Ear Piercing Screams

“Is she sleeping through the night yet?”

“Have you started her on solids?”

“Has she started crawling?”

“Are her ears pierced?”*

(*Indian women across the world know what I’m talking about.)

These are the questions I’ve been bombarded with… all before her 8th MONTH birthday. It’s started to make me rethink those parents who put so much pressure on their kids to accomplish this or that. It seems to be society putting the pressure on the parents… and little by little–one question at a time–breaking them.

Perhaps the questions may just be well-meaning, but the majority of the time, they’re followed by how their own children accomplished the fill-in-the-blank feat by that age.

Let’s just say that after briefly succumbing to the pressure and living with that anxious pit-in-the-stomach-am-I-doing-everything-wrong-give-me-a-bowl-of-ice-cream-feeling, Google and I have become the best of friends. Parenting, of course, isn’t an exact science, but it does feel good to know that the course of action I take with my daughter has the backing of studies, experts, or just a boatload of parents.

So, should she be sleeping through the night? The National Sleep Foundation says 70% of babies sleep through the night by nine months of age. Ask me again in a few months.

Should she be eating solids? I started her on fruits and veggies at six months of age, and not at 4 or 5 as many, many, many people suggested because of her colic. I stayed strong and followed the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization. KellyMom offers more research and cites sources here: Why Delay Solids?

Should she be crawling? This question’s a bit harder. Some say it is an important developmental milestone that affects concentration, memory, and comprehension, while others say it’s not necessary. Given this debate, I’d have to say that either I haven’t given her enough tummy time, or she is just one who won’t crawl. If she turns out to be clumsy later in life (apparently, a possible consequence of skipping crawling), she can join the band of psychiatrists and blame mom.

And now, to get to the title question, should her ears be pierced? It’s a part of Indian culture, but when I looked up why it’s done, I could find little more than the following superstitious sentiment from HealthGuidance.org:

It’s a magical means of affording protection against misfortune.

I wasn’t ready to pierce my baby girl’s ears so early for good luck. I was planning on waiting till she was one year old.

Then, my mom told me that the reason she got mine done around 6 months was to prevent infection. The younger the baby, the less likely that she’ll touch her ears with all the bacteria that accompanies their little fingers.

Now, I was curious. What have others’ experiences been? Surely, many a non-Indian pierced their daughters’ ears at an older age… successfully.

And that’s when I found myself in the middle of an ugly debate. There were as many for ear piercing young children as there were against it. Here’s just one post that stirred the pot.

Some reasons for getting your young baby’s ears pierced and heading to the nearest mall:

  • they’re easily distracted and forget the pain quickly
  • they won’t touch their ears as much so the chance of infection is less
  • they’re not permanent and can be allowed to close up if your rebel daughter so chooses later on
  • they’ll sit still long enough for you to sanitize the piercing and turn the earrings until they’re healed
  • they’re often mistaken for a he, instead of a she (as mine is, but I find this too petty a reason)
  • cultural reasons (not buying it for Indian culture)

Some reasons to wait until your kid’s older:

  • it’s their right to choose when to pierce a part of their body… versus a mother’s vanity
  • it’s child abuse… unnecessarily inflicting pain

For me, the pros outweighed the cons… especially in terms of proper healing. I probably could have waited till she was 1, but after reading all the benefits, I thought the earlier the better.

However, based on some of the horror stories, I don’t think I would have waited until 2, 3, 4 years of age… where many children pulled on their earrings and the hole expanded or bled.

So, we found ourselves at the Piercing Pagoda last Wednesday.  I held her in my arms,  we heard a couple of shots, followed by ear-piercing screams, and 30 seconds later, all was well with the world again. She hasn’t touched her earrings since, and she lets me clean them morning and night.

On a side note, it took my husband and I some getting used to. We started doubting our choice of earrings. Were they too big? There was something that was bugging us about the earrings. Then, my husband said she looked like those teenage boys who want to look cool. But that wasn’t it. And then I said, I know – She looks like one of the Golden Girls. Short hair, big earrings.

But our initial shock wore off, and we’ve come to LOVE them. It’s hard to imagine her without her lovely earrings.



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