Whether you’re following tradition or simply enjoy the aesthetic, you might decide to pierce your baby’s ears. Many parents feel that, since their little girl will have her ears pierced eventually, it is better to do it when they won’t remember the pain, and when the earrings will heal long before their child will fuss about the process. Some people are against this process and argue that the baby doesn’t have a choice, but medically there is actually nothing wrong with it. However, there are a few things new parents should know about the piercing process to prevent infection.

Though many parents assume they need to visit a Piercing Pagoda to have their baby’s ears pierced, doctors actually recommend going to a pediatrician who agrees to do piercings. This seems strange at first, but piercing parlors must use piercing “guns” on a baby’s ears. These guns are impossible to sterilize, so there is a greater risk that they will carry viruses such as Hepatitis C. Since your baby’s immune system cannot handle this virus, it’s best to have a doctor do the piercing with a sterilized needle instead.

Next, it’s important to understand that your baby is at a higher risk for infection because she will be more interested in touching the piercings. When an adult or even an older child gets her ears pierced, she will understand the importance of leaving the opening alone as much as possible. A baby can’t understand this, and there is a greater chance she will transmit germs from her hand into the piercing.

Finally, there is a chance your infant might be allergic to a certain type of metal, and it’s important to watch out for any signs of this. Infections spread quickly in a baby’s body, and they can be dangerous and even fatal. When I got my ears pierced as an eight-year-old, we found out that I was allergic to real gold. Luckily, the infection was obvious, and we only lost a day at the pediatrician’s office and a pair of expensive unicorn earrings from my grandmother.

If you feel compelled to get your baby’s ears pierced, there is no medical evidence to dissuade you. With the proper attention and care, a baby’s body can easily handle piercings. However, be sure about it, because if your child decides she doesn’t like them, the holes will probably be permanent.

Source: Robert Weinstein et al: Transmission of Hepatitis C Virus Infection Through Tattooing and Piercing. Clinical Infectious Diseases Volume 54 Issue 8 pp. 1167-1178 January 2012

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