Whether or not you should pierce your baby’s ears is up for debate amongst parents but those that choose to do it will likely wonder when to change their baby’s earrings, how to do it, and other safety concerns that they should be aware of with earrings, in general.
You should not change your baby’s earrings for at least six weeks after they have been pierced for the first time and regular cleanings are critical for avoiding infections. After six weeks, you can change your baby’s earrings as often as you would like but be sure that they are not left out for more than a day to prevent the holes from closing.
If you are still considering getting your baby’s ears pierced, read further for helpful information about how to care for the piercings and your baby afterward.
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When Can I Change My Baby’s Earrings?
Most parents understand that getting a baby’s ears pierced is a simple process on its own but there is much more than goes into proper ear and earring care after the main event. For instance, you must be very careful just after the piercing to ensure that your baby doesn’t suffer and negative health effects.
You should wait at least six weeks to remove the starter earrings that the technician uses for the piercing. Since an ear piercing is literally a wound, this wound must heal properly and the skin must be strong inside the ear hole before you are able to remove the earring for any reason.
Furthermore, after you have taken them out, make sure you put a new pair right back in. If you don’t, the hole will close and you will have to do it all over again.
During this period, it’s important to remember that you should never touch the earring unless you are cleaning it. Even then, make sure your hands are washed with antibacterial soap. If your baby is old enough to reach for and touch her ears, pay special attention to keeping her hands and ears clean because there is likely to be all sorts of bodily fluids and dirt on those baby hands.
How Long Does a Baby’s Ear Piercing to Heal?
Since we are essentially waiting for your baby’s ears to heal before changing the earrings, this question is similar to the first.
Ear piercing healing time for infants is 6-weeks. After the 6-week healing time, you can then change your baby’s earrings. It could take up to 3 to 6-months after you have changed the earrings to completely heal. During this time, it’s important that you keep an eye out for an infection.
Just like any other cut or wound on your baby, you’ll want to use some best practices around care and hygeine:
Looking for Infection
After your baby gets their ears pierced, it’s vital that you keep an eye out for infections. There are a few reasons why babies may get an infection after a piercing which include:
- Earrings that are too tightly clasped
- An earring gets embedded in the earlobe
- An allergic reaction to nickel if the earrings are made from it
The nickel allergy is very common. The skin could become itchy, dry, present with a rash, or even blister. If the skin is irritated, it’s likely to become infected. If this is the case, make sure the earrings are 14-karat or stainless steel rather than nickel.
Keep Infections Away
You can keep infections away washing your hands with antibacterial soap before touching and cleaning their earrings each day during the first 6-weeks. Never dry their ear lobe with a towel. “Bath towels are a huge no-no. They carry a lot of bacteria and microbials.”According to body piercing specialist, Conrad Feldman. It’s best that you use a cotton swab, clean tissue, or paper towel.
Seeking Medical Attention
You may need to seek medical attention if your baby presents with the following:
- A fever
- Infection that does not improve within 48 hours of treatment
Note: Do not remove the jewelry if you suspect an infection. It should be left in as a drain until you can seek medical attention for your baby.
How Do You Take Baby Earring Out for the First Time?
Once you have waited the recommended 6-weeks for your baby’s ears to heal, you can proceed to take the earrings out. Be extra careful with your baby as she will not understand what is happening and there could be some pain associated with changing out the earrings.
Ideally, you will be able to reinforce the feeling that changing the earrings is a harmless and pain-free event for your baby!
Here’s how you can safely change your baby’s earrings:
- Remove The Stud – After you clean both the earring and the lobe, you can remove the stud. Hold it tight and pull the back of the earring. Do not pull the two parts away from each other or stretch the earlobe in a downward motion.
- Replace The Earrings – Once you have removed the starter studs from your baby’s ears, replace it with a pair of hypoallergenic earrings.
How to Clean a Baby’s Ear Piercing
It’s important that your hands are clean before you touch your baby’s ears. Here are safe practices you should follow to keep your baby’s ears clean and infection-free:
- Wash Your Hands – This step is the most important. If your hands are dirty, you risk spreading an infection to your baby. Your hands are covered in germs even though you can’t see them. It’s recommended that you wash your hands with antibacterial soap before you even think about touching your baby’s earrings.
- Clean Their Lobes – After you have washed your hands with antibacterial soap, make sure their earlobes are clean. You should soak a cotton swab in 3% hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol and rub it around the piercing.
- Move The Earring Around – Once you have cleansed the earlobe, move the earrings round in a clockwise motion to make sure everything is clean further. It is common for dirt, oil, and bacteria to collect inside the ear hole.
How Fast Do Baby Earring Holes Close?
While the earring holes on an adult might not close up quickly, babies are a different story!
If you have to take your baby’s earrings out for any reason, they will generally stay open for a day or two after being pierced for a few months. With that said, be sure to quickly put a set of earrings back into the holes shortly after cleaning to prevent closure.
Pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Shu says, “It may be necessary to push the earring post through a thin membrane of tissue. Look behind the ear so you can see the post pushing against the thinnest part of the lobe and then gently apply pressure to get the earring through.”
If they will not go through or you can’t see the post pushing against the back of the ear, you may need to take your baby to get their ears pierced again or wait until they are a little older if they are prone to infections.
What Type of Earrings Are Best for Newly Pierced Ears?
We’ve focused a lot on the when and how of changing a baby’s earrings, but what about the ‘What?’
A baby’s first pair of earrings should be 18k or 14k yellow gold, platinum, or surgical steel with screw-on backs as opposed to push-on backs. A nickel allergy is very common and since babies have sensitive skin, it’s best that you avoid nickel altogether.
Here’s a breakdown of the best metals for baby earrings:
- Stainless Steel: This is a very body-friendly metal. It’s ideal for babies who have allergies. However, if they have hypersensitivity, titanium should be used instead.
- Titanium (surgical steel): Titanium is great for the first piercing. It’s very lightweight and body-friendly. It is very resistant to seawater if you visit or live near the sea and visit it frequently. It’s also hypoallergenic.
- Gold: Gold is hypoallergenic but more expensive than stainless steel and surgical steel.
- Platinum: Platinum is one of the purest metals that body jewelry can be made from, it’s also the most expensive. However, it’s hypoallergenic.
What Size and Type of Earrings are Best for Babies
In addition to what kind of material you should use for your baby’s earrings, let’s look at the correct sizing:
The size earrings you choose for your baby depends on the size of the earlobe. For newborns and young babies with small earlobes, 1/8-inch or 3/16-inch studs are ideal. Babies (not newborns) can use the average size of 1/4-inch studs.
Studs are the most recommended earring for babies. Hoops are not recommended because the baby may pull on them once they recognize they are there. This can cause tearing and infection. They may also pull them out, causing ingestion or aspiration.
Are Screw Back Earrings Safe for Babies?
“Earrings with locking or screw-on backs are recommended for infants and young children because of the risk of ingestion or aspiration”, according to Donna I Meltzer, M.D. Push back earrings can fall out, creating the ingestion risk that Dr. Meltzer mentioned.
Screw back earrings are the most asked for style as they are very secure. They twist on to the post and stay in place. It’s quite difficult for a child to remove by themselves, making it impossible for them to fall out of your baby’s ears.
The screw backs have a closed-end that keeps the post from poking out and hurting the baby. This style is very comfortable for your baby while they are sleeping.