Katie McCarthy: Gisele sparks ear piercing-baby debate, I weigh in

August 1, 2013 

I never thought too much about whether or not to pierce my daughter's ears.

My husband brought it up once and I was taken by surprise -- I just assumed we wouldn't and I suddenly started worrying that he might want to.

I don't have anything against the practice for other people's children, I just see it as a form of body modification that my daughter can absolutely wait for until she's older. There's enough to worry about when bringing a newborn home from the hospital, I didn't want to add any potential risk of infection.

I have one friend who had her infant daughter's ears pierced because she was tired of people thinking she was a boy.

I understand, but I've never been offended by the confusion. It is funny, though, how many people assume a baby is male if she isn't dressed in pink or purple or topped off with a huge bow or flower.

Put her in a red St. Louis Cardinals shirt sans headband and people don't know what to think.

The recent uproar over super model Gisele Bundchen posting a photo of her 8-month-old sporting tiny studs got me thinking about why I feel so adamantly against piercing my daughter's ears.

In terms of baby body modification, there's a lot hotter debate surrounding circumcision. And the ear lobe is a much less sensitive area to go poking around with sharp objects.

I think as a first-time parent, I just focus on minimizing risks.

All I could imagine was my baby ripping the earring out through the lobe in the middle of the night -- I think most moms agree that seeing their child in a pool of blood is a terrifying thought.

Am I being dramatic? Yes. The ear probably doesn't even bleed enough to form a pool. But that doesn't quell the fear.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that ear-piercing is safe at any age, but they recommend to wait until the child is old enough to care for the site themselves. And that's about where my beliefs lie as well.

I first got my own ears pierced when I was about 5 years old. They got infected and I ended up taking them out and letting the holes heal.

I got repierced when I was in third grade and those holes remain to this day -- though I rarely wear earrings. I imagine I'll follow a similar timeline for my little one, depending on how much interest she shows.

The most enlightening piece of information I found is that pediatricians are the ones who pierce baby ears -- new moms aren't hauling their newborns off to the mall and squeezing their tiny little lobes into a piercing gun. Doctors use sterilized needles to perform the task, which is a relief.

It's also worth noting that Gisele is from Brazil, and piercing newborn girls' ears is commonplace among Latin and Spanish cultures. One website noted that it's so common, women often receive small studs as baby shower gifts.

Katie McCarthy, kmccarthy@ledger-enquirer.com or 706-571-8515.

Ledger-Enquirer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service