My six-year-old wants her ears pierced: where can we go?

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Morgan’s six-year-old wants her ears pierced, but Morgan doesn’t want a piercing gun to be the way it happens. What should they do?

San Francisco July 2008 Haight-Ashbury My daughter has asked to get her ears pierced for her sixth birthday next month. I’ve had nine piercings and I’ve always known I would not let a piercing gun touch my kids [ed note: here’s why some feel piercing guns are dangerous].

I’m interested in taking her to a piercing studio, but I wanted to ask — what options do we have? And is it hard to find a piercer who will take kids?

Comments on My six-year-old wants her ears pierced: where can we go?

    • I concur. I wasn’t allowed to get my ears pierced until I got my period (I know, right???) but I had lots of friends who got theirs done at the doctor’s office, sometime at the same time as a well-child appointment.

      • I would be careful with this, though. My sister had one of my niece’s ears pierced by the pediatrician, but he’d never done it before and they were crooked and too low on the ear lobe. Make sure you ask if your pediatrician has done it before and about how many s/he has done beforehand. My sister had much better luck at the mall, but they did use a gun there.

    • I’m not sure it’s a doctor’s role to pierce ears and not sure he has much experience. I would feel safer at a piercing/tatoo studio. They’re usually great and can accomodate kids no problem!

      • Piercing is, essentially, basic surgery. Pediatricians doing ear piercings is a pretty standard, widely accepted practice.

        That being said, I agree that going to a tattoo shop is perfectly reasonable.

    • I know this was back in the 60’s, but my mom’s mom made her go to the dr for her ear piercings (when she was 16) and she has always lamented that the doctor’s method was worse then any mall store she’d seen; I think he brought in an ice cube and then shoved a needle through the lobe, then the earring. She said it was AWFUL (and I think her mom felt bad about it afterward, too.) Her holes are off-center, too.

      She took us to a jewelry store she trusted when we wanted our ears pierced; they used a gun, and it really hurt my thick lobes. My youngest sister got second holes in her ears at a tattoo parlor that had rave reviews from friends. I was with her for the experience, and I thought, “That is totally how it should be done, every time.”

  1. What Joanna said. Or research your local piercing studios. When you go in, you should feel like you’re at a doctors office. Things should be very clean, very sterile, and the piercer should be willing to meet with you to discuss their experience, training, techniques, and what the experience will be like BEFORE you even schedule your appointment.

    You already said it, but I’ll second you – DO NOT USE PIERCING GUNS. They make ragged holes and bruise the soft tissue around the piercing site, which can make the piercing more likely to get infected or reject.

    Depending what area you’re in, I know a lot of piercers who will pierce kids under 18 (for certain piercings… ears are typically OK) with a parent/guardian present and all that mumbo jumbo.

  2. I definitely know there are professional piercers who will pierce a little kiddo’s ears, as long as the kiddo is old enough to say “I want my ears pierced!” My friends who pierce (pro) only refuse to do babies/toddlers, because they believe that piercing is a personal choice and not a parental one, even when it’s “just ears”. Staying away from a piercing gun is the smartest thing you can do!

  3. I took my 9 year old to my local tattoo/piercing shop. She had been there with me for my tattoo consultations and they were expecting me to bring her there when she was ready. As long as they are open to kids, and you feel right, that is the way to go.

  4. Since you have had piercings yourself, you likely understand the importance of sterility and the overall “vibe” of any shop you might walk into with your daughter. Do you have a piercer you go to yourself? I took my son to have his ears pierced by the same man that has pierced me and several people I know. If you have a person you see regularly, or a shop/studio that you know to be reputable, I would start there. Most shops have policies about piercing minors, but ears typically fall in the A-OK realm so long as the jewelry gauge is small. (I’m pretty sure my son started at 16 gauge, though now we’ve allowed him to stretch his ears slowly to 10 gauge over the last three years.)

    Bottom line, it’s your baby’s flesh you’re talking about. Call around, make visits to the shops that will pierce minors, and listen to your gut when making your decision.

  5. My friend and I have only ever gone to one shop for piercings, because they’re educated and clean as clean can be. Gloves are changed often, a sharpie to mark a spot is either thrown out or given to the customer, and it’s a small place. These people take their job very seriously and I love that.

    Just call ahead to ask if they will pierce children with parental consent and find out what you will need to bring, i.e. child’s birth certificate, your driver’s license, etc…
    If the shop is kind of far away, make a day of it. There’s nothing wrong with taking the time for get a safe piercing and hey, get lunch beforehand and ice cream after!

  6. My sob wanted his ear done and asked around the time he was 3. I got it done at the hairdressers in town (australia)…the stud accually pierces the ear and comes in a sterilised packet…i have 15 piercings and most were done by needle and hurt alot more…as I was getting a couple of piercings I asked the piercer (who does all piercings, with needles) only did a one day course about needle sterilisation…and learnt the rest by watching another piercer….my local piercer where I live now has done an anatomy course and over 5yrs experience….it might just pay to ask around..and for just getting the lobe pierced…the gun isn’t that bad

  7. 100% go to a body piercing/mod
    studio. Much better/safer/healthier than
    those piercing guns.
    Piercing guns tear and bruise, and are
    Much more apt to get infected.
    Just don’t do that.
    As per the doctor’s office,
    I had never heard of this custom and
    Don’t want to give the kids another
    Cause for white-coat anxiety. Also wouldn’t want to expose kids to the types of germs that survive there.

