Ear-piercing is clearly a hot topic among moms. Dozens of conversations on Circle of Moms debate the issue, and over 700 of you voted in our poll asking, "At what age should you pierce girls' ears?" The results show that the two camps both have very strong support. Some 44 percent chose two months to one year as the ideal age for ear-piercing, while 36 percent argued for the 5–17 year age range. So what are the arguments on each side? Here's our summary of the debate.
Reasons to Pierce an Infant's Ears
- Infants won’t be scared or remember the pain. A trained ear piercer sees a real benefit in piercing before the child builds up fear, and moms like Stephanie agree: "I didn't want her to be scared or traumatized later on." Other moms, including Lacey E., argued that piercing young is beneficial because infants soon forget about the discomfort: "I got my first daughter's done when she was only a few months old and I'm so glad I did! She loves having them pierced and she of course doesn't remember the pain."
- It's not permanent. Moms in favor of ear piercings for babies emphasize that naysayers exaggerate the permanence of ear piercings. As Jennifer L. argues, "It's not like we are putting tats on our babies." And many moms like Jennifer J. say they'd never force their girls to keep the earrings: "If she chooses to not have them pierced she can take them out."
- It'll happen eventually. Lorraine A. explains her position bluntly: "I believe 99% of girls want their ears pierced. Pierce them." Many moms agree with Lorraine's position, arguing that the vast majority of women get their ears pierced, so the end result is the same as waiting.
- It's a cultural tradition. Lupita K. is one of many that weighed in about the differences in ear-piercing traditions across different cultures. Simply put, "For many families, infant ear-piercing is traditional."
Reasons Not to Pierce an Infant's Ears
- The child should make the decision. "Earrings are an accessory. Accessories are lovely, but not loved by everyone. I don't think that ear piercing is wrong or cruel, I just think it's a decision that the child can make for themselves," explained Jaime L. By far, the most common argument against infant piercings is that the child should be the one making this decision, not the parent. "Permanent modifications should be made by the person whose body is being modified."
- There are possible permanent effects. Because babies' ears still have growing to do, some babies with pierced ears encounter centering problems as they grow up. Amy, whose ears were pierced as a baby and became off-center as she grew, argued to wait until a child's ears are no longer growing: "I say wait. Let the child grow up a bit so that her earrings are centered correctly her entire life."
- It's a family tradition. Both sides of the debate see tradition as a reason for piercing at certain age. "It's a right of passage," says Caitlin. "Most girls in my family got it done between 10-12 years, and I wanted [my daughter] to have that same experience."
Got an opinion to share? Eager to debate hot-button issues with other moms?
Circle of Moms is a place to respectfully debate parenting topics and questions, from whether it's okay to use child leashes, to what's an appropriate amount of television for your child to watch, to the benefits of bottle feeding vs. breastfeeding. Browse popular conversations, or start your own!