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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Should we pierce Lila's ears?

We probably will, but I am still a little undecided. I just know that it has to be done either now, as soon as possible and before she can notice too much and try to take the earrings off, or much much later, when she is old enough to decide for herself and care for her own ears.

 Rationally I think it should be her choice. I am not even sure if I should have the right to decide this for her, given that it is in the end a non-medically-required mutilation of her body. It is however a minor procedure, not painful enough to justify sedation and completely accepted by society (everywhere that I know of). Even if she decides later on that she doesn't want to wear earrings, ever, having a tiny hole in her ears would not be a big deal and people would hardly notice - as opposed to, say, other kinds of body piercings that might be mainstream or not depending on where you live.

I know that some parents decide in favor of piercing their daughters ears because they don't want them to be mistaken for boys, especially if they don't want to let their hair grow long. We really don't care about that and we think she is supercute as she is, even when she is wearing her brothers old clothes and people can't tell she is a she. (Very amusing how clothing can confuse people. When Rajiv was a baby, back in Canada, he sometimes used a pink pacifier with a flower shaped clip and even if the rest of his attire was very boyish people still would mistake him for a girl, because of the pink "accessories"..) I actually think that jewellery sometimes can look a little weird on a baby girl, but that is just me.

On the other hand, I really like earrings in general, they are the only kind of ornament that I have always consistently liked. Unfortunately I have very sensitive ears and I can't keep any metal in contact with my skin for too long, not even gold. I would have liked to be able to wear cheap fun earrings, but I had to always alternate a few pairs of gold ones and sometimes just go without for a long time. I recently found out that niobium might work better for me and I might try that, but let's go back to the main point, which is that I think earrings can be a lot of fun.

Here in India it is more common than in Italy for little girls - and boys too, to some extent - to wear gold. Lila already owns two pairs of earrings, one especially meant to be her first pair! She has bangles and a chain with a pendant. I can't see her wearing these things much beyond a few special occasions and some photos, except the earrings, so I guess, why not? Other than for all the reason given two paragraphs above, which is why this is a nice endless loop.

We worry about the pain too, but it would probably be a worse experience for us than for her. If she was my first baby I would probably not be able to bear it, but now that I have been through a few real scares - like Rajiv's head completely covered with blood after an accident at school a few month ago, I have readjusted my perspective and I can probably face this with medium to low risk of being traumatized by it.

We have asked the pediatrician for advice, but as usual we find that India has an unmanageable diversity of traditions. We were told by some that the piercing has to be done on the twenty-eighth day. Others said after two or three months (after the anti-tetanus shot, which makes a lot of sense). Lila's pediatrician says that by tradition the ears should be pierced when the girl turns one and so she refused to be of any assistance on the matter.

In conclusion: If we find an opportunity to have it done safely at a trusted location withing the next month we will probably go for it, otherwise we will let our lack of persistence decide for us.

In the meantime, any opinions? They would be genuinely welcome - even though I am well known for generally not following the advice I get :)


  1. Eleonora,

    Admittedly, I know a lot of people have strong feelings when to pierce a child's ear. "Let them decide" is being replaced by parental decision when mommy intuition knows, "earlier is better" from either personal or friend's experiences of unpleasant childhood ear piercing. I think cultural and tradition
    play an important part in making the decision to have it done as an infant.

    According to our ped doing it when mommy cares for them is the best age from days old to a year old when they become aware of their surroundings.

    I pierced our oldest daughter's ears when she was two months old and our youngest at just days old. We found an experienced individual where they specialized in infant piercings. Our ped recommended doing it when mommy could care for them.

    Cerebrally, as mothers of girls of all ages, we know it celebrates their femaleness and femininity. After all, they are little girls, right? Growing up I remember many of my little girlfriends were not allowed to
    get their ears pierced. I could never understand it...but when their parents did finally let them, it always seemed they'd get infected because they were constantly touching them or trying to change out the earrings before they were supposed to. Many said it was painful, but all cried having a great deal of
    angst leading up to and including the actual ear piercing.

    Just when is the best time to pierce your daughter's ears? It is when you are ready to care for them during the healing phase. Our ped gave me some tips for moms having their dd's ears pierced which included some OTC meds to minimize any discomfort.

    If you or any other moms would like our ped's tips, then don't hesitate to write me an e-mail.


  2. Thank you for your input, Angie. The latest advice we have received from a doctor here is to wait until our little girl is six months old so that the hole can be properly centered on the earlobe. They guarantee it will not hurt because an anesthetic cream can be applied before the piercing. So it seems we will have to reconsider this in a few months..