Should Baby Ear Piercing Be Illegal or Is it Parent’s Choice?

Is baby ear piercing cruel & something that should be illegal or should it be up to the parents? Read both sides of the debate & tell us what you think.

In case you haven’t heard, there is a petition going around in the UK to ban baby ear piercing. It’s a pretty hot topic of debate right now in England, on parenting forums and even on the OurFamilyWorld Facebook page! We shared the news about the petition and got some lively responses, prompting us to really delve into the question: should baby ear piercing be illegal?

Where do you stand on this? A petition with over 25,000 signatures in the UK is calling for ear-piercing of babies and toddlers to be banned.

Posted by Our Family World on Thursday, June 11, 2015

If you’re a regular reader, you know I make it my mission to give you both sides of the argument in debates like this. I have an opinion, I’m actually on a specific side here. But I like to play devil’s advocate even against myself. Guess it comes from growing up with a lawyer-to-be brother. That kid must have known he was destined to argue in a court room one day! I quickly learned that if I ever wanted to win an argument, I had to completely understand both sides! So don’t get mad when I argue against the side you’re on, okay?

Related: Parenting Advice: Would You Let Your Teen Get Her Nose Pierced

Baby ear piercing: a parent’s choice that should not be governed by law

The majority of our Facebook friends feel that baby ear piercing is a parent’s choice. While some say it’s not exactly a great thing to do, they don’t believe it falls under “child cruelty” or should be made illegal. So let’s look at that side first. Why shouldn’t baby ear piercing be illegal?

  • It’s a cultural thing: For many people, baby ear piercing is a cultural thing. Numerous Indian families get their baby’s ears pierced, for example. I don’t feel that we should interfere with other’s cultural rights unless those rights directly interfere with the rights of others. Example: if it was part of your culture to kill a woman on the first full moon of the year, your culture would be interfering with another woman’s innate right to continue living.
  • It’s no more painful than vaccines. Getting your ears pierced hurts, sure, but not any more than a tetanus shot. For me, my last tetanus shot actually hurt A LOT more! But I had a weird reaction to it. If you go to a really good piercing studio, it may actually hurt LESS than a vaccine. They have skin numbing agents to take the sting out, whereas my nurse told me to be a big girl and suck it up when I got my last shots. Okay, I was like 32 the last time, but STILL!
  • It’s a parent’s choice. Bottom line, deciding to get your baby’s ears pierced is as much a parent’s choice as circumcision, vaccination and many other things that repeatedly run their course in debate forums. As long as parents are not physically, emotionally or sexually abusing their child and as long as their overall needs are being met, parents should be free to decide what is best for their own child. I disagree with a myriad of parenting choices, but I would never think that my way is the only right way and should become the law.

Baby ear piercing is dangerous and should be illegal

On the flip side, we have the petitioners in the UK and parents around the world who feel it is dangerous or abusive in some way and should be illegal. Let’s look at that perspective for a moment, because fair is fair.

  • It is painful. Yes, we discussed that the pain is akin to vaccines, but really, it’s a pain that parents choose to inflict on their babies for the sake of looking cute, not to save their lives or prevent a disease. Why would anyone want to do that to their baby? It’s also a frightening experience to a little one who doesn’t know what is happening.
  • It can cause infection. If you don’t take care of the piercing correctly, it can lead to horrible infections. Whenever you put a new hole in your body, you run the risk of infection. Add a foreign object to that hole and the risk increases. Even if you take super good care of it, babies get their hands dirty. They touch their faces, their heads, and their little ears.
  • It’s mutilation without consent. While I would think that tattoos or piercings in places that don’t heal at all when removed would be more in line with this argument, piercing your baby’s ears IS a form of body alteration without consent. My holes closed a long time ago, but you can still see where they are.

So there you go, three pros, three cons. Both sides with equal and fair play time (I hope). Honestly, it’s easy to see how each side feels. I can understand the motivation behind the “make it illegal” side. Really, I can. BUT, is it enough to take away another parent’s right to choose for their own child? Each argument on both sides can have literally dozens of side arguments and rebuttals.

Related: Stop Mom-on-Mom Bullying!

In the end, you have to decide. Decide what is right for your baby and decide which side you’re on. Of course, we’d LOVE if you shared your thoughts with us! Feel free to tell me if I missed an important point in your side of the debate, too! Obviously, I couldn’t include every single last argument because we’d all be here for months. J Still, I try to write balanced and fair.

Talk to us! Debate (respectfully) with us! What do you think: should baby ear piercing be illegal?


26 thoughts on “Should Baby Ear Piercing Be Illegal or Is it Parent’s Choice?”

  1. My mother let me make the choice, but I don’t see the big deal about getting them pierced as a baby. That’s just my opinion.

  2. Personally I think it should be a choice that is left up to the child to make when they are old enough to understand what it is about.

  3. I don’t think it should be illegal but I don’t think it should be done at a stand in the mall by a teenager working part time after school. Someone professional needs to be doing it.

