Skip to main content

Ear Piercing: How Young Is Too Young?

Jun 18, 2014

Kim Kardashian recently showed off her one-year-old daughter's new accessory—earrings. That sparked an online debate about how young is too young for a child's ears to be pierced.

In various cultures ear piercing is done as young as days to months old. For example, in Spain and Latin America, it's customary to pierce a little girl's ears moments or days after she is born. In these cultures, it's believed that it's more painful for the child if you wait until she's older.

"The decision of if or when to pierce your child's ears is a very personal decision. There is no right or wrong answer," says Carolyn Sanchez, MD, pediatrician at University of Utah's South Jordan Health Center.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says there's little risk at any age if the piercing is performed carefully and cared for conscientiously. But the AAP does recommend waiting until a child is old enough to take care of the piercing his or herself.

Regardless of the age, if you're thinking about piercing your child's ears, there are precautions you should be aware of.

First, parents should be aware of potential infections or adverse reactions to jewelry.

Also, it's important to make sure the piercings are performed correctly. "Make sure your child gets their ears pierced at a location that uses sterile technique and follow the aftercare cleaning procedures for the full duration of time," says Sanchez. "I personally like to recommend to my patients to wait until their child has at least two tetanus vaccines."

If you're piercings a baby's ears, consider going to a trusted professional and try to avoid a jewelry store or shopping center. These places usually use piecing guns instead of needles, which can't be sterilized.

When choosing an earring for your child, use earrings that are very small, round, and as flat as possible. Never use dangling earrings, as they could get caught and tear the earlobe.

If an infection does set in call your doctor, especially if your baby runs a fever or the earlobe gets very red and swollen.