up to her!
The professional piercers helped her feel comfortable and showed her the piercing guns they had at the piercing parlor. We discussed any special needs she may have or things she may be concerned about.
So she decided she for SURE wanted to do it! She said she wanted to pray and then said “God is with me – I am READY.”
They did pierce one ear at a time which surprised me but they explained it was to make sure they had them even which I appreciated!
Such a big family life moment and she immediately looked SO grown! She was SO glad she did it and she did an INCREDIBLE job taking care of them as well. We didn’t have any issues what-so-ever and I was so thankful we waited until she was old enough to appreciate the experience and handle the care required!
As we discussed above, the process of having your child’s ears pierced isn’t difficult; you just need to take the necessary safety precautions. Ear piercing for kids doesn’t have to be stressful or overwhelming:
- Your child should be at least six months old; the older, the better since they can learn to take care of the piercing themselves.
- Ensure that the facility you choose to pierce your child’s ears takes account of all needed sterile measures.
In addition, bear in mind that you have to follow the same safety precautions. Wash your hands before you touch the piercing to clean it, and if your child is old enough, have them observe you so they can learn for themselves.