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Don’t feel guilty about piercing your baby girl’s ears

Is piercing a baby’s ears cruel or cute? As a former baby with pierced ears of my own, I have a special message for parents who are on the fence.

When I was a baby, my parents were missionaries in South America. My mom has proudly told the story of my infant ear piercing at the tender age of six months old. While my mother was breastfeeding me in a South American church, she was essentially ambushed by local churchgoers. The women told her in Spanish to keep nursing me so that I wouldn’t cry while they popped a needle in each ear.

I love that story. And look at me now — I’m a grown-ass woman with two pierced ears who loves to wear earrings. If anything, this early piercing experience slanted me in the opposite direction (I sported an ear full of earrings as a teenager in the ’90s.)

What I’m trying to say is, as a former baby myself, piercing a little girl’s ears is not a big deal. Yet it has become one of the top parenting debates that has ended friendships, along with circumcision and vaccination. (And for the record, I am pro-circumcision and pro-vaccination too. Perhaps my parenting style is “cruelty.”)

In a Yahoo Parenting article that covers the Great Debate, it cites infant ear piercing concerns as infection and a possible nickel allergy. These concerns are valid, though my personal piercing story wasn’t anywhere near sanitary. But 50 percent of parents still pierce their child’s ears before age 2, based on the results of a BabyCenter survey.

What is the argument against this seemingly innocent rite of passage? It isn’t infection. It’s autonomy. The Alpha Parent argues that baby ear piercing may be a culturally accepted form of child abuse. Other commenters call it “tacky” and “silly” for babies to wear earrings.

I could not disagree more. While it’s fun to ruffle feathers and jump into parenting debates, I truly believe that infant ear piercing is a topic that does not deserve much thought. Piercing a baby girl’s ears (and sometimes a baby boy’s ears) is a cultural ritual that many parents look forward to.

In the grand scheme of things, ear piercing is not what is going to turn your child into a mass murderer. If you want to do it, do it. If you don’t, then don’t. Small piercings may close up and are hardly noticeable if an adult chooses not to wear earrings. This is not a parenting battle worth fighting.

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