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Did you pierce? When?

Amy emailed a question recently that we, ourselves, have been thinking of lately:

I'd to take the uMama temperature on the subject of ear piercing. I had my ears pierced at age three, after showing a consistent, swooning desire to have sparkly ears. (I actually remember the occasion, sitting on the Sears jewelry counter - I loved wearing my earrings from that first moment, and I still have some of the cute posts I collected from the Avon catalogue throughout elementary school!)

Which brings me to today. My daughter is almost two, and loves, loves, loves my earrings. This morning, she pulled on her own ears and asked for "'rings?" It suddenly struck me that the ear piercing question might come sooner rather than later - and I don't see many young girls with pierced ears around here!

So, what's the community perspective on pierced ears on young children? Do your daughters have pierced ears, and when did they get them? What would you think if you saw a three-, four-, or five-year-old with pierced ears? (If it makes a difference - I realize that pierced ears on babies is common in some cultures, but my family's ethnicity is caucasian.)


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my mom had mine pierced when i was 2-3. i asked for them, too. the piercers showed me what they were going to do on a little stuffed bunny, and then they did both ears at the same time so i didn't change my mind after one!

My daughter started asking for pierced when she was just shy of 3. I let her know that the actual piercing hurt, but it would stop hurting not long after. Everytime she brought it up, I would remind her of that, and she kept saying "okay, I'll wait".

Right at her 4th birthday, she decided the desire for earrings outweighed her fears of the pain, and we did the piercing.

I've had her take part in caring for the piercings since day one--using the cleaner, etc., and almost seven years later, no problems at all.

I, personally, think that toddlers are quite a bit young to have ears pierced. I have a 3 year old girl at the moment and I would not let her have it done if she asked. She is happy just to have some basic bracelets and a play necklace every now and then....

I just don't think that children at that age are competent decision makers. They have no idea of the risks involved (albeit slim), such as bleeding, infection (there was a horrible outbreak of severe bacterial infections associated with ear piercing in Oregon about 5-7 years back).

All that being said, I was given the opportunity to have mine pierced at age 12. I did it at that time and have had no regrets. It was fun at that age, as I was busy going to "malls" on the weekends...and earrings were the kind of thing that I had enough money for at that time!

I can not speak for those ethnicities that have piercing performed at a younger age.

My dd is 14 with unpierced ears. She could have had my permission a couple of years ago. I do think the child should be old enough to do the cleaning and turning of the earrings themselves. The idea of stinging alcohol applied to a toddlers' ears makes me squirm just considering it.

I got my ears pierced when I was eight. My sister was two years older and getting hers done. I ended up being allergic to gold and my ears got super infected. I remember the pierced site was so crusted over, I couldn't remove the posts and my neighbor had to use her husbands pliers to get them out. Yuck! I got them pierced again when I was 12 with stainless steel. My mom made a big deal out of it that time. Like it was a ritual into womanhood. I know being older, I was definitely more responsible about taking care of them and having that ritual aspect to it meant a lot.

I don't personally wear earrings that much now that I'm an adult. And my two year old daughter hasn't brought it up. But my two cents would be to wait. How long would you make her wait to get some other part of her anatomy pierced?

I remember that all of my friends got their ears pierced when I was about 10. I desperately wanted to get mine pierced as well, but my mom wouldn't let me until I was 15. 15 came and went and, I suppose as an act of rebellion, stubbornness, whatever you want to call it, I refused to get my ears pierced. My sister got married when I was about 20 and my mom "made me" get my ears pierced at that time because I "had to wear earrings to the wedding." (give me a break!)

Anyway, I think that toddlers are too young to understand the decision and take care of piercings themselves, but I think that clip ons and other jewelry could be fun for dress-up play. I do think that 10 is plenty old enough, though!

Ten was the age when I was growing up. That still seems like a good time to me.

I fall into the camp that doesn't think it's appropriate to pierce a toddler's ears. I don't think a child of that age is old enough to make a real decision about altering her body, or to be responsible for cleaning and care. I would not allow it for my 2yo, no matter how much she wanted it.

That said, this isn't something I get terribly worked up about. If it's worked out for some toddlers, well, each to parent to her own.

