Why Piercing Your Baby's Ears Should be Illegal

by Kate Tunstall

Why? Common sense. To be honest, I could end this post right there, that’s how obvious it seems to me and the majority of sensible adults. But I’ll break it down for you nonetheless…

For any parent who has ever seen their child in significant pain, this is not a dilemma. When you’ve watched your child suffering and felt the intense despair that comes from wishing you could feel it for them and save their distress, then actively causing it is unthinkable. Especially when the only pay off is your own conceit.

If you disagree with me then I can tell already that you’re not my person, and I’m not yours.

I will never understand how a person could allow invite pain to their child on a whim. In no other situation is pushing a sharp needle into somebody smaller than you acceptable. In any other circumstances this would be categorised as child abuse - so why not when the procedure is simply to facilitate a parent adorning their child?


Reasons to Pierce Your Baby’s Ears

What legitimate reasons could you possibly give? I’m sure some will be forthcoming - and I also bet that I have an answer for them all.

If, for example, you were to argue that all little girls eventually have their ears pierced and so you’re saving pain down the road by doing it at an age when it won’t be remembered, then my answer would be that you’re cruel. Harsh? If you choose to thread a needle through the flesh of your tiny infant then yes, yes you are.

[Read more: Why I Think You're Wrong if You Don't Immunise Your Kids]

It’s barbaric on two levels:

  • The one thing all babies have in common is that they look to their caretakers to, um, take care of them. That precludes causing them pain - the very opposite of which should be true. Exploiting their vulnerability and abusing their trust is shameful.
  • Marking a child’s body in this way cannot be undone - what gives anybody the right? And what if they want to buck the current cultural trend and would not have wanted their ears pierced if only given the choice? That autonomy over their own body is taken away forever. Which kind of goes against the important message we’re all pushing about your body being your own, and that nobody else should inflict harm on or touch it in any way that’s inappropriate.

UK Piercing Laws

In the UK it’s illegal to tattoo somebody under 18; why should piercings be viewed so differently? The reality is that other than intimate areas, there are currently no laws governing piercings in the UK, though many stores have their own policies. And frankly, I struggle to comprehend how anybody could happily take that needle to an innocent baby and force it through their tissue. They’re as culpable as the parent. 

Many (reputable) places actually refuse to pierce anyone under 12, even with their parent's consent. Their reasons? As a child's ear grows, the piercing may not be in the intended place 10 years later and the use of piercing guns (which makes piercing super quick, desirable if they're a wriggler) is improper practice for many parlours as they are unsanitary and can actually cause traumatic, lasting damage to their ear cartilage by piercing with the blunt stud.

Unless we’re talking about medical treatment and immunisations - which are necessary and horrible to inflict - then this topic should not even be up for debate. Wilfully hurting an infant or very young child for any reason other than their health is wicked.


And this is without even mentioning the possibility of infection or other related issues! It may not be the norm, but 35% of youngsters experience at least one complication from ear piercing. Can you imagine the guilt if they tore it out? Why would you voluntarily put you, child, at that risk, simply for vanity?

In most cases, I’m happy to live and let live and I enjoy a discussion - in most cases, I’m open to having my mind changed with a well-thought-out argument. But this is one of the few situations in which I will actively choose not to associate with somebody because I so fundamentally differ - it’s almost a given that we’d have nothing in common. Every time I see it, it shocks me. And every time I can’t help but look at the parents differently. I know I’m being judgemental, but in these very specific circumstances, I feel validated.

My values and maternal instincts tell me to always nurture babies and to never cause them unnecessary discomfort. I will never be swayed on that.

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Written by

Kate Tunstall

Recovering Cynic; Fledgling Optimist; Connoisseur of Cake: Kate Tunstall blogs at The Less-Refined Mind and has been featured on BritMums, Mothercare, and Huffington Post. An award-nominated blogger and author, Kate is an experienced breastfeeding advocate, and expert baby sleep chaser. From petty peeves to politics, Kate doesn’t shy away from telling it like it is. Sometimes caustic - but always candid – she loves a provocative subject matter almost as much as she loves (good) coffee and (great) cake. As an inevitable role-model to her daughters, Kate regularly throws in an ‘inspirational’ post in an effort to quell her cynicism and promote positivity. Kate resides in rural Essex with her champion husband and their young daughters, affectionately known as the ‘Devil Pixie’ and ‘Elfin Angel’ - only one of whom lives up to their moniker…

Articles on YourBabyClub.co.uk are a mixture of informative pieces, anecdotal accounts and professional advice from our panel of Bloggers, Writers and Experts. The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official view of Your Baby Club UK

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