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Babies and ear piercings: Is it ever OK?

NightLight · December 13, 2021

Actress Hilary Duff has received backlash for getting her babies' ears pierced, but what's the risk?

  • Written by: Nicole Pelletiere, Senior Lifestyle Editor for Fox News

Actress Hilary Duff sounded off on Instagram this week, alerting followers that she was ready for any backlash associated with her having her 7-month-old baby’s ears pierced.

“Yes! I pierced her ears today,” Duff posted Sunday on Instagram Stories. “Can’t wait for the internet to call me a child abuser….again.”

Duff also got some flack in 2019 after sharing a photo of her first child, who was 8 months at the time, wearing earrings.

Followers either came to the new mom’s defense or critiqued her based on the age of Duff’s child and the speculated risks behind the procedure.

“The AAP [American Academy of Pediatrics] — their general rule of thumb is there’s not a set age. They state that it’s best to do it when the child is able to take care of the piercing themselves,” Dr. Anastasia Gentles, pediatrician at NightLight Pediatric Urgent Care, which is part of the Pediatrix Medical Group in Houston, Texas, told Fox News.

“If the parents are taking care of it for the baby, then they can do it,” Gentles added. “It’s a cultural preference. There are some cultures that do it right out the womb, and there are some cultures that wait until later.”

Still, Gentles said ear piercings do present some risks, and there are guidelines parents can follow.

Here are safety tips and more from Gentles.

Be sure safe metals, appropriate jewelry are being used 

When it comes to metals, gold and sterling silver are best as nickel could cause an allergic reaction, Gentles said.

Avoid hoops, too. Babies can pull on them, causing earlobes to tear.

Gentles mentioned that screw-back earrings may be the safest route as the child is less likely to be able to remove the earring and ingest small parts. In addition, screw-backs with round threads are less likely to become embedded in the ear lobe, which could result in a removal procedure.

Consult with your pediatrician on where to go

Gentles said even if your pediatrician doesn’t do piercings, they’re likely to recommend a reputable doctor who will offer the procedure using a sterile technique.

“Most pediatricians will also recommend waiting until the tetanus period is done,” Gentles said. “Three shots are done at six months.”

What about pain?

Your child is likely to feel brief pain considering the ears contain nerve endings, though numbing cream is an option, Gentles said.

Be aware of keloids

Keloids, or raised scars, are likely to form if there’s a family history. It’s not harmful, though cosmetic and can form typically after age 11. If you’re going to do it [having your child’s ears pierced], do it before 11 if you have [keloids in your family],” Gentles said.

Know the signs of infection

Local infection can look like redness, swelling and puss from the wounds. Fever is another sign, yet more severe. In any case, bring your child to their pediatrician.

“With the right procedure recommendation and following the right processes, you’ll be fine,” Gentles said.