My husband and I got our daughters ears pierced when she was six months old and my cousin had her daughters ears pierced when she was only three months. I actually liked it because she was young enough that she never pulled on them. She is three and a half now and LOVES them, we usually keep the same pair in and clean them when she is in the bath. My family is also caucasian but it is definitely a personal choice on when to get or allow your child to get their ears pierced.

I'm just curious to know how many people here who think it's not ok to pierce a toddler's ears think it's ok to circumcise a little boy.

I hardly wear earrings myself these days -- they're too grabbable. It's interesting to hear about younger children w/ pierced ears because to me it just seems like more maintenance, at a time when I can barely persuade my 2.5 yo girl most days to sit still long enough for a simple hair brushing.

My mom had my ears pierced when I was 8, even though (different from some of the people posting above) I DID NOT WANT PIERCED EARS. It's possible that that experience colors my attitude towards the question as well.

Speaking of boys....what about boys and piercing? I am done with the babies and will never be a boy mom, but I'd like to think I'd apply the same standard to piercing a boy's ear as I did with my daughter.

I am in my mid-40's; I have a male friend that is around my age that had a single pierced ear during grade school (just like his dad). He remembers that "no earrings" was the rule for both boys and girls during little league games and practices, and that his ears closed up during baseball season. By the time the season was over, he wasn't interested enough to get repierced.

I don't recall ever having seen a little boy with an ear piercing. Is this due to lack of interest or to it still being a taboo for parents?

Emily asks how long to make our kids wait to pierce other parts of the anatomy? My kid was sticking stuff (Cheerios, etc.) to her face years ago, saying "look at my pierced nose, look at my pierced eyebrow". Then she was with me when I got my nose pierced a few years ago, saw the blood, saw how it made me cry (it HURT a lot more than ears), and she's over the facial piercings now, so it's a moot point.

Although she does express regret occasionally over her "outie" belly button, since she is under the impression that one cannot have an outie pierced. She is hoping that, by the time she is old enough (not sure what age she thinks that is), her navel will be an "innie".

Curious, to answer your question, I think any cosmetic alteration of the body should be the decision of the person whose body it is, when he or she is old enough to make an informed decision about it. That goes for both ear piercing and circumcision.

That said, I think the ramifications of ear piercing and circumcision are on radically different planes (with circumcision being by far the more serious body modification)

Funny, my daughter (3 and a half) asked about it this morning! She's used to me telling her that lots of things are for "older kids" (gum, for example, and driving), though I usually mention a specific age (six for gum, sixteen for driving), so I quickly tried to do the math -- when did I get my ears pierced the first time? I was in fourth grade, and most of my classmates had already done it, so I said when she was seven or eight we could get her ears pierced. She was fine with it, although I know we'll have the conversation again (several times) soon, we always do!

I remember getting pierced earrings for Chanukah when I was just over 8 years old...I had peeked at my gift prior to that evening and was so confused since I didn't have pierced ears...but for some reason, 8 seems like a good age to me since I feel 3rd grade is a real socially relevant time for kids. If my daughter (now almost 3) wants to get her ears pierced at 8, I will let her. 8 is also the age I have decided that if she wants to eat meat, she can do so out of the house (such as if she went to McDonalds with friends and wanted to get a burger) but we will have no meat at home. 8 years old seems like an important age to me. I think it all comes from our own experiences.

I remember having to be 12 or 13 before I was allowed to do it. But I really like what someone has already said about a ritual of passage as you get older. What about piercing when she gets her first period?

My daughter had her ears pierced right before Christmas, she was a few months shy of 7. We had talked about it a couple years before and I explained to her what happened when they did the piercing and that it was permanent and that when she decided she was ready we'd do it.

I don't think there is a magic age, but I tend to lean towards waiting until the child can have a say/desire in wanting it done.

I am amused at all the 2, 3, and 4 year olds mentioned here who want to get their ears pierced. My 4 year old daughter is as into sparkly stuff as the next girlie girl, but she is SO afraid of pain that I doubt she'll be asking to get her ears pierced for a long, long time!

