Just like many other child-rearing questions, the answer to when to pierce a child’s ears depends upon several factors. In some cultures, little ones’ ears may be pierced at or shortly after birth. However, assuming there is no cultural norm, the best answer to the question of when to pierce a child’s ears depends upon the child.
A key concern is always whether the child can hold still. When deciding whether to pierce a child’s ears, this comes into play for several reasons. First and foremost, anyone having the ear piercing procedure done needs to be still while the person performing it applies the tools of the trade. To most safely pierce a person’s ears, the jeweler or doctor, often a pediatrician in the case of children, needs to be able to align first the markings on each ear for where to put the earring to be aesthetically pleasing. If these marks are misaligned or later missed as the child wiggles, the earrings will not be at the same level on each ear when the practitioner squeezes the trigger on the gun used to apply the earrings. This comes into play more as the child grows and may wish to wear longer earrings which depend upon hanging at the same length from each earlobe to look good.
Another reason to consider whether a child can hold still when thinking about piercing the child’s ears comes into play after the procedure is done. After the ears have been pierced, the earrings need to be cleaned and turned in a circle on each ear every day. This prevents the earrings from sticking to the earlobes and causing infections. If a child is not able to be still long enough for the parent to take a cotton swab of rubbing alcohol to clean the post and then turn the earring in a circle, it is not a good time to have that child’s ears pierced. For this reason, many parents who choose to let their children have their ears pierced wait until the children are old enough to clean and turn the earrings by themselves.
Beyond these concerns, a parent needs to consider what activities the child enjoys. The right time to pierce a child’s ears is not when the child attends many sports and other functions where earrings can become caught in equipment and cause injury.
For these reasons, a parent may decide that the younger months and years or perhaps early elementary school age could be the right time to pierce the ears of a more docile child. Others would choose to wait until a more active youngster calms down or is less involved in certain activities before having the piercing done. Within one family, siblings may even have their ears pierced at different times.