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At What Age SHould I Let My Daughter Pierce Her Ears?

When Should I Let My Child Pierce Her Ears?

By Kelcey Kintner

My daughter Dylan started asking, wait… make that begging me to get her ears pierced around age 7. I told her she would have to wait until she was 12. Why? Because I got my ears pierced when I was 12 and it seemed like a perfectly good, completely arbitrary number.

So arbitrary that I ended up letting her do it on her 8th birthday.  Which is just a hair shy of 12. Like an entire presidential term. But I didn’t cave to her whining (I swear!). I just knew she was old enough to handle the responsibility and it seemed pointless to make her wait.

So how do you know when your child is ready to pierce her ears?

She really wants to.
For months and months, my daughter talked about getting her ears pierced. Unlike her desire to go bungee jumping which lasted about 4 seconds. (Let’s all be grateful for that.) Make sure it’s not a passing phase for your child as well. I had a passing phase of wanting a tattoo of my sorority Greek letters on my bikini line. Thankfully, I waited a bit and then realized I might not always cherish such a life long tribute to university Greek life on my skin. My point? Make sure your daughter really wants two holes in her ears before you take the plunge. (Also, we use girls in this example, because this story relates to my daughter, but all advice is applicable to both sexes.)

Your child easily gets ready in the morning.
You don’t have to bug her to brush her teeth or get dressed. This one is important. If you still have to nag a child to follow through on everyday personal hygiene, you will loathe trying to get her to clean her ear lobes properly twice a day for several months.  And you don’t want to slack on the lobe cleaning because it can lead to painful infections. (Any redness, swelling, pain, itching, or tenderness are signs of a possible infection or allergy and you’ll have to contact your doctor immediately. Choose earrings made of surgical stainless steel, platinum, titanium or 14K gold to hopefully avoid an allergic reaction.)

You want to distract your child from getting a dog.
Why does practically every kid want a dog? Our family is not getting a dog. Letting my daughter get her ears pierced seemed way easier. I don’t have to pick up poop off the ground. Instead I get to help my daughter pick out earrings!

The case for ear piercing at a younger age.

Some moms prefer to get their child’s ears pierced when they are very young. New York mom Amanda Drago got both her kids ears pierced when they were two years old.

“I wanted to get it done before they learned to be afraid of it. I don’t regret it.  There were no complications. And I think it is super cute.”

Sounds good in theory but she missed out on all that begging like… “Mom, can I PLEASE get my ears pierced? I’ll never ask for anything again. I PROMISE!”

Okay, my kid is ready to get her ears pierced! Where do I go?

Ask your friends where they got their daughters ears pierced. Some pediatricians will pierce ears. I took my daughter to the popular jewelry chain Claire’s and they did a great job. Sometimes two technicians can pierce both ears at the same time which makes it quicker and less painful. Make sure it’s NOT the technician’s first day on the job (also, confirm the technician is an experienced and trained professional). You want someone who has been doing several piercings a day for a year.

(Update: here’s a link to the American Academy of Pediatric’s advice on ear piercing.)

So what do you think is a good age to let a child pierce her ears?

Kelcey Kintner
About the Author

Kelcey Kintner

Kelcey Kintner, an award winning journalist and freelance writer, is a fashion critic for US Weekly, created the humor blog 

Kelcey Kintner, an award winning journalist and freelance writer, is a fashion critic for US Weekly, created the humor blog The Mama Bird Diaries and writes for the Huffington Post. You can follow her @mamabirddiaries or on Facebook. She’s still trying to fit 5 kids on a Vespa. 

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  • A

    June 25, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    I think its a highly personal parenting decision that sometimes gets a lot more controversy than it deserves. I had both my girls’ ears pierced at three weeks. I did the cleaning of the lobes, and they were too young to mess with the earrings while they were healing. 

