When and how to get your baby's ear pierced

I got my baby’s ears pierced without my husband’s knowledge. He was very clear he didn’t want to inflict pain on her. Her ears, her choice, he stated. Though I agreed with him in theory, I wanted to “finish the job”. So I went ahead with a gunshot piercing at a jewellery store but came out feeling rather unaccomplished. My baby had cried her lungs out and I wondered whether I had done the right thing.

Ear piercing is a very important custom for most communities. But what’s a good time to pierce a baby’s ear? What is the safest method of piercing? Here are some answers:

Some people believe that when skin is tender (younger), it is easier to bore a hole and will cause less pain to the child.

We cannot be sure of this. Threshold of pain is different for different people. One cannot be sure whether the pain felt by a three-month-old is way lesser than that experienced by a 12-month-old or a 12-year-old.

A newborn can be taken by surprise and the procedure can be finished in a jiffy.

This is partially true. An older baby—even as old as three months like mine was—can feel disturbed when people begin to fuss around it (by applying cream on the lobes, marking the place of piercing) and is likely to show more resistance when the procedure is being carried out.

Gunshot piercing is better than the traditional way of piercing.

Not really. The stems of such earrings are much longer than a regular pair. The long stem can graze or poke the skin behind the ear, especially during a head injury.

Gunshot piercing is over in a flash.

Yes. However, again because of the long stem and its structure, during removal, the stem and stud have to be yanked apart. They do not unscrew. This can cause some frustrating moments when you are trying to remove it off your baby or toddler.

Traditional piercing is not sterile.

Not true. An experienced goldsmith will sterilise his equipment and earring before he clips it on to your child.

If ear piercing is an important tradition in your family, do weigh the pros and cons. After any kind of piercing, the area can be cleaned with alcohol spirit, coconut oil or fresh aloe vera gel. They help calm an irritated skin.