Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
January 21, 2024 ·  6 min read

Why Piercing Your Baby’s Ears Might Not Be a Good Idea

If you have your ears pierced, at what age did you have them done? I was seven when I got mine done. My mom asked me if I wanted them, and after some thought, I decided yes. Some girls in my class whose parents had their ears pierced when they were less than a year old. At the time, I remember being a bit jealous because, of course, babies don’t remember the pain or have a stomach full of anxiety leading up to the event like I did. That being said, is piercing your baby’s ears actually a good idea? The answer isn’t so clear.

Is Piercing Your Baby’s Ears A Good Idea?

Though in some cultures, piercing your baby’s ears is commonplace, it is slightly more controversial in many others. Some parents like the idea, whereas others are firmly against it. There are many questions surrounding its safety, ethics, and more. Though the answer isn’t as straightforward as you might hope, you can weigh the pros and cons provided by experts, so you have the right tools to decide for yourself. (1)

How Early Can You Pierce Your Baby’s Ears?

Though in some places, people will pierce their baby’s ears when they are only just weeks old, some pediatricians suggest waiting until your child has had at least two tetanus vaccinations. This means waiting until they are at least four months old. Others recommend waiting until six months when they are fully vaccinated against tetanus. (2)

Dr. Orina Ocampo, however, says that two months is ideal. She says this coincides well with the child’s first round of vaccinations and is also before babies learn to localize pain. This prevents them from grabbing at their ears because they are sore. (3)

“Babies can’t localize pain, so even though it might be a little bit painful, they can’t reach up and touch their ears and pull the earring out,” says pediatrician Dr. Norina Ocampo. “The pain usually goes away within a couple of days.” (3)

The American Society of Pediatrics recommends waiting until your child is old enough to take care of the piercing themselves. That being said, they do agree that as long as the piercing is done properly and cleaned according to after-care instructions, there is little risk to the child regardless of their age. (4)

The Risks Of Piercing Your Baby’s Ears

Naturally, no matter how old you are, there are certain risks involved in piercing a part of your body, including the ears. These risks include (1):

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Low-grade inflammation
  • Scarring

From there, there is the risk of the baby grabbing at and ripping out one or both of the earrings. Dr. Ocampo says this risk is higher when the baby reaches five or six months old because this is when they learn to localize pain. (3) On top of that, there is the risk that the child could pull the earrings out and damage their earlobes. They may also then put the earring in their mouth and choke.

“[Make sure you] ask yourself the question ‘does it really need to be done?, and in choosing the person who’s going to do it, just make sure that it’s done to the highest possible standards of hygiene to reduce the risk of infection.” advises obstetrician Dr. Gannon. (3)

Read: I Don’t Want To Circumcise My Son But My Family Strongly Disagrees

Keloid Risk

Keloids are small overgrowths of scar tissue that form when the skin is “traumatized.” They are a relatively common occurrence with piercings of any kind. When you have your ears pierced, your body views it as a serious injury and attempts to heal itself by creating scar tissue. Sometimes, your body overproduces this, and the scar tissue spreads out from the site of the original wound. This causes a small bump, called a keloid, to form that can often be bigger than the piercing itself. (5)

Though it hasn’t been studied extensively, one study did find that those who are pierced at 11 years old and up are more likely to develop keloids than kids under 11. This is particularly true for those with a family history of keloids. People with darker skin tones are also more likely to develop keloids than fairer-skinned people. (5) With proper care post-piercing, keloids can be avoided. If a small one does form, it can go away on its own with the help of certain products. If those don’t work or the keloid is large, they can be removed using (5):

  • Surgery
  • Pressure rings
  • Corticosteroid and other injections
  • Cryotherapy
  • Laser therapy

How To Take Care Of Your Baby’s Piercing

If you do decide to go ahead and pierce your baby’s ears, there are certain protocols that you should follow to ensure their safety. These include where you take your baby to get pierced and how they do it, proper cleaning and handling afterward, and monitoring for infection. (1)

“in choosing the person who’s going to do it, just make sure that it’s done to the highest possible standards of hygiene to reduce the risk of infection.” says Dr. Gannon. (1)

Using a sterilized needle is also safer than the piercing gun used in many mall stores, kiosks, and salons. In many cases, you can have your child’s ears pierced at the doctor’s office. It is also important to ensure that the jewelry being used is 24 karat gold to avoid an allergic reaction. (3)

“You will never have a reaction to pure gold,” explains Dr. Ocampo. “People who are allergic are not allergic to the gold — 14-karat and 18-karat are not 100 percent pure, so they add other alloys like nickel. It’s usually the nickel they have an allergic reaction to. Twenty-four-karat gold is pure gold.” (3)

Post-Piercing Care

After-care is the most important part of ensuring that piercing your baby’s ears goes well. The person who pierces your child’s ears will likely give you instructions and the products you need for this. At the very least, they’ll tell you where to get them. Proper care includes (6):

  • Using a cotton swab to apply an antibiotic ointment to the piercing twice a day.
  • Not removing or changing the earrings for at least 6 weeks.
  • Rotating the earrings twice daily.
  • Touching the piercings as little as possible. When you have to touch them, only do so after thoroughly washing your hands.

What To Do If Your Child’s Piercing Becomes Infected

Proper aftercare should prevent infection; however, it’s not a 100% guarantee. Monitor your child’s ears for signs of infection, including (6):

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Oozing
  • Warm to the touch
  • A temperature of 100.4 degrees F or higher
  • The piercing won’t turn

Babies’ ears are sensitive, so do not use alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. Instead, clean the piercing with a saline solution. If you don’t see improvement in two days, you will need to see your pediatrician. (6)

The Bottom Line

Piercing your baby’s ears is entirely up to you. Some parents want to get it done before their child is old enough to have fear and anxiety around it. Others would rather wait until the child is old enough to decide for themselves. Either way, there is very little risk to the health of your child.

Keep Reading: Baby Was Photographed with the 1,616 IVF Needles It Took To Conceive Her


  1. Thinking about getting your baby’s ears pierced? Read this first….” Belfast Live. Zahra Mulroy.
  2. Table 1. Recommended Child and Adolescent Immunization Schedule for ages 18 years or younger, United States, CDC
  3. When can you pierce a baby’s ears?Fatherly. Patrick Coleman.
  4. Ear Piercing.” Peds in Review. Jillian Parekh and Faye Kokotos.
  5. Relationship Between Age of Ear Piercing and Keloid Formation.” Pediatrics. Joshua E. Lane, Jennifer L. Waller, Loretta S. Davis.
  6. Avoiding Infection After Ear Piercing.” Healthy Children.