    Timing aside, I have to disagree with mall shops for piercings. The guns are not sterile, they can’t be put in an autoclave, and are used all day long on anyone who walks in. They also force a piercing earring through the lobe, tearing the lobe, causing more trauma to the piercing site than necessary. Take the time to find a professional piercer who will use a sterile piercing needle and work in a sterile environment. 

    I do second the use of only surgical steel, 14K or 18K solid gold or platinum for earrings. Other materials can cause terrible allergic reactions which can easily lead to infection. I am super sensitive to nickel among other metals, and the reaction to costume jewelry, gold fill and gold plated is quick and painful. 

  • Holly

    June 25, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    My mom didn’t ever get her ears pierced, her mom had them done by the maid down the street with a hot needle and pieces of the broom straw to keep them open (her father promptly ripped them out because only floozies had earrings), so no real pierced ears in our family. I was born, and quite a tomboy, so not interested in it either. My sister, 4 years younger, was practically born in jewelry and fancy shoes. She started asking for her ears pierced at about 2 years old. My mom was completely at a loss and just said “Oh, when you’re 5” and promptly forgot. My sister never asked again, but she sure did remember. As her 5th birthday approached, she reminded my mom of the ‘promise’, so they went ahead and did it.

    She had tons of infections and lots of issues with the piercing. I went ahead and got mine done at 12, and didn’t really have any issues. Not sure why the difference, I’m sure my mom was diligent with the cleaning of my sister’s ears – but perhaps her 5 year old self couldn’t help but mess with them???

  • Ally

    June 25, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    My four year old really wants to get hers pierced. Luckily she is afraid of pain, so she is willing to wait a little bit longer. I really want it to be a special event she will remember. I’m thinking maybe in about 2 years. I also second the opinion about not doing a piercing gun. When she is ready I will take her to a professional piercer and have it done with a needle. It’s a lot cleaner and safer. 

  • Hi, I'm Natalie.

    June 25, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    Thank you for this —> “Also, we use girls in this example, because this story relates to my daughter, but all advice is applicable to both sexes.”

    Where I live, some of the professional (trained, legitimate, safe) piercers will take clients wanting ear-lobe piercings as young as 12, but most won’t take them until they’re 16. I’ll take my kids to get ear-lobe piercings when they independently research the safety requirements for piercings (sterile disposable needles or autoclaves are a must!), find a provider that meets those basic safety requirements, and tell me they’re ready.

    (I have had 9 piercings and have 6 hours of ink on my back, but I still have strong opinions about body piercing on children who are not able to give informed consent.)

    • Allison

      November 16, 2015 at 5:19 pm

      My daughter got her ears pierced at only 8 months old because It really doesn’t hurt her and I didn’t mind taking care of them.

  • Autumn

    June 26, 2013 at 12:52 am

    When I was 8, I finally earned my pierced ears.  I have never been a morning person, but our family rule was we had to be at the breakfast table by 7 (which was officially when this certain morning news program began on the radio).  Not my thing.  So my mom said if I could make it out there every day for a month I could get my ears pierced.  It took me 4 months but I did it.  And I was so proud of myself.  Not proud of when I was late at day 26.  That sucked, but I learned.  

    In high school, I really wanted double pierced ears, but my parents wouldn’t budge.  So 3 days after my 18th birthday, I went out and had them done myself.  My mom was so mad.  In my sassy 18 year old ness I replied “of all the things I could do now that I’m 18.  I didn’t go to the casino, I didn’t get a tattoo, I got my ears pierced.  Perspective please”  

    I think elementary school is a good age for piercings.  Old enough to be responsible for cleaning them, and willing to earn them if really motivated.  

  • Angie

    June 26, 2013 at 11:23 am

    Admittedly, it is a personal decision, but like many other moms with little girls, I was unsure when to pierce

    her ears. When I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to do it early after I dreamed seeing my baby girl with little

    earrings soon after birth. I discussed with dh and he was okay with it.

