There are rites of passage in many cultures that are sure to raise eyebrows, and even judgmental comments, from others. Many are justified for being inhumane and even torturous, but I refuse to believe that piercing my daughter’s ears when she was an infant falls within that spectrum.
If I sound defensive right off the bat, I might be just a tiny bit. This week I wrote an article over at my Babble Voices blog – Besos – titled “How Young is Too Young for Pierced Ears?” The point I make in the article is that, just like bilingualism, the younger your girl is when she gets her ears pierced, the “easier” it will be overall. I list all the reasons in that post , but the main one I want to point out here is that when babies are younger than 4 months, they won’t interfere with the natural healing process of the piercing by touching the hole with their little hands because they just can´t yet. Once children are older, they will definitely want to touch it, thus increasing the risk for infections. Plus, I can’t even get my girl to let me brush her hair in the mornings without some sort of battle, can’t imagine trying to turn the studs and clean her piercing every day at this age!
I then shared my Babble article on the SpanglishBaby Facebook wall and the responses blew me away.
As I expected, the responses from most Latinas and other cultures who pierce their infants’ ears were pro getting it done early, with the vast majority mentioned they had gotten them done as babies and loved it. In fact, I also argue that I have yet to meet a Latina or a woman who had her ears pierced as a baby that has told me they regret having pinholes in their ears and blame their parents for doing that to them.
“In Argentina and Uruguay, when you are born, you don’t get out of the hospital unless you get your ears pierced”
“The same traditions for South Asians as well. I don’t understand the concern & controversy either. My earlobes are just fine & I’m glad I don’t remember whatever pain I may have experienced!”
“The younger the better because it’s less stressful and heals really easier and quick. After their 2 months shots should be great.”
“I am not Latina but I had my ears pierced at 6 months and took my daughter to ENT at 3 months – I have no regrets and think to call it mutilation is ridiculous.”
In the other extreme, we had some mothers and fathers claiming that it’s basically mutilation and disrespect to the baby since they don’t have a say in the matter. They have all decided to let their girls ask them when they are ready.
At the same time, others shared stories of regret their girl didn’t get pierced as a baby because they either got infections or were just too scared of the procedure, even though they really wanted earrings.
Of course, there’s always the fear of hurting our kids and that’s so understandable. But most report, myself included, that the babies cry more when getting shots than when getting their ears pierced. I don’t have hard facts for that, but it’s logical that there’s an actual perception of fear that kids develop as they grow older.
Some shared that they want to experience the milestone of doing it together as a mother-daughter moment that they can cherish forever. I can totally relate to that!
In the end, what I keep reiterating in this debate is that it’s a personal parenting choice and judgments don’t belong here. If you really feel ear piercing a baby is mutilation, then you shouldn’t be doing it, but don’t judge me for my choice because no mother sets out to hurt her child. And, no, it’s not vanity and wanting my girl to be prettier (she’s already perfect, of course! Ha!), but more a reason-based decision that I knew she’d one day want them and I could give her one more gift without her asking for it. Now we enjoy finding beautiful age-appropiate earrings together to splurge in. After all, it’s her only form of bling!
Tell me in the comments below: How do you feel about baby ear piercings? Did you get them done? Did/will your daughter(s)? Let’s continue this conversation.
Don’t forget to check out my post on Babble Voices to get tips on best practices on baby ear piercings and reasons why it’s really okay. Oh, yeah, and a fun slideshow of celebrities who have pierced their baby’s ears. Not surprisingly, the majority are Latinas!