I wear long dangly earrings a lot...it's basically my one super girly accessory in lieu of make-up, dresses, heals (most of the time, I don't even bother to shave my legs...) So, I was not at all surprised when my daughter started asking to have earrings when she was two. I told her it hurt to get it done, which was sufficiently scary for the moment. As she got a bit older, we decided that having her ears pierced was a very big girl thing, so when she was no longer wearing diapers at all, day or night, she would be big enough to decide if she was ready. We talked a lot about how it would feel and what we would have to do to take care of them. I explained to her that they could become infected if they were not cared for, and that if that happened, the earrings would have to come out until she was older. The day came and went that she was able to make her own choice about it, and for a long time, she decided she was not ready. Then one day, walking through the mall, she decided it was the day. She had just turned four (the same age as I was when I had my first pair), and we went into to the piercing shop. We talked again about how she would have to wash them every day for two months before she could change her earrings, about how it would hurt a little at first and we watched while a ten year old girl got hers done for the first time. Afterwards, I asked her, "What do you think? Do you still want to do this?" and she looked at me thoughtfully and answered, "I'm still scared, but I want to do it anyway". Well, I have to say, I've never been prouder of her. She sat very still and held my hand while the two piercers got both ears at the same time. She cried afterwards, but more from the build up of the fear than from the pain. We diligently washed them every night before bed for two months and now she is enormously proud of her earrings, less because they are pretty and sparkly, and more because they came to be a symbol of a very proud moment of facing her fears and embracing her big-girl-ness. It was absolutely her choice, one of her first really big ones, and she handled it with a maturity and thoughtfulness that, frankly, shocked me. Ear piercing is definitely a very individual choice that has to be made with ones own family (something I found myself explaining to a lot of my daughter's friends in the weeks that followed), but I am glad we let her have the power to make her own decision on this one.

Oh, and on the issue of boys, well my husband had both of his ears pierced too, got them in middle school and while most of the four year-old boys I know are not so interested in adorning themselves, if we had a son, we would have handled it the exact same way.


I am strongly against piercing infant ears and I have an intact son. Each person deserves the right to a whole body!

My children may modify their bodies as they see fit after they leave home and live their own life.

OK, I'll bite. I pierced my daughter's ears when she was 3 months old. I got my own done when I was just days old. It's somewhat cultural, but I like it, too. If she doesn't want them when she gets older (not very likely, if you know her personality) she can let them close.

Ok, commence bashing...I'm sure it's coming.

My ears were pierced as a toddler at home. I think toothpicks were involved at some point. Cultural deal. 2nd pair of hole at 7 years old. It wasn't ever an "option". I wear earring even though I'm allergic and get scars and everything.

My daughter's culture on both sides believes in piercing girls in infancy. I refused. People would send earrings as gifts whith cards demanding a piercing.

When she was 16 months she was visiting her dad and his family. His mother PIERCED her ears. They also gave her ice cream and cow's milk. When I went pick her up, I was livid. SO I let the holes close.

When she was 4 or 5, she wanted them pierced. . . so I let her.

My ears were pierced at 2 months and I had my daughter's pierced at 3 months. I mostly did it because, when I got older and wanted I was deathly afraid of the pain and watched my schoolmates dread it but want them.So I was grateful that I had mine pierced so young and didn't remember, even though in reality the it only stings for a little while.
My daughter was in her sling and nursed through the whole thing, so I was grateful for that as well. Now, my 2 year old daughter looks up at me and asks, "when I get older, can I have a nose ring like mommy?" Yikes, I tell her, yes she can when she's older, but what's older?

I have always wondered about piercings from an accupuncturist's point of view. Any out there?

I got ears pierced at 12 a second in one ear at 20 with a great friend- now defunct (not the friend)-and my nose at 40 with two friends. Our sweet 12 year old neighbor- loves to get her ears pierced, but isn't great with the maintenance so she's had it done three times. My 21 month old son loves my piercings too, but only for the shiny quality. He isn't asking for 'rings' or nail polish yet.

