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What You Should Know Before You Get Your Child's Ears Pierced

Piercing your child's ears is a very personal decision, but one that many people have very strong feelings about. Recently both Khloé Kardashian and little sister Kylie Jenner posted pictures of their infant daughters, True and Stormi, both sporting newly pierced ears. Both sisters received a lot of criticism online from those who felt that piercing an infant's ears is just wrong, but it also shows that piercing a toddler or infant's ears is still a popular choice for many parents.

If you are looking in to piercing your infant or toddler's ears, there are definitely some things you should know before you go to ensure a successful piercing.

What Is The Best Age?

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Piercing your child's ears is a very personal decision, and many health care professionals suggest waiting until your the child is at least 6 months old before having it done. The reason for this is because the child will have their six month immunizations at that point, reducing the risk of infection. "Any time you puncture the skin, you open up the opportunity for infection, and because infants still have developing immune systems, I encourage parents to wait until their child is at least 6 months old to get her ears pierced," Wendy Sue Swanson, M.D., told Parents Magazine.

Other health care professionals suggest waiting until the child actually requests to have their ears pierced. “My advice is to wait until your child is old enough to participate in caring for the earrings and the discussion of whether or not they want this done to their body,” Elizabeth Murray, a pediatric emergency medicine doctor told PEOPLE.

Website AskDrSears suggests waiting for your child to be 8 years old, an age where "they can responsibly care for their pierced ears."

Where Should You Go?

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One thing health care professionals and piercing professionals agree on is where to get the piercing done. Taking your toddler to a doctor's office or reputable piercing establishment to get their piercings done is highly recommended. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests having a medical professional such as a doctor or nurse perform the piercing. If your doctor doesn't do piercings, they recommend you choose an experienced technician. Parents should ensure the technician has at least one year experience doing piercings and follows proper sanitary procedures such as hand washing, using gloves and fully sterilizing your child's ear before the piercing.

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What Kind Of Earrings Are Best?

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The AAP suggests using a round earring with a gold post to help reduce the risk of an allergic reaction and minimize swelling in the area. Bruce A. Brod, M.D., clinical associate professor of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania Health System tells Parents Magazine he highly recommends that parents opt for surgical stainless steel earrings and posts. The reason for surgical stainless steel is also because of the low risk of your child developing an allergic reaction. Experts suggest that parents stay away from earrings that contain nickel and cobalt as allergies to those metals are quite common.

How Should You Care For Your Toddler's New Earrings?

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Proper cleaning and care of your toddler's new earrings is incredibly important to help prevent potential infections. We all know someone who has had to let their holes close because of chronic infections after piercing, and you want to do everything possible to prevent that from happening.

Parents should always ensure they've washed their hands before handling and cleaning newly pierced ears. Use rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide or antibiotic ointment to clean the ears at least twice daily. You also want to ensure you're rotating the earrings gently, to help maintain the shape of the piercing and to help with healing. Don't remove the child's earrings for at least the first six weeks to ensure the piercing has fully healed.

How To Identify Signs Of Infection

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While parents often do everything in their power to prevent infection of newly pierced ears, sometimes it just happens. It's important recognize the signs of infection so it can be treated quickly and safely. Dr. Jenny Murase tells Parents Magazine that any signs of redness, swelling, pain, itching, tenderness or problems with drainage at the site of the piercing are all signs of a possible infection or allergic reaction. If you notice any of these symptoms you should contact your doctor.

Allergic reactions can usually be fixed by choosing an earring made of a different metal, but if there is an infection, your child will probably be prescribed antibiotics and the earrings will need to be removed. Doctors don't suggest re-piercing for at least 6 months after the infection has cleared up.

Why Wait?

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For many, it's a cultural tradition to have their infant or toddler's ears pierced. For others, it's simply a preference. There are many reasons why doctors suggest waiting until your child is old enough to ask for their ears pierced before taking them to have it done.

“I have seen far too many infants and toddlers choke on or swallow earring parts. I’ve also seen a large number of earrings end up in a toddler’s nose!” Dr. Murray told PEOPLE.  Parents sometimes choose earrings that are too large for their child  and the posts often end up poking the child in the back of the head, or the backs of the earring become lodged in the back of the ear, another reason doctors suggest waiting for your child to be a bit older before piercing.

Others suggest that waiting for your child to be older allows them to actively participate in the cleaning and care of their earrings, which will cut down on the risk of infection.

Regardless of what age you choose to pierce your child's ears, following the advice given above can help prevent infection and ensure a successful piercing experience.

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