Having my toddler’s ears pierced

I have always been a girly kinda girl…. growing up with doll houses, pink frilly dresses and the occasional dab of lipstick whenever mum would allow it. I remember eagerly wanting to grow up just so that I could pose about all day in high heels, like beautiful mummy. Jewellery was my other love affair and a large chunk of my teenage years were spent arching my neck inside my jewellery box trying to find the perfect shade of earrings, necklace and ring to match my outfit. The love affair continues, but it’s just less plastic beads and more real pearls and diamonds now (wink, wink hubby-bi). What girl doesn’t love jewellery, right? So, when my little girl was finally born, it only seemed natural to me to want to pierce her ears and put on some beautiful tiny, sparkly studs.

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You see, the culture that I come from, having a baby girl’s ears pierced in the hospital is a common practice and very normal. It’s not a question of whether you are having it done, but rather ‘when’ are you having it done. It was only when I started to do some browsing on the internet about how to minimise any pain little Azmu would feel from the ear piercing procedure, that I came across a difference of opinion on this topic.

Consent

While doing my research, the theme of ‘Consent’ kept recurring article after article. Yes, just like the breastfeeding VS formula feeding and cloth diapers VS disposable diapers, there also existed the baby ear piercing VS say-no-to-baby-ear-piercing-because-it’s-her-right-to-choose group of parents. These parents talk about holding off on ear piercing until the girl is old enough to make the decision herself and also able to look after the piercing. Okay, I hear you and I am all about ‘her body-her choice’, but as a mother do you not already make decisions for your children that are in their best interest. You decide what they eat, what they wear, whether to be vaccinated, what school they go to, how much time they spend watching the television and so much more, all in their best interest. Ear piercing, a non-permanent cosmetic change is just another choice that a parent can make on behalf of their child and when done correctly, with no risk at all. Infact, what bothers me is when these parents don’t think about getting consent from their children before putting up their little ones pictures online for everyone to see, comment and share. These photos are much more permanent than an ear piercing. How did you make that decision yourself?

Vanity

In UK, there is a petition being signed to ban ear piercing for babies and toddlers and it has already gained 80,000 signatures. Susan Ingram, the petition’s creator, claims that ‘It is a form of child cruelty. Severe pain and fear is inflicted upon infants unnecessarily. It serves no purpose other than to satisfy the parent’s vanity. Other forms of physically harming children are illegal- this should be no different’.

I mean, I almost laughed when I read this.

Are there people out there seriously comparing ear piercing to ‘physical harm’.

My story

Allow me to tell you two stories on ear piercing. The first story is about my own ears getting pierced and the second one is on how we got Azmu’s ears pierced.

My ears were pierced when I was just a few months old and I don’t remember anything about it. I don’t remember whether I cried or felt any pain. I can also assure you, I suffer from no emotional repercussions and don’t feel like my rights were violated. So, that’s how the first story ends.

Moving on to Azmu’s story. I wanted to make the piercing quite memorable so chose to have it done while my mum came to visit us from England, during the Christmas holidays. Azmu was about 5 months old then. We made an appointment with a credited paediatrician, in a well reputed hospital and purchased medical studs from the same facility. The doctor applied a topical anaesthesia that was to be left for half an hour. He then drew a dot on each of Azmu’s earlobes where she would be pierced. With the single-use sterile tool, the ears were pierced and the studs were on Azmu’s ear lobes, in a matter of seconds. Yes, she cried, but it was more from the shock than any pain. After 10 minutes, she was all smiles and we were taking photographs to capture this moment. Alhamdulillah, to this day she has had so infection or inflammation due to the piercing.

So, you see, there is no ‘cruelty’, ‘severe pain’ or ‘physical harm’ being inflicted here.

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Team Pro- baby piercing

The AAP, American Academy of Paediatrics, recommends to wait until the child is old enough to clean and disinfect her own ears. However, personally, I think a mother to a young baby is a better bet to look after newly pierced ears and avoid any infection. Also, it is more likely to be less traumatic for a baby than a school-aged girl. I mean, can you imagine, I needed my mum’s support for getting Azmu’s ears pierced, so leaving such a decision to a 10 year old girl can be terrifying.

What are the other benefits of ear piercing at a young age? Well, the most obvious being that the little sparkly stud identifies your baby’s gender to strangers. We don’t always want to dress our infants in pink.

Tips for Parents

If and when you decide to have your daughter’s ears pierced, please keep the following in mind:

  1. There may some swelling, redness or inflammation around the stud. This is perfectly normal and will reduce over time as the body heals.
  2. Gently rotate the studs and clean the front and back of the ear lobes with sterile alcohol or an antibiotic ointment, atleast twice a day. This should reduce the risk of infection.
  3. For atleast the next six weeks, do not remove the studs. This should give enough time for the body to heal.
  4. Choose the right type of earrings. Don’t go for dangly or loop earrings in order to avoid any risk of tearing. Also eliminate any choking hazard by avoiding loose fitted earrings.

Your choice

At the end of the day, it is your choice as a parent whether and when you would like your little girl’s ears pierced. There is no right or wrong answer to this ongoing debate. What is your stand on this debate?

 

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