What I Learned When My Daughter Got Her Ears Pierced

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My daughter just celebrated her 7th birthday. When we started talking gifts, we revisited the idea of getting her ears pierced. She’d been talking about it for years, but always with apprehension. I knew she wanted to get them pierced, but I also knew she wasn’t ready. This time when we had the conversation, she was all-in, and I could tell she’d finally matured enough to follow through.

For me, it was important to get her piercing done by a professional. That meant taking my 7-year-old into a tattoo/piercing shop where she’d be pierced with a needle and not with a gun. For her, it was important her fears were validated, the process explained, and that she end her piercing experience with a fresh pair of sparkly studs.

I sought out recommendations, and there was one overwhelming response. Emily at Pink Elephant in Ankeny.

The Experience

Our experience was incredible from start to finish. Emily lived up to the hype. She explained everything in detail before she did it, exhibited so much compassion when communicating with my daughter, and made the whole process fun and exciting. Any fear or apprehension my daughter had was eased and the promise of sparkly purple earrings as a reward kept her glued to the chair for the whole process.

My daughter was so brave throughout and so proud and beaming with confidence after. She was thrilled with her new bling, and my heart nearly burst as she admired herself in the mirror for a VERY long time.

Why We Went to a Professional Piercer

Our decision to use a professional piercer with a needle versus a briefly trained associate with a piercing gun was a personal one. I did my research and ultimately decided that was the best route to take.

As I mentioned, the decision was personal but educated. Emily helped to answer my questions in regards to needle versus gun piercings and was generous enough to offer some advice and tips for any guardians toying with the idea of ear piercing.

Q: What are the benefits of getting your ears pierced with a needle versus a piercing gun?

A: There are many benefits of using a needle vs a piercing gun. First and foremost, it is cleaner.  With the gun, there is no way to fully sterilize it after each use. There are parts in the gun that cannot be run through the autoclave system which is what we use to clean our tools, needles, and jewelry. The autoclave is a pressure chamber like you would find at a dentist office that our tools run through at 250 degrees for 30 minutes, to kill off all blood-borne pathogens. Needles run through this before being used. Then once we use them we toss them into a sharps container never to be used again. The gun might get a wipe down with isopropyl alcohol that cannot reach into the little spaces of the working parts of the gun.  Blood from one client can become airborne into little particles and contaminate the gun, the next ear it touches, and the jewelry it touches. 

Along with the risk of exposure to blood-borne pathogens, the trauma from piercing with the blunt earring versus a needle can cause a lot of damage and draw out the healing process leading to more issues and complications. Needle piercings with quality jewelry tend to heal much faster with fewer issues. 

Q: In your opinion, what is the best age to get a child’s ears pierced?

A:  I don’t know that there is a set correct age for piercing your child’s ears. All ages can be great and all ages can have issues with it.  It really depends on your child’s readiness to handle the piercing.  I’ve had 2-year-olds laugh through the process along with cry and get upset about doing the other side. I’ve also had 9 and 10 year olds handle it amazingly and I’ve had times where we spend a long time trying to do the next ear. 

I tell a lot of parents to gauge how kids do with shots to get an idea of how they might handle the piercing. Piercing young babies I know has a lot of people back and forth with whether it’s ok or not. I feel like if you want to do them at a young age just do it as a baby. They grow up not having the issue of touching them as they heal. They don’t remember the process, and they are healed by the time they are old enough to want to change and have fun with them.  

Q: What is your favorite age to work with and why?

A:  I love working with all ages, I don’t think I have a set age that is my favorite. I enjoy the excitement they get when they have made the decision and are so proud of themselves for getting it done. The easiest age range to pierce is the 2-month to 6-month range. To see a smiley baby when it’s all done with is amazing and fun.  

Q: Any advice for guardians when choosing a place to get piercings done?

A: First and foremost, look for a clean shop walking in. Look at reviews of the shops and talk with friends who have been through it with their kids. Look into the types of jewelry available and know you are getting quality jewelry.  

Q: Any tips/tricks/advice that would be beneficial for people to know when caring for a fresh ear piercing?

A: Clean your hands before touching your piercing and leave it alone except when cleaning it. Use a water-soaked Q-Tip to clean the jewelry morning and evening. There is no need to rotate your jewelry. In addition to standard aftercare, be sure to think about sports your child is in and timing it correctly with seasons. You do not want to take the jewelry out for a minimum of 8 weeks, at that point you still can’t leave the jewelry out so it’s best if you can give it longer. In the event you have to take them out at the 2-month mark, we carry retainers you can put in that are medically safe and sports safe to hold the holes open during these events.

Another thing to think about is summertime and swimming. If your family goes to lakes or rivers in the summer, that is not the best time to get ears pierced. You want to wait for them to completely heal before going into those waters. Avoiding chlorine is also preferable, but not as big of an infection risk as the others.  

Prepare your child as much as possible for the experience. If they are the type of child who does well with watching videos of how things are done, go on YouTube (by yourself first to weed out bad videos) and find videos of piercing children’s ears with needles. Have them watch to fully understand what it is they are wanting to do and decide if they are really ready. Don’t sugarcoat the process. Let them know it will hurt so they are not shocked with the first one and too scared to do the next. If your child would do better with coming in for a consultation to see the shop, check things out ask questions that is always an option at our shop as well.

Emily happily shared her wealth of knowledge and is a genuinely kind person. I would highly recommend her if you’re considering an ear piercing for your child. Do your research, age-appropriately prepare your child, and schedule the appointment if and when you decide it’s right for you. We’re now 3 weeks out from our piercing, and the tenderness has long subsided, but the confidence and pride in my 7-year-old has not. I’m glad we waited until I could share in this excitement with her, it’s something we’ll treasure forever.

Do your kids have their ears pierced? 

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Kinzy is a self-proclaimed “cool mom” to 3 spirited kids: Kellan (2012), Harper (2014), and Charlotte (2019). Her husband James is a Des Moines Firefighter whose only real downfall is his wholehearted participation in “Movember.” When she’s not working diligently to answer the ten thousand questions her kids ask in a day, she can be found slamming coffee, adding things to her shopping carts online knowing full well she’ll never actually checkout, and laughing at her own jokes. She spends most of her days reminiscing about when naps were still a thing, avoiding household chores, and striving to perfect the work/life balance.

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