  8. The rule at our local piercing shop is that if the child can ask him/herself and the parent will sign the consent forms, they will do the piercings. That’s where I took our daughter, and it wasn’t a problem at all.

  9. When I was a kid, my lobes were pierced with a gun. But that was the early 90s, when I think lots of people (including my mom) didn’t know better. Luckily they turned out okay, but they did get infected a couple of times.

    My piercer will pierce lobes for kids as young as 10 (perhaps younger). I believe most piercers will pierce just the lobes of minors as long as they can give consent, and you give consent. 6 might be young for studios, but you never know. I think just calling around to the best shops would be in order. If not, talk to your doctor’s office.

  10. I am a professional piercer. By which I mean, licensed by the state health dept, and have years of training and experience. If you are going to get your child’s ears pierced, take them to a professional. There are s many reasons not to get pierced with a gun; even though it is the social “norm” the jewelry that they use is damaging, 99% of the time it is made of low quality metal which can actually cause metal allergies and reactions in people that were previously not metal sensitive. Also, since the gun can’t be sterilized, blood and tissue can get trapped inside the inner workings and transfer from person to person-potentially spreading any blood borne disease. It might be hard to find a professional shop that pierces kids, but call around, you will find someone. Then, like the other posters said, just go with your gut. The shop should be clean, the piercing room/ space should be immaculate, with packaged, sterilized needles and equipment. (A lot like the doctor)

  11. My husband owned a tattoo shop and the peircer that worked with him is a good friend of ours. She told me that if I wanted them done the younger they are the easier it is for everyone (it is a very controversal subject whether peircing a babies ears is ok, I realize that)because as a baby they get over it in a matter of minutes, its easier for the person doing it and it heals fast. So when our daughter was young I decided to get her ears done. It was fast and really nothing to major. If your child is mature enought to understand what is going on, that she needs to sit still and it will hurt but not for long then I say go for it. Ask around to see what shops are comfortable working with kids, a more experianced peircer will be quicker as well which would be helpful. Also another idea which my friend told me lots of kids do is go in and get one done go home let it heal come back and get the second, by the second one they know what to expect and its not as scary…

    Anyways hopefully that helps you out a little and good luck! Let us know what you decided and how it went 🙂

  12. My sister in law took my 6 year old niece to a local piercing shop. Her pediatrician also told her that it was the best place to do it because they are professional, clean and licensed. Again, you have to do your research on the individual shops in your area, but professional piercers seem to be the best and safest place to go.

  13. Ok I might sound like a prejudiced jerk, but I would look for a piercing studio with a piercer who is either an older guy or a woman, and I would go in by myself and have a conversation with the piercer to figure out what their vibe is. Some tattoo artists/piercers can be jerks, but some are really nice, and I would (probably will, when my daughter is older) go to several shops to find the right one unless I have an ongoing relationship with a shop already…at the place I went for most of my piercings, for example, there was a piercer who had been doing it for 30 years, an older guy. He was the sweetest guy, and I swear I didn’t even feel it when he pierced my septum. I would not hesitate to have him pierce my daughter’s ears when she wants it done. I have a bunch of tattoos and piercings, and in my experience some people working in tattoo/piercing shops enjoy the inflicting pain aspect of their job more than is comfortable for me. I have no issue with this sort of thing when the power exchange is consensual, but I wouldn’t want a piercer with that vibe piercing my daughter’s ears. I would want someone who came at it from the perspective of creating art and providing a service to their customers. (PS I was 5 when I got my ears pierced, with a gun).

    • i took my daughter to a tattoo/piecing place in seattle after a lot of research, phone calls, meeting and checking out who would be willing to do it. she had a blast! the guy played some silly music and she spent the time giggling at his jokes. it was an awesome experience that she has never forgotten. she’ll tell anyone who asks all about it, she’s ten now and still has her hoops.

    • I am so happy to read this. Rather, I’m so happy to read that someone else has had an experience where their tattoo/piercing person actually enjoys inflicting pain on someone! I had a full back piece done (what was supposed to be about 10 hours total turned into 6 on “outlining” day and 8 on “hell day”) and the second day the guy that had been nice and professional with me and my boyfriend turned into jerksadist using the smallest possible needle to do even large fill pieces and being generally weird. That being said, the place was immaculate and I felt comfortable (before the man-who-hates-women thing set in), so that’s what I think the OP should go for. Comfortable and clean! I think it would also be good to let your daughter know that if she gets there and changes her mind it’s okay and you guys can talk about it/leave if she really wants to. Sometimes big decisions get too big!

  14. Thank you for posting this question. My partner and I keep going back and forth on this issue. He wants to pierce our 6 months old daughter’s ears and I want to wait until she can tell us that she wants it done, if that ever happens.

