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Ponder These Points Before Baby’s First Piercings

How soon is too soon for baby’s first bling – or, more specifically, when is baby ready for her first piercings?

While it’s common in some cultures around the world to pierce an infant’s ears not too long after birth, most pediatricians suggest waiting until your child is at least three months old, when your infant’s immune system is built up a bit more (in case the piercing results in an infection and fever) and when the skin is a little less fragile.Waiting for baby’s first tetanus shot before getting baby’s first piercings is not a bad idea, either!

Still, not every individual and situation are the same. Talking to your family’s pediatrician prior to piercing a child’s ear or other body parts is highly recommended.

If you decide to get your infant or toddler pierced, make sure it’s being done in a place where sterile equipment, and that the person doing the piercing wears a new pair of disposable gloves when doing the piercing. Ask about what sterilization practices are being used.

As a best practice, the equipment should either be treated with a heat sterilization machine or cleaned thoroughly with a disinfectant solution. That’s according to Dr. Kimberly Schneider, a pediatrician at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health. Her thoughts on the topic are included in Rachel RabkinPeachman’s blog titled, “Ear Piercing For Kids: Safety Tips From a Pediatrician,” posted on Indiana University Health’s website.

Dr. Schneider said there are some pediatrician offices which do piercings.

If you choose to get the piercing done someplace else, like a store, check out the business with the Better Business Bureau. Look for complaints, and if/how they were resolved. Hey … you’d look for reviews on a new restaurant before you go, right? Why not check out the place where someone you may not know will purposely put a small hole or two in your baby’s body?

Keep in mind that there may be some variation from state to state on licensing, laws, rules, and regulations about body piercing and people who do the piercings.

Metal matters. Reduce the chance for allergic reactions ahead of time. The younger your child is at the time of piercings, the less likely you are to know whether she is allergic to certain metals. Pick jewelry made of hypoallergenic metals such as sterling silver or gold – at least 14-karat. Lesser karat gold tends to also have other metals in the composition.

Another metal to watch out for is nickel, which often triggers allergic reactions in many people. Ask the piercer if the equipment or tools are made of nickel. Seek advice from informed individuals and sources before making the final choice regarding metal jewelry.

When it comes to baby’s first earrings, consider getting screw back earrings – which are secured into place better, and are more difficult for a baby to remove. One of the largest selections of screw back earrings and other jewelry for children can be found at In Season Jewelry.

Ahead of time, ask the piercing professional about whether it would be possible to numb the area being pierced, and whether it is safe to do so. Get a full explanation of what substance would be used as the numbing agent and whether there are any side effects after or any precautions to be taken beforehand. Do some independent research on the numbing agent. Run the name of the numbing agent by your pediatrician, or your local pharmacist.

Beforehand, ask what you can expect ahead of time and how you should care for your baby in the days and weeks after the piercing. The newly pierced area is likely be swollen, red and extra-sensitive afterwards. But if the piercer doesn’t mention this ahead of time, RUN!  Either that person doesn’t know what he or she is doing, doesn’t know how to communicate, or doesn’t care. On that multiple choice, pick “none of the above,” and get yourself and your baby out of there!

The piercing professional should advise you to contact a doctor immediately for any pain, redness, puss, or swelling that lasts longer than 24 hours after the piercing.

Earrings should be worn in the new piercings – constantly, no changing out earrings at all – for at least six weeks. But keep up on regular cleanings to reduce the chance of infection.

Here are some great tips for cleaning and caring for your child’s newly pierced areas:

  • Avoid touching the new piercings – you, your baby, and anyone who comes near your baby -- except when you’re cleaning the piercings. Good luck trying to keep your baby’s little curious fingers away from the area!
  • Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and warm water before touching the pierced areas or the jewelry placed in the newly pierced areas.
  • Using a cotton swab with a bit of rubbing alcohol, clean the entire area around the piercings (front and back) two to three times a day. Each time, make sure the earring backing is secure. Gently rotate the earring.
  • Avoid pulling or pushing on your piercings or jewelry in the piercings, when brushing your baby’s hair.
  • Keep your child away from swimming in pools, hot tubs, lakes, and oceans while the piercings are healing. Exposure to these things could raise the risk of infection.
  • But the most important tip is to consult your pediatrician or piercing professional about post-piercing care.

Once you get through this very important stage, your next concern will be keeping her out of your jewelry box!

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