Setting aside the cultural piece, because I think that's a whole seperate issue, I guess I wonder why the rush. At 2 and 3, even older I guess, why is it even on the table just because the child wants it? I don't intend to be disrespectful, so I hope this doesn't sound this way, but it seems like there's a reluctance to say no to things that may just not be age appropriate. (Not necessarily in the original question, but just sort of in general.) Or maybe that's the essence of the question, the age appropriate piece or not. I don't know about this comparison, but I've often thought about a library card for my child since we go so frequently. My boy (3) would love to have his own card. But wouldn't he appreciate it so much more when he can actually grasp what an honor it is to have one? I guess on this issue it depends on whether or not you see ear piercing as just a piece of jewelry or if you ascribe some sort of meaning to it. But if it's just that you don't want to say "no" or listen to your child having a fit about it, I would rethink what's really going on.

I have 3 piercings in each ear, first at 10, part of my big birthday, the second at 18 when I could sign for myself and the third at 21, because I was too chicken to get a tattoo.

I will pay for one set of holes in my girls ears maybe at the age of 8 (that is when I REALLY wanted to get mine done)and any further body modification is up to them when they can pay and sign for themselves.

Cultural practices aside, I don't know anyone who has pierced their daughters ears. I guess I just didn't think it was "in" anymore.

But I don't have daughters so what do i know!

I got my ears pierced when I was 6 years old and learned to ride my bike without training wheels. Riding the bike was a surprise for my father on his return from a business trip to Europe. The piercing was the bribe from my mom. I recall it hurt very badly, and we had Orange Julius drinks afterwards. I had lots of infections from junky earings when I was young, and now just prefer gold or precious stones that I have inherited.
On the Ethinc/Culture note- my husband is from Guadalajara, Jalisco Mexico. We have a a 1 year old son. We did NOT circumsize our son. If we have a girl, she will have her ears pierced as an infant.

My feeling is that caring for pierced ears is a hygiene issue. My 9 and 11 year-old girls would love pierced ears. When they are ready to properly care for them I'm all for it. As it is though, I still have to bug them to brush and floss twice a day, so I don't think they are ready yet.

I was 13 when my ears were pierced. I think that might be a good age. By then, I was so into appearance and such that I was good about cleaning and changing my earrings.

My uncle (!) pierced my ears when I was a baby, not sure exactly how old, I think I recall my mom saying I was a year or so. There was a potato, rubbing alcohol, a hat-pin and ice involved... He did my sister's too. I wonder what my mom was thinking?! I definitely would not be letting one of my brothers near my kids to pierce their ears! But I guess I'm glad it was done when I was a baby--I certainly dont remember any pain and when all of my friends were begging their moms to get their ears pierced I was in the "been there, done that" camp. A few times growing up I remember getting infections from wearing cheap earrings, but I had one or two good pairs that were gold or silver and I go back to those and be fine again soon enough.

We lived in Arizona, where lots of the Hispanic babies have their ears pierced early. I'm not sure if this is what convinced my mom to do ours as babies or not...I think I'm more concerned about her choice in piercer, than her choice in timing! And where was my dad when all of this went down? :)

I got my ears pierced before I even left the hospital maybe 2-3 days old. I wore a beautiful set of gold earing that were specially made for me all my childhood...I never really understood why some girls in my class didn;t have their ears pierced. That said, I am from south america, and there you just wear earings, point. Yes, some people choose not to but the general rule is that you do. The big deal in my family came when I decided to let go of those golden earings and tried something else. I beleive my mother had her ears piierced when she was a baby too...and so did my grandma, who latter decided not to wear earings ever again. I may not shave my legs, wear fancy clthes or shoes but you will never see my without earings, sleeping -yep I wear earing while I sleep, I shower whith my earings, I even remember picking THE pair of earings I was going to wear during the birth of my son, I wore them the whole time during labor....earings are part of my body...I change earings every day according to how I feel, I buy earings to celebrate big events in my life. And no, I do not wear earings with cats or flags ( you know what I am saying)...I have a baby boy and he is complete, I will have to think twice now what to do if I have a girl ...