  4. I don’t think it should be illegal, but under a certain age I think it should perhaps be done in a clinical setting. I had mine pierced when I was around 9 or 10 after driving my poor mom and dad nuts for months. I had it done in a doctor’s office and there were no issues.

  5. Amanda Alvarado

    I don’t think it should be illegal but there should be some guidelines put in place such as not just any tom, dick or harry that works in the mall can pierce a baby’s ears! I know when I had mine pierced at 6 yo, my mom took me to the Dr’s office to get it done because it couldn’t be done in a store at that time. Dd had her’s done at Walmart when she was 4 and made the choice herself. My dd is one of the rare ones who did not have her ears pierced at birth. Around here girls usually have their ears pierced by 6 weeks old!

  6. I definitely think this is a parent’s decision however, I’ve made the choice not to pierce my daughter’s ears/ I want her to have a say in it and be part of the experience when she is ready!

  7. I think it should be left up to the parent. I mean, they are the legal guardian of the child and know what is best for them. Perhaps stricter guidelines for places to pierce would be better instead of allowing it in any old jewelry or trendy shop. I had mine done when I was fairly young and it was a lot of fun being able to decide on jewelry. As most know, having your ears pierced isn’t pain free, however the pain is minimal and only lasts for a second. I think its scarier more than it hurts. Of course if parents dont take care of the piercings or if their is an allergic reaction its up the the adult to handle it.

  8. Bonnie @ wemake7

    I have seen so much about this lately. My girls didn’t get theirs done until they got older and asked for them.

  9. My daughter had one ear pierced for a long time. She got one and ran off before they could do the other. ;)

  10. I had my ears pierced when I was quite young, and I remember LOVING picking out my earrings in elementary school. I think it’s okay if it’s done by a professional.

  11. Bree @ HalfPennyBlog

    Honestly, it’s not a dangerous thing to do so I don’t think it should be considered cruelty. While there is some pain associated with it, one could argue it is better to do it while the child is young so they can’t remember the pain.

    I think this should be a parent’s decision. I think anything past the ears should be something that shouldn’t be allowed until the child is older, since more than ears can be considered culturally unacceptable, but the government doesn’t need to be butting it’s nose into anything more than it already does.

  12. Ear piercing for babies or infants that’s would be a parents choice.. I think there is no problem to deal this If it is doing by a professional.. I think for the best for baby piercing if he/she carry the pain..

  13. Not gunna lie, I wanted my daughters ears pierced but my hubby is so against it! So she domestic have pierced ears lol. Honestly though I think it should be up to the parents. The government doesn’t need to get involved in even more stuff! I can see it now, parents getting arrested for such things -_- unnecessary

  14. To each it’s own. I have no problem with people who do it. It should be up to the parents not the government to tell them what they should be doing.. Just my thought..

  15. I see no problem with piercing little ones ears as long as its not done with a piercing gun as they do in Claires etc. If its done with a needle by a professional piercer its much less traumatic to the babe and the ear!

  16. I was a hairdresser for years in a shop that offered ear piercing. After a few years we were informed by a childrens aid worker that although it is not illegal to do piercing on a little one if they cry it is concidered child abuse. We changed our shop policy to no one under the age of ten for ear piercing.

  17. This seems to be such a hot topic of late and don’t know if it because more and more celebrities are having their children’s ears pierced! I think this is a personal choice to do! I had my ears pierced when I was little, but now have had the holes closed up because most people don’t realize later on in life how many health issues can arise!

  18. This is an interesting issue you are discussing… In the society where I am coming from, in fact, ears would be normally pierced in early childhood. Most of my friends had their ears pierced early on. I was the odd one, and I kept bugging my parents to get those ears pierced. Talk about peer pressure. Now my kids bug me as well. One has her ears pierced – we did it when she was 6. The other one had an infection, and we had to take those earrings out, and the ears grew over for her, so we might revisit the issue with her later. Now with my 3rd baby, I don’t think I want to get the ears pierced for now. I am not sure if this is child cruelty, certainly a torture for a baby who doesn’t understand. I’ve never looked at this ritual that way, but I guess it is a torture, and that is why I didn’t do that to my kids at such an early age…

  19. I don’t really feel like it should be “illegal” but I feel like it isn’t something parents should decide. I feel like maybe parents should consider that, while it may look cute, it should be left to the child to decide when it’s older. They’ll have that mark on there skin forever.

  20. I don’t think this is something that warrants legal action. As anyone who has had their ears pierced knows, the pain is over relatively quickly. It seems silly to me when you consider that there are no laws governing circumcision. Talk about painful!

    1. I think that’s a great point about circumcision, Myrah – and I agree – not all cultures do this with their baby boys. I am not saying it’s wrong, just the comparison is relevant! As long as the pierced ear areas are kept clean and when infection happens, it is understood what to do, I don’t see that it would warrant more legalease going on.

  21. Although I had mine done young….I couldn’t do it to my girl’s ears. The way I see it, when/if she wants it herself, she can make that decision and I will follow her lead.

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