Growing up in the Italian culture, it is quite common to see little girls, even babies, with pierced ears. I have never known ear piercing to be controversial until I became a mother myself. I now understand and respect the reasons why many parents choose to wait until their child is much older, but from my perspective, my mom had my ears pierced at the local Caldor when I was three-years-old. So, after careful consideration, not to mention endless begging from my daughter, the time seemed right for us to pursue this next milestone in my daughter’s life. If any moms out there are facing the same unrelenting begging from your child, you think this decision is right for you and need a little guidance (like I did), I want to share our relatively painless experience.
First, the big question I faced was where would we get this procedure done since our pediatrician does not do ear piercings. I chose a local, retail outlet that a friend had gone to and had a good experience. I called the ear piercing facility before we went and asked a bunch of questions like: Do you do piercings for toddlers aged three? What happens at the piercing? Do you wear gloves? How many piercings have you done? What is your fee?
When I received satisfactory answers I got my very excited daughter ready to go. I made sure her hair was pulled back so that her cute mop of wavy hair would not hinder the very delicate process along the way. I also made sure to explain exactly what was going to happen and the steps we would have to take after the piercing. I warned her that she might feel some pain; that we would have to clean them twice a day for a while; and that she could not take her earrings out until Thanksgiving. I also brought up the dreaded “I” word and explained that if she did not follow my directions she could get a very painful infection. Despite my forewarning, my girl still agreed to go through with the procedure and could not contain her delight.
Once we arrived I again went over the process with the employees. I felt relieved when the manager was there and said she has done many, many ear piercings over the course of twenty years. She explained there would be one woman on each side so as to minimize the time and impact of the procedure. There was no cost for the piercing, but we were obligated to purchase the starter earrings to be used and they gave us a “free” bottle of cleaning solution. We were only given the option to choose 14 karat gold earrings since those are least likely to cause irritation. I am allergic to anything other than 14 karat gold so that was fine with me. I let my daughter choose which earrings she wanted and sighed with relief when she bypassed some of the flashier earrings and selected a demure pair of studs with a pink stone.
After we paid and I signed the authorization form, we sat my daughter down in the chair. One of the women carefully marked where the holes would go ahead of time as my daughter sat unusually still. They told me to count to three and then, done! No tears were shed, thankfully. She remained calm the entire time.
The ladies gave us cleaning solution to be applied in the morning and in the evening and instructed that the earrings be rotated once a day to ensure the solution gets in there and to prevent the earrings from getting stuck. I used this solution exclusively for about a week and then used my own saline made with warm water and Epsom salt. I placed this solution in a medicine bottle with dropper which was way easier to apply than chasing my daughter around with a cotton ball full of solution. I no longer had to deal with pulling out stray cotton threads that got caught in the earrings. If you decide to make your own saline solution, be sure to use non-iodized salt, like Epsom or sea salt, as iodide can irritate the ear. I also learned not to use hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol as they can dry out the holes, impairing new skin cells from generating. You may see a little bit of redness, some fluid and scabbing in the beginning, but this is just the body’s way of healing.
Doing this cleaning twice daily has become our little ritual, although in full honesty, my daughter does not always cooperate easily. There have been some times I have had to hold her down (gently), but that’s mostly after bath time when she is fighting the whole going to bed ritual anyway. I have had to issue some warnings that the holes may turn into boo-boo’s and that we would have to take the earrings out. This seems to do the trick.
All in all it was a really fun and relatively stress-free experience. No infection to date (knock on wood) and my girl is loving her newly ear pierced self!