Is It Okay For Babies?

Is it ever too early to pierce a baby's ears? Ari Brown, MD, explains.
Ari Brown, MD, FAAP

Is it ever too early to pierce a baby's ears? Ari Brown, MD, explains. Your question:
I have a three-month-old baby girl and I would like to know when is the best time to have her ears pierced and what are the risks?

The physician answers:
Ear piercing is a safe procedure for your infant. Obviously it is a personal choice whether you want to have your baby's ears pierced before she (or he) decides on their own.

Here are the medical considerations you should be aware of:

1. Infection -- Inserting a needle through the ear carries a small risk of infection. A localized skin infection, called cellulitis, can cause redness, swelling, drainage of pus and potentially a fever.

Infants who are under one month of age who develop a fever of 100.4 or greater taken rectally are routinely admitted to the hospital because the risk of serious bacterial infection is higher in this age group.

For this reason alone, it just makes sense to wait on an elective procedure like ear piercing until at least one month of age. Some pediatricians prefer to wait until four months of age so that the babies have received at least two doses of their tetanus vaccination first.

2. Allergy -- Some people are allergic or sensitive to the metal in the posts or backing. To avoid this problem, it's probably best to use either surgical steel or 14K gold products.

3. Scar formation -- Some people have poor wound healing where a thickened area of skin develops at the site of a break in the skin. If anyone in your family has this problem, you might want to wait until your baby is old enough decide whether or not she wants to take this risk.

4. Cosmetic result -- Babies can be moving targets. Be sure that the person performing the procedure is comfortable with infants. Otherwise, you may have some uneven (and unhappy) results! PregnancyAndBaby.com

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