Ear piercing in babies and toddlers

I was in a small accessory and jewellery store today. This particular place does ear piercing. A woman was there with her baby, who couldn’t have been more than about 1 1/2. I was shopping and didn’t pay much notice to them, until the child started screaming. A staff member was piercing her ears while the mother and another staff member held her down. It was an awful sound - cries and screams of obvious pain from the poor little girl, and she began hyperventilating and didn’t stop crying or hyperventilating for a good 10 minutes after the incident.

I’ve never understood why some parents do this. A child that young has no say, doesn’t know what’s happening or why, they just know they’re experiencing pain and fear. Why do some people feel the need to have their babies’ ears pierced?? Is it really worth putting the kid through torture for vanity? What’s wrong with letting them get old enough to decide if they even want that or not?

Actually, I would consider that child abuse. If I were a cop, I would call it in and see if cops in charge would let me make an arrest. Parents and piercer.

IMO, one reason could be it’s cultural. I was soundly mocked by the Filipina nurse for NOT getting my daughter’s ears pierced when she was a baby.

I don’t like it either–but it’s not up to me to choose for some other parent. My daughter got her ears pierced as an 8th grade “going to HS now” gift. <shrugs>

I don’t really have a dog in this fight, caring not a whit whether people have their babies’ ears pierced or not, but a logical question is: are your ears pierced? Because my ears are pierced, I was 16, and it certainly didn’t hurt. And my daughters had theirs pierced at age 12, and it didn’t hurt. Having your ears pierced doesn’t normally hurt, as the needle goes through cartilage, and only a bit of skin. So I submit for your consideration, as a mother of three, that the toddler was screaming, not in pain and agony, but in fury at being held down. Being held down and “interfered with” by strangers, whether it’s an ear-piercing stranger or a shoe-trying-on-stranger or a taking-your-temperature-in-your-ear stranger sends most toddlers straight into the ballistic stratosphere.

This won’t fly, because getting your ears pierced doesn’t normally hurt, so you’d have a hard time making a case for either the police or Child Protective Services, many of whose employees at both places have pierced ears.

It took 3 firemen to hold my daughter down so the doctor could remove the raisin she’d stuck up her nose. She was 20 months old.

Made those big men cry, she did.

Do you consider a Bris to be child abuse, then?

Y’all must be genetically lacking some nerve endings in your ears, then. Of course piercing hurts! Most of us, anyway. I had my first holes done at 13, and they hurt like hell. Had my second holes done at 23, and I passed out. Only briefly, but there was black and whooshing and I sat down on the floor rather more quickly than intended.

I haven’t gotten a third set done, although I really want to. I’ve had three tattoos, though. Those don’t hurt nearly as much as my ears.

As for the OP: yeah, cultural. I do think earrings look really cute on babies, but I can’t do it to my daughter. Early piercings aren’t a part of my culture, anyway. I like the idea of them being a coming-of-age ritual of sorts.

My ear piercings did not hurt, and neither did my eyebrow ring. Not a bit of pain at all, just pressure.

That’s a good question, and I’m not sure of the answer, never having had a kid. I don’t think I would have it done to my own child. And if I were magically transmuted into a cop, I would have a good enough understanding to know that I couldn’t get away with charging someone with a crime for performing it.

But that’s why the “cop” me would call in about a piercing – because my instincts tell me this is abuse happening right before my eyes. I would revise my earlier post to say that I would step in and stop it from proceeding until I got an order either way from TPTB.

I might even call 911 if just little old regular me saw this in a store. I’ve never thought about this before, and I’ll have to give it some thought. I had no idea people pierced infants – you learn something every day. I’m kind of apalled by the very idea.

Well sure, but you’ve got those eyebrows of doom workin’ for ya! :wink:

Yes, I have two piercings in each ear which I got when I was also 12. And yes, they did hurt. A sharp jolt of pain when the stud went through, and then it throbbed for a bit afterwards. Whether it hurts or not probably depends on the individual, and the baby’s screams didn’t sound like anger or frustration - I heard enough of that from my babysitting days to know the difference. It sounded like she was in pain.

I’d be more concerned about the setting of the whole thing, the lack of experience on the part of the “piercer”, and the fact that it was (most likely, though the OP doesn’t say) done with a gun than the child’s age.

But I also disagree, in general, with poking holes into people who don’t specifically ask for them.

I’m a guy, and I got one ear pierced when I was 16 or 17. Yeah, I know, I was really cool.

It did hurt, not just pressure, but actual pain. As a matter of fact my ear didn’t feel normal until the next day, even then it was tender. I got a tattoo when I was 18, and while that certainly didn’t feel good, it was uncomfortable. If I had a low pain threshold, wouldn’t the tattoo have sent me over the top?

Just cartilage. :rolleyes: Most of one’s nose is cartilage too, ever had a zit on the tip of your nose? Right between the nostril and upper lip? Not exactly fun. Those are just zits, not holes shot clean through a part of your body.

Held down? Which part of that would infuriate the baby? maybe if the baby was being pinned down to the point of pain, but I find that highly dubious. As a mother of three, surely you’ve heard of swaddling.

The injection of a metal spike through the babies ear couldn’t have been the cause of the cries? Of course, not. Ears are just cartilage, and nobody has ever used manipulation of someone’s ears to cause pain for the purpose of punishment or disciplining. Ears are only cartilage, they can feel no pain. :rolleyes:

:smiley: Hee!
Wait, was the baby being pierced through the *cartilage *or the lobe? Cause cartilage *would *hurt like hell.

  1. It’s swell that so many people apparently have painless piercings, but piercing can and does hurt for some, possibly most, people.

  2. Personally I feel that for a body modification like piercing, you should wait until the child is old enough to ask for it.

  3. But I still wouldn’t go so far as to classify this as child abuse.

  4. Swaddling is something you typically only do with young infants, and even then, a lot of times they scream bloody murder for a few seconds/minutes until they realize, oh, hey, this isn’t so bad, and quiet down. You don’t really swaddle 18-month-olds, and trust me, an 18-month child can scream its fool head off when having its arms held down. We had a really fun time getting a chest X-ray done on Whatsit Jr. right around that age.

  5. That having been said, I can easily believe that the kid was crying from having a needle poked through its ear.

  6. I like making lists.

HA! Nice try, but she said it was a toddler (1 1/2,) not a newborn. Toddlers are WAY past the swaddling stage, and are entirely pissed off if you hold them still against their will.

The thing is, if the kid was only crying out of anger and/or fear at being held, she would have chilled out as soon as she was let go - she’s too young to do the “intentionally cry to make Mom sympathetic” thing. Since it went on for much much longer than the actual holding down part, and since the OP knows what a pain cry sounds like (as opposed to an anger cry - trust me, if you’re a parent, you know the difference!) I’m perfectly prepared to believe the girl was in pain as well as being pissed off.

Holes, plural? Seems to me the extreme reaction to piercing one ear would’ve discouraged an attempt at the other. What are you, some kinda masochist?


I’ve never had my ears pierced, but I can’t imagine it hurts worse than, say, an immunization shot. You wouldn’t consider giving a kid a dip-tet shot “torture,” would you? Granted, an immunization shot serves a much more important purpose than a vanity piercing, but from the infant’s perspective, I doubt it makes much difference. Part of being a kid is that, from time to time, your parents are going to do things that cause you pain or discomfort, and you’ll have no idea why.

What I wonder about is the earrings themselves. Seems like that would be a pretty serious choking hazard. Do they have special child-proof earrings, or something?

Yes, they have screw on backs, instead of the press-on of grownup earrings. Some people also solder little hoops shut, and then cut them when the child is older.