When Can You Pierce Baby’s Ears?

(Last updated on August 28, 2022 by Dr. Carolina Estevez)

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— Dad’s Agree  Subject Matter Expert —
Brandon Walsh

Brandon Walsh

The information within this article is in accordance with the latest research from child development experts.

Table of Contents

Different cultures have varying values when it comes to baby ear piercing. Typically, Americans wait until children are old enough to make the decision for themselves, though that’s not always the case, especially considering that the United States is a melting pot of different people and perspectives.

Often, it’s an important part of a specific culture. With that in mind, just when can you pierce your baby’s ears? While that decision is largely up to individual parents, there is a threshold for how young a baby can be when getting their ears pierced.

Let’s dive in and take a closer look at just how old your child should be before they get a baby ear piercing.

When to Get Baby Ear Pierced?

Whether it’s a cultural practice or because you don’t want your baby to remember the pain of their ears being pierced, some people choose to get their children’s ears pierced young. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) doesn’t give a definitive time frame for piercings. While they suggest waiting until your child is old enough to decide for themselves, they also recognize that piercing is an important part of many peoples’ identities. 

With that in mind, you want to ensure that your baby is as safe as possible when getting their ears pierced. Some physicians suggest waiting until they have had their inoculations and vaccines before piercing your baby’s ears.

Others simply say that your baby needs to have had two tetanus shots before getting their ears pierced. That’s typically around four months old if you follow the CDC’s timeline for vaccinations.

How Much Does Baby Ear Piercing Cost?

Every venue is going to have a unique price, but you can expect to pay at least $30. Some places will include the actual piercing for free, so long as you purchase something like an earring kit from them.

Usually, this includes a set of studs and the cleaning solution you’ll need to keep your baby’s ears healthy.

How Long Does Baby Ear Piercing Take to Heal?

Healing can be a long process and is entirely dependent on how well you care for your baby’s ears. After all, it’s easy to get a baby ear piercing infection.

Typically, you will have to leave the studs in for at least six weeks. Then, you’ll be able to change them out.

However, you will need to keep some form of post-backed earring in your baby’s ears for six months, at a minimum. Otherwise, you run the risk of the holes closing up.

Where to Get Baby Ear Piercing?

There are plenty of options for getting your baby’s ears pierced safely. While you can rely on accessories shops, like Claire’s, to get the job done, it may surprise you to learn you can also go to many tattoo parlors.

Don’t think that a tattoo parlor is an unsanitary place to get a baby’s ears pierced, either. Often, they follow better safety protocols and have superior training to other venues.

However, it’s a good idea to always call whatever venue you’ve chosen ahead of time to see if they will pierce a baby’s ears. Some places may strictly work with adults, and it’s wise to establish that ahead of time, rather than wasting a trip.

Best Earring Styles for Baby

The number one priority when choosing an earring style for a baby is identifying ones that are kid-friendly and comfortable. Fortunately, most baby earrings are specifically designed to prevent discomfort. 

They are typically lightweight and made from thinner cuts of metal so as not to be too heavy and place undue weight on a baby’s ears. Quality earrings usually have additional measures in place to keep them more secure. After all, earrings are tiny enough to either get lost or even be a potential choking hazard if they were to come loose. 

When choosing an earring style, it’s a good idea to look for ones that are sized between 3mm and 4mm to ensure that they are a better fit. Consider the size of the posts, too, since shorter posts are more likely to help with their comfort factor.

Choosing a hypoallergenic earring will add an extra layer of safety. Look out for ones that aren’t likely to irritate the skin, like high-quality gold, sterling silver, stainless steel, and titanium. Avoid earrings that contain potentially harmful metals like cobalt, lead, and nickel.

The back is another important consideration. Butterfly backs are a popular choice because they can be easily slid onto the earring’s post. However, their convenience doesn’t mean that they are the safest option. 

For a more secure design, screw backs may be best. These are earrings that are twisted into place. These can be a great option for little ones since they are harder for a baby to remove. 

