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Are there medical reasons not to pierce my baby’s ears?
Q: I was wondering if there are any medical reasons why I should not pierce my daughter's ears. She is 3 ½-months-old.
Jennifer Concord
A: Jennifer, thanks for your question about piercing your baby’s ears. Some cultures have routinely pierced baby girls’ ears for centuries, and it’s now becoming more common in the United States.

Ear piercing is generally safe. Your main concern is to prevent infection of your baby’s ears. It’s probably best to wait a few months to pierce her ears after she’s had several tetanus immunizations—the tetanus shot is part of the DTP shot that’s usually given at 2, 4, and 6 months of age. Make sure the piercing is done at a place that follows proper hygiene measures, similar to when your baby gets her immunizations—the piercer should wash her hands, wipe your daughter’s ears with alcohol, and use sterile piercing equipment and earrings. Ear piercing is usually done with a piercing gun which is simple, fast, and causes little pain. Use gold earrings to reduce the chance of allergic reaction and infection. Be ready to comfort your daughter afterwards, as you do for her immunizations.

To prevent infection afterwards, try to keep your hands and her hands away from her ears as much as possible, since our hands are often loaded with germs. During the first month after piercing, clean her ear lobes daily with soap and water and/or alcohol.

Another concern is that babies can pull out their earrings, tear their ear lobes, and put the earrings in their mouths and choke on them. To reduce the chance of those problems, use small stud earrings with very secure backs.
Karen Sokal-Gutierrez M.D., M.P.H. Pediatrician