5 Things to Look for When Getting Your Child’s Ears Pierced

How to Choose the Safest and Best Place for You and Your Child

By Jennifer So, Publisher, Macaroni Kid Birmingham-Troy May 26, 2018

“Mom, I REALLY want to get my ears pierced!”  Those were words I didn’t expect to hear from my 8-year old.  When we go to the doctor’s office, the first thing she asks is “Will I have to get a shot?!”  She’s scared of needles and won’t let me even take a splinter out of her hand.  Deep down, I felt excited though!  When I would see toddlers with their tiny ears pierced, I used to say, “I wish I would have gotten my daughter’s ears pierced when she was a baby!”  And so it began…my great search for the right piercing shop for this adventure.  

After visiting doctor’s offices, mall piercing stands, Claire’s, and tattoo/piercing shops, as well as researching online, I’ve decided I am no longer willing to go to a place where piercers certify by “watching a video and practicing on fake ears, and then training on real ears, all within 2 weeks” (as I was told by a mall shop).  I encourage you to visit a few places and have them walk you through their process before scheduling your child’s piercing.  I feel most comfortable taking my child to a very reputable tattoo/piercing shop in Troy, MI.  I sat down with co-owner and piercer Mike Moore at Ironclad Tattoo Co. for some expert information.  Here are the things to look for and ask when finding the right place for your child:

1.  The Basics- Do they work with children?  At what age will they pierce a child’s ears?What documentation is required at the time of piercing?  How much will it cost?

Some shops do not work with children, or they require kids to be at an appropriate age of consent.  Many require a birth certificate and photo ID from the parent to pierce a child.  Remember, you get what you pay for.  Your child will likely have the piercings for the rest of his/her life.  It’s worth it to spend a little more for an expert that does things safely and properly to avoid infections, scar tissue, and misplaced piercings.  

2.  Do they use a piercing gun?

The right answer is “NO”.According to Moore, “Piercing guns cause extra trauma to the ear lobes.  Piercing guns are not regulated by the health department, and they use the jewelry itself to pierce.”  Because the point of the jewelry remains exposed behind the child’s ear, it can’t possibly be as sharp as the needles used by proper piercers, or it would be a hazard to wear daily and sleep in.  This means more pain and trauma to little ones and higher chance of scar tissue.

3.  What kind is the jewelry is used?

According to the Association of Professional Piercers (APP), “Only sterile, disposable equipment is suitable for body piercing, and that only materials which are certified as safe for internal implant should be placed inside a fresh or unhealed piercing.”  Look for implant-grade surgical steel or implant-grade titanium, certified by the FDA as safe for long-term implant in the human body.There is much less chance of irritation and trauma to the ear with high-quality, medical-grade materials, and they can be used for years and years.  Also, trained and experienced piercers will choose the right length of jewelry, based on the child’s ear lobes.  According to Moore, “The jewelry should be custom fit for the child to allow room for swelling, and they shouldn’t use butterfly backings.”  With butterfly backings, the child risks the jewelry fitting too closely, risking infection from bacteria and fluid from the piercing.  After the swelling has subsided, your piercer will check the fit and downsize if necessary.

4.  What is your sterilization process?

Make sure all reusable materials are sterilized in an autoclave for each client, and preferably right in front of you.  All disposable supplies should be contained until the time of use, and not placed on surfaces that aren’t sterile.  Disinfectant wipes are not enough to sterilize a surface.Your piercer will likely change his/her gloves several times during the set-up and piercing process.   Plastic ear-piercing guns cannot be sterilized or put into an autoclave, so they can put clients in direct contact with the blood and body fluids of previous clients.  

5.  What is appropriate after-care and follow-up?

The aftercare for your piercing should be explained to you and provided in writing.  Read through the sheet before having a piercing done.  Many things about piercing care have changed since we were young, and piercings are not treated with “wound care” anymore.  According to the APP, if you are told to treat your piercing with harsh soap, ointment, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, the studio is not keeping up with industry standards.  Sea salt (or saline) solutions are the best option for keeping your new piercing clean.”  

A reputable, trustworthy piercer cares about your child’s piercing even after you walk out of the shop.  They tell you how to care for your piercing and encourage you to call them if you see any worrisome before contacting a doctor.  They also encourage a follow-up visit to have your piercing checked and your jewelry resized, if necessary.  

In the end, you know what’s best for your family in choosing the right place to get your child’s ears pierced.  Visit a local shop with your child and observe how the piercers interact with him or her.  Do they involve the child in the conversation?  Do they go over aftercare with both you and the child at the appointment?  Quality shops spend time explaining the piercing process and aftercare to the child as well as the parent.  They adequately sterilizing with proper equipment, utilizing the best materials for piercings, and providing follow-up care.  For more information on piercing regulations and recommendations, visit the Association of Professional Piercers at  

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