    After she was born, and I got her sweet little earrings, but I was on the fence when to do it after seeing her

    precious, tiny, perfect ears. The idea of piercing this beautiful little babies ears all of the sudden seemed

    like something I could NOT do. How could I hurt my little baby? However, after seeing more and more babies and

    little girls with cute little earrings, I began warming up to the idea of doing it as an infant.

    Somewhere along the way I became one of those mamas who became all googly-eyed over other babies who had

    pierced ears saying how adorable they were. One day I put my diamonds in and held hers up to her ears in front

    of the mirror. She smiled and I knew it was time at two months.

    I asked our ped and she encouraged me to go ahead and do it after her first DTP shot saying it was best when

    mommy could care for them during the healing period. Also, she gave me some tips for moms having their dd’s

    ears pierced. They included how to find the right person, where to take her and some OTC meds to minimize any
    discomfort. We did her at two months old and she did great.

    I had our dd pierced with some CZ’s is about the same size as my diamond earrings. She looked adorable and I

    had so many compliments on sweet little earrings. I knew that I had made the right decision.

    However, if your thinking about it, then your mommy intuition maybe be telling sooner is best. Drop me an e-

    mail if you would like our ped’s recommendations.


  • Arialvetica

    June 27, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    I’m 29 years old and have never had anything pierced.

    My mother didn’t have her ears pierced.  My father often told me (jokingly), “You can get your ears pierced when your face gets ugly and you need a distraction.”  

    The actual rule was that I could pierce anything I wanted once I was 18…but by then I had started receiving compliments on my “flawless ears” from boyfriends and decided to leave them unpierced. My husband (who had a piercing in high school, and was at one time engaged to a woman with facial piercings) continues to compliment my ears and comment on how primitive the piercing ritual is when he sees people with piercings. (He might also appreciate that we haven’t spent any money on jewelry since our wedding bands.)

    With all that said, I plan on encouraging my own children to make their own choices about body modification after they turn 18.

  • allison

    June 27, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    Just chiming in that mall stores aren’t the best idea. If that’s really all that’s available to you, I guess it’s fine, but it’s really best to go somewhere that uses a needle instead of a gun (i.e. a proper piercing shop).

  • KC

    June 27, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    I have two girls. They both got their ears pierced around 8 years old. I will say that with one it was a piece of cake, and with the other it was a disaster. You are absolutely right that how they take care of themselves should be a big clue about whether or not they are ready. The one who was fastidious about her personal hygiene was just fine… and then there was her sister. She is constantly dirty, like a female version of Pig Pen, and chewing her hair, and has her hands covered in some stickiness or the other. Add to that her very sensitive skin that breaks out in a rash at the slighest irritation. It was destined to fail. We ended up taking the earrings out of her (very infected) ears after about 8 months and told her she could try again when she was old enough to drive herself to the mall. 😉

  • Hannah

    May 26, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    Mine were pierced when I was 6. I didn’t ask for them to be done, but I agreed with my mother I would like too. She took me to a jewellers , where they also pierce ears. I faintly remember walking in there and getting nervous, but I vividly remember the pain. A sharp prick, stinging, then very sore. In my opinion, you should not pierce babies ears because it is cruel and can hurt them. Me and my daughter agreed she would wait until she was 9 to get hers pierced, but she ended up getting them at 8. This was because I was tired of her yapping at me. if I had my way , she would have had them pierced at 11, but we agreed 9 because there was no other way of conning to a conclusion

  • Manasa

    December 3, 2015 at 3:55 am

    I was actually quite surprised to read about the fact that there is controversy about piercing ears. Because, where i come from, India, its part of our culture to pierce ears: most boys and girls get it done by the time they are 1-year-old. Of course, most boys stop wearing around five, but girls continue.  

  • livedwell

    March 1, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    My granddaughter is getting her ear pierced at age 9. Her personal hygiene is terrible and her mother’s isn’t much better so there’s cause of concern. She isn’t made to “stick to” things which is sad. Hope for the best.