    In any case, I’m so happy to know that some professional piercing shops will take kids, I was curious and planned on calling around to see if that was even an option.

    • My husband is a professional body piercer, and he and the other piercer at the shop in our town, will pierce little ones ears as long as they are at least 6mo old, if that is what you really want, but they will also tell you all the cons about getting a baby’s ears pierced that early (including that when they grow, they probably wont be straight holes anymore, and things like that). He and I are both covered in piercings but are waiting until our daughter can ask for them. Most piercing places will do kids ears, so long as parent/guardian is with them, and the kids are willing to get them done with no fighting. make sure you talk to the piercer directly, and get him to answer any questions or concerns you have. if there are many shops around you can go to, make sure you ask them about their sterilizing process, the equipment they use (any shop that isnt totally clean will be reluctant to tell you anything about their sterilizing or sanitation processes) also, be sure to ask about what kind of first aid response they use or are certified in, if, in the VERY unlikely circumstance something goes funky…just so you are comfortable…a lot of the time, piercers and tattooist are big, intimidating guys (not all the time tho!) and it could be hard to feel comfortable. but if you would get your piercings done there after your questions are answered, it should be a good place for your kids to get pierced too.

      • Ha! This would have thrown my first ever boos out of the running. He was 6’9″ with a deep voice and a scraggly beard. He honestly looked like a troll from under the bridge. Then again, he flat-out refused to do babies. Not only could they not say yes, but he told me he felt terrible getting his big mits around a tiny baby and making them cry.

  15. I wouldn’t go with a pediatrician for piercing. Just because they have a medical degree doesn’t make them magical – their piercing guns are still guns, they can’t be truly sterilized, they crush tissue instead of cutting a clean hole leading to worse healing. I have never heard of a pediatrician using freehand needles, and honestly I wouldn’t feel comfortable with that either – piercers apprentice for at least a year in just piercing, doctors are just not going to come close in terms of experience and expertise.

  16. Maybe it is because I live in the bay area but there is a nurse in our town who does this for families. I think it is a great idea!

  17. My six year old daughter’s ears were pierced last year at our local piercing shop. I HIGHLY recommend it. Not only are they incredibly experienced (I mean, all they do all day long is pierce people) but they used numbing cream and had two piercers work together to have both ears done at once – I’m in Ontario Canada, so I don’t know what the rules are elsewhere, but here they had no age limit with parental consent.

  18. My mother took me to a dermatologist in order to by-pass the piercing gun and it was the most HORRIFYING experience. Instead of a quick thing it was needles upon needles and it left me ill and (to this day) squidged out about my ear holes, which I’ve since let close up. So my recommendation — wherever you do it… MAKE IT QUICK! For the love of gawd make it quick! 😉

    • Oh my god Megan that’s terrible!! I’m also traumatized by dermatologists. I literally got butchered during wart and mole removals as a kid and have huge scars now (sorry for the TMI). Anyway, I know from experience that needle ear piercing in a studio lasts less than a second. I have more trust in them than the medical system, which is sad, I know…

  19. As a person who has gun AND needle piercings, I’d go for a needle. The gun makes such a loud noise, and it really bothered me (plus there was way more bruising afterwards). That being said, I know my local piercer actually has pictures of very small children getting their ears pierced in their books, and a lot of places will carry sterile studs if you don’t think she can rock/take care of a ring. Of course, I also know plenty of piercers that won’t touch anyone under 16, so the best bet would be to call around first.

  20. My ears were done at age 5 with a piercing gun. I blame it for my fear of needles, hating loud sounds (that gun sounds terrifying) and strong dislike of anyone touching my face. Family included.

    It hurt very much, they did not numb it at all and they were very much “get it done and get the crying kid out” focused, rather than “Get it done properly, if they cry, we know it hurts. That’s ok.” I’ve seen in pros who have done friends piercings and tattoos.

    If there is any way to have a painless piercing while being professional and sanitary, do it. I would highly recommend looking up local shops and talking to anyone you know with piercings or tattoos, as they can give good insight to good shops.

    After the piercing, try to stick with high quality earrings and avoid bargain bin items like those five dollar studs and necklace combos, as people can be sensitive to them.

  21. I got a 3rd stud in my lobe when my son got his ear done with the gun so he knew wat to expect and what was happening…he got a shock at first but 2 minutes later he was showing everyone…with my personal expereance the needle hurts more amd for longer

  22. My mom is licensed and trained to pierce, she did my first holes when I was seven. I had absolutely no trouble whatsoever with the gun. She has a gun that uses a new needle each time, wears gloves, the earrings are individually packaged, and they are made of surgical steel. As a matter of fact, she hates using the needles. She’s done it that way before, but her customers say it hurts more with a needle. My mom’s pediatrician did her ears with the needle when she was little, and she still talks about how painful it was.

  23. I had my done when I was 5 – I wanted it done. My niece too. My brother in law was a little against it but my sister said she was happy to allow it as long as miss 5 accepted that it might hurt.

    Let your kid do it 🙂

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