I'm not an acupuncturist, but when I started seeing one almost 20 years ago for severe low back pain I had piercings up both ears and he advised to let as many as I could grow over because they interfered with treatment. I was about ready to be done with that much hardware to manage every day anyway, so I kept just two holes in each ear. Now my daughter (almost 8) is asking for pierced ears and I keep telling her 13, which is what my Mom insisted on and I DESPISED her for it, so maybe I'll change my tune. But it's like the turtle she says she wants--I don't want to be the one responsible for the care and cleaning and feeding of piercings and finding of lost earrings. The dog would die if we really counted on her to feed him, and her participating in his care was one of the conditions of getting him. I'm not sure she's ready to consistently care for her ears, either.

Children do not need embelishment to be beautiful. Piercing young ears is a reflection of parent's own vanity. The responsibility of earrings should happen when they are capable of making decisions about taking good care of their own bodies.

I bought my 2 year old clip ons. They are tight so she doesn't loose them. They sell hoops at Claire's that sort of pinch the ear. They are about 6$. They are a good practice. She likes to wear them to parties.

How about piercing sons young ears?

I was in second grade and old enough to completely care for my ears. I remember it being a pleasant surprise but not something that I REALLY wanted. I would let my daughters choose pierced ears starting at that age ONLY if they can do it all alone. I refuse to add one more thing to the list of things that we have to do and that I have to remind them of. If at 7 or 8 years old we are arguing over hairbrushing or teethbrushing, earrings won't be an option. If at that age my girls are independently doing self-care and grooming, I think I'll be fine with it. I won't encourage it but think it's fine. I'm always surprised at how many people pierce younger kids - I've seen way too many permananently damaged earlobes (I know at least 3 people with little triangular cutouts where earrings used to be). I can't imagine sending them to daycare/preschool knowing that the earrings could be tugged on in a physical altercation.

"Children do not need embellishment to be beautiful. Piercing young ears is a reflection of parent's own vanity."

While I agree children don't NEED embellishment, I disagree that it's a parent's vanity. Can't a parent have another reason? Cultural reasons? Also, if that is your stance, do you put your child in a cotton sack? Cause if you buy cute clothes for your child, you may be in danger of "embellishing" for your own vanity's sake too. Let's not throw stones.

Yesterday I saw an 8 year old boy with two pierced ears. I would feel the same with boys as I do with girls - when they are old enough that it's not something we have to struggle over.

Assuming that the beauty of a child could be tempered or damaged by earrings IS vanity. My daughter is perfectly imperfect. She was before her ears were pierced and she is still. What makes my daughter beautiful has nothing to do with what she wears on her body, or how she chooses to adorn her little self. Any adult who chooses to judge her or her parentage based on something so superficial and individual as having pierced ears, should take a long hard look in the mirror.

Some people want to, some people don't. I wish I never had. Done.

I don't know when I started begging to have my ears pierced but I'm guessing it was in kindergarten; I had a classmate who had hers pierced at birth and I was infatuated. Oh how I wanted my ears pierced despite being terrified of the pain.

My mother told me 10 was the magic age and if I still wanted them, I could have them then.

I remember the mall. I remember how I had a girl on each side of me ready to pierce at the same time because I was so afraid. I remember starting to cry because it hurt and the anticipation had been so great. And I remember how absolutely thrilled I was to finally have my ears pierced.

I had some problems. It turns out the studs were so difficult to remove that I was hurting myself each time I took them out. And I needed gold. My mom bought me a pair of small, continuous wire hoop earrings and I wore those until we were sure my lobes were healed and ready for other options.

I think I still have every single pair of earrings I ever had, right down to the cheap pair of ladybug earrings I bought before my ears were pierced and the heinous and giant flourescent pink squares I wore in the 80s.

I love this topic - it manages to be kind of inconsequential and very interesting at the same time. I couldn't have cared less before this discussion got started. Now I'm kind of torn. I love little babies with pierced ears. It's like some sort of dress up pretending-to-be-an-adult joke, like the pockets on baby overalls - as if they had a wallet in there. Ha! But often the cultures where this is practiced have very rigid gender roles that really curtail women's freedom, and where it is not appropriate for a baby or toddler girl to wear anything but a feminine clothing. Is this part of that?