When choosing a screw back, look for styles that have a covered post, as these decrease the risk of them becoming a choking hazard.

Once you have found an earring style that is perfectly safe and comfortable, then it is ultimately up to you what design you opt for. Whether it’s Disney or a birthstone, the appearance is bound to be safe and comfortable so long as you find an earring designed specifically for babies.

If The Baby Has Allergies

Unfortunately, you may not realize that your baby has an allergy or sensitivity to a metal until they have their little ears pierced. 

An allergic reaction may cause redness, eczema, swelling, discharge, and more. These are often the same symptoms of having an infection, which can make identifying an allergen difficult. With that being said, if both ears experience symptoms, it’s more likely to be an allergy than an infection.

If you leave the allergen untreated, your baby’s piercings may develop an infection. To avoid this entirely, you need to get allergen-safe piercings, which many venues offer. Don’t be fooled by “gentle skin” options. Instead, ensure you’re getting a metal or alloy that is completely safe.

Two of your safest options for studs are surgical steel and pure gold. Surgical steel may be harder to find, and basic studs most likely won’t be made from steel.

So, your best bet is to ensure the earrings you use for your baby are 24 karat gold. Anything less will be mixed with something, usually nickel.

Unfortunately, 24 karat gold is expensive. However, nickel is the largest metal allergen, causing the most issues for piercings. To ensure your baby stays completely safe, spend a little (or a lot) extra and get your baby pure gold.

If you want to be sure that it’s completely safe to get your baby’s ears pierced, you can try testing for allergies via a patch test. These tests are relatively painless and won’t cause any harm to your baby. If your little one has an allergy, the skin beneath the patch will become red, with no other symptoms.

Should a baby have a nickel allergy, that doesn’t mean you need to avoid ear piercing. You can always get tests to ensure the jewelry you choose is up to standard.

Specifically, you’ll want to get a dimethylglyoxime test. This will ensure that there is no nickel or other allergenic metals present in the earrings themselves.

How to Care for Baby Ear Piercing?

Often, the venue where you get your baby’s ears pierced will have a guide on aftercare for you. Follow their instructions for the best results for your baby’s piercing.

However, just in case, it’s a good idea to know the basic steps of aftercare to help avoid your baby developing an infection.

The first thing to know is that you must vigorously wash your hands before touching the piercings. You will need to apply an antibiotic cream or ointment twice a day, usually using a cotton bud or pad.

To prevent the skin from forming over the piercing, you’ll need to rotate the earrings at least twice a day. However, as mentioned, don’t remove or change the earrings for at least six weeks.

How to Spot an Infection?

The signs of an infection are very similar to that of your baby having an allergic reaction. Because your baby won’t be able to tell you what’s wrong, you’ll have to keep an eye out for these telltale signs.

Are baby’s earlobes red? Are they swollen? Does the piercing refuse to turn? Is there any puss or discharge from the piercing? Do the lobes feel warm to the touch? Does your baby have a fever of 100.4° or higher?

These are all signs of an infection, and you need to deal with them ASAP. If left untreated, an infection can quickly escalate, and you don’t want anything bad to happen to your little one. 

Thankfully, infections are rare, especially if you practice good aftercare, and they are easily treated.

How to Treat an Infection?

If you do notice the signs of an infection, you can use a saline solution to clean around your baby’s piercings. You may be tempted to try rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, but don’t use these as they will cause irritation.

You can either buy a saline solution or easily make one with what you have in your kitchen.

All you need to do is boil about two cups of water for at least fifteen minutes. Then, once it has cooled to room temperature, you can add one teaspoon of salt. Mix until it has thoroughly dissolved. Voila! You have a safe and easy saline mixture.

Don’t keep the saline for more than 24 hours, however. Once you’ve used it to clean the piercing, make sure you rotate the earring itself.

If you don’t see any improvement in the infection within two days, you need to take your baby to the pediatrician.

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