I think personal adornment is a form of self expression, but when it is gender related, I wonder at what age it is really appropriate. Would an 8 year old wear lipstick every day, if her parents would permit it? Would she wear high heels every day? A mini skirt? Would she dress like a Bratz doll? And if so, why? What do earrings mean to a growing girl before she hits puberty, and during? Are earrings like lipstick? If not, how are they different?

And then there is the naturalistic approach to the issue. I didn't read modestmama's comment as saying that earrings damage beauty, but just that they are adult things out of place on a child- as if you tried to put earrings on something naturally young and inherently lovely in itself, like a lamb or a rabbit or a panda. To her, I guess it would look ridiculous. And I'm going to have to think about this one. Because little gold earings on a baby or toddler are adorable. But earrings on an older child might be a little weird - a step toward JonBenet Ramsey.

I used to be the one that voiced my opinion on other mom's to wait until the child was ready. Until I had my own baby girl of course. When I took our dd to her 8 week check up, the doctor asked during the visit if I was planning on getting her ears pierced. I said probably not for a while. But she started explaining that it would be really easy to do it now while she is so young and didn't have control of her hands. That way she wouldn't touch or pull on them. Since they would always be there-she wouldn't be too curious about them- it would just be apart of her.

She gave me some suggestions for moms having their infants/little girls ears pierced. After reading them and calling around to find the right place/person to pierce her ears, we went and had her ears pierced at Piercing Pagoda. And the doctor was right. We have never had a problem with her pulling them or touching them. And she is really good about letting me change them. She didn't even cry much when it was done and much less than her shots. Our ped said if they cry, it is because of being restrained or the noise of the piercing instrument.

If you would like our ped's tips, write me an e-mail and I'll send them to you.


This is one of the issues that my husband & I are in rare agreement on. So when I went to Mexico DF to visit the in-laws with my 3 month old daughter and my SIL had a pair of gold earrings waiting for my daughter, I didn't have to be the bad guy. I have a hard enough time keeping their hair combed and tiny things out of their mouths without adding earrings.
My 4 year old loves the necklaces that her dad keeps bringing home for her but she breaks them--she decides she doesn't want them on anymore & can't wait to ask me to take them off so she just rips them off! Do you think I'd put earrings on this child?!

I kinda wish I had my daughter's ears pierced when she was too young to grab her ears. She's almost 20 months now, and there is no way ear piercing could be done safely because she puts things in her mouth a lot. Taking care of a new ear piercing for a child seems rather inconsequential in the context of having to take care of every other aspect of hygiene.

Anyway, it will wait until she asks for them. I have a feeling she will too because she seems to like jewelry.

I took Evie to the peditrician at 6 months & the doctor did it. A big part of the reason I choose our particular ped was because he is Italian & I knew he would help hold off my inlaws, who are both from Italy, & insisted we do it asap. I specifically asked the ped his stance on it before Evie was even born.

It was a compromise on my part. Evie is named after my maternal grandmother, which was a bit hard for his family to take. I don't think they bought her one piece of clothing that wasn't pink until after she was 2 yo & I knew I would/will be fighting the gender stereotypes for the duration. I told DH I would consent to pierce her ears when the ped said it was safe, which was after 6 months, in return for us naming her what we did.

When I had it done, it was awful. They had told me they numb the lobe before I made the appointment & they didn't. It was another one of those situations where I was grateful I BF because she would have been inconsolable if I couldn't nurse her!

Looking back, we haven't had one single problem & I really haven't cleaned her ears since those 6 weeks after they were pierced. Last year, on her 2nd birthday, I replaced the gold & pearl studs with some sweet simple silver hoops that she loved. I really like that I gave her her first jewelry & that she remembers & knows that. To me, that makes up for the whole genderfication issue. Jewelry isn't something a man has to bestow on her or something that's value is judged upon it's monetary value, but as a gift to mark an occasion or milestone.

you all are crazy to judge... This is America !!! Do What you feel is right with your child, as long as its not killing or harming them, who cares what other people say. people can go on and on with circumcisions, immunizations, they may seem cruel but they have a purpose.. babies get sick and cry with out ones control, regaurdless how much you protect them... just do what you feel is right.

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