What age should children have their ears pierced?

There's no legal age limit for ear piercing - but how young is too young?

Baby with ears pierced

How old should children be before they get their ears pierced - and how young is too young?

Celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Katie Price and Angelina Jolie have all had their children's ears pierced at a young age, bringing the debate to the table again and again.

But when it comes to getting your children's ears pierced, how young is actually too young?

Because there is no legal age restriction on most body piercings (although a consent form needs signing for under-16s) the decision is entirely on your shoulders - and many mums and dads struggle to find an age where they feel comfortable saying yes to have their kids' ears pierced.

According to a 2013 study, seven is the average age for girls to get their ears pierced, but many are getting them done younger and younger - some before they can even walk or talk - and it's an issue that divides parents across the country.

Arguments for ear piercings at a young age often centre on small children being less aware of the pain, and not fiddling with their studs as much during the healing period, while those against say that it should be the child's choice, and they should be old enough to ask for and understand the process - including how to take care of their new appendages themselves.

When should a child have their ears pierced? The celebs sparking the debate...

Kylie Jenner has been the latest celeb mum to spark a debate on whether babies should have their ears pierced at such young age, after she posted a video of her baby daughter Stormi wearing earrings.

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While she hasn't addressed the criticism, many fans took to the comments section to share their opinion, with one saying: 'it makes me sad that khloe and kylie pierced their bubbas ears already:(( just let them do it when they grow up'. Another added: 'Noooo, why has Kylie Jenner had her 5 month old baby’s ears pierced?!! 😷🤦🏻 ♀️'.

In 2016, Katie Price came under fire when she posted a photo of her then one-year-old daughter Bunny with her ears pierced.

The mum-of-five defended her decision by saying: 'I'm not going to sit here and justify myself, she looks really cute.' However, the former glamour model also revealed eight-year-old Princess wants to pierce her ears but her father, Peter Andre, does not allow it.

Kim Kardashian was another celebrity causing controversy in the ear piercing debate. When her daughter North, aged just one at the time, was pictured sporting stud earrings, fans were quick to judge the reality TV star for her decision.

Other celebrity kids including Vivian Brady, daughter of model Gisele Bundchen, and Zahara Jolie-Pitt have their ears pierced too (although Zahara, who got her ears pierced aged six, is said to have screamed, and put off her five-year-old sister Shiloh with her reaction!)

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Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen's daughter Vivian, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian's daughter North, and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's daughter Zahara have all had their ears pierced

The decision can even cause opposition between parents in the same family - Atomic Kitten singer Natasha Hamilton reportedly argued with Ritchie Neville, the father of her daughter Ella Rose, about whether or not their little one should have her ears pierced as a baby.

'Personally, I'd rather not have the baby's ears pierced, as it goes... I think she should decide. And if she wants it, that's up to her,' Ritchie explained.

However, Natasha's mum is said to have responded, '[The baby] is having her ears pierced before she is one. It's a family tradition!'

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Natasha Hamilton and ex Ritchie Neville are said to have disagreed over the fate of their daughter Ella's lobes

And it's not just the celebs who can't make up their minds...

Ear piercing in the news

In 2015, a petition declared that the process should be made illegal, deeming it 'physically harming' and 'a form of child cruelty'.

'Severe pain and fear is inflicted upon infants unnecessarily,' the campaign's creator, Susan Ingram, wrote on the online poll. 'It serves no purpose other than to satisfy the parent's vanity. Other forms of physically harming children are illegal - this should be no different.'

Those in support of the petition agreed with her sentiments - in the 'reasons for signing' section, one stated: 'smacking a child is abuse, so how come sticking metal rods through their ears is not abuse??!!'

Another commented: 'Stop parents inflicting unnecessary pain on a child. Claire Accessories are one of the worst offenders for piercing babies and toddlers ears. Make it illegal please.'

In a poll conducted by playpennies.com, parents voted on whether piercing babies and toddlers should indeed be banned, and a massive 75.21% agreed that it should. One user commented: 'I have had my daughters ears pierced when she was just over 2 years old - and I regret doing it, big time'. 23.12%, however, voted against the ban, agreeing that it's up to the parents:

'My daughter has her ears pierced, she didn't cry and I don't see it as a form of abuse but simply tradition just as I had mine and my mum had hers and so on!'

Also in 2015, a scene on Channel 5's 'Blinging Up Baby' featuring a four month old getting her ears pierced caused massive controversy amongst its audience.

Photographer Jerri Lee, mum to Milan and Valentino, was filmed taking her youngest daughter at one month old to a shop to get the new adornments, and the baby was seen squirming and crying in her lap as the procedure was carried out.

'I had my ears pierced as a baby. Years ago, everybody had their ears pierced at six weeks old,' Jerri explained to the crew. 'I think the younger the better, they don't have to remember the pain. Five minutes later they've forgotten that they've even had it done.'

However, despite her justification, some viewers strongly disagreed with Jerri's decision.

What YOU have to say about children getting their ears pierced

We asked you for your thoughts on ear piercing on our Facebook page, and we got a vast range of opinions...

Anna Sellers: Don't get me started on this subject! Piercing babies ears is Vile, they don't want it or need it and it looks wrong! Why inflict that pain on a baby?! I had mine done when I was 14 and I'm planning on my girls at least being in secondary school. It should be illegal below a certain age, maybe 5/6. Before that age it's the parent who wants to try and make their baby look "pretty" and I just don't think that's fair, apart from the fact it looks incredibly chavvy!'

Rosie Bowers: I had my done at 6 weeks. My daughters were done at 5 months. She is about to turn 10! No harm and as for pain it's the same as giving them injections! Injections may well be more necessary! Shouldn't it be up to the parents preference! I wouldn't call u vile for putting them through that pain at age 8 when to me they are so more aware of the pain!

Gemma Renehan My daughter had hers done for her 8th birthday as I felt she was old enough to decide...I think its awful getting babies and toddlers ears pierced and it should be banned!

Kelly Higgs: I don't disagree with anyone having their children's ears pierced but for me personally i had mine done when i was about 4 and i let me daughter decide when she wanted hers done as its her body so her choice she was 10 when she asked so i took her x

Linzi Coppock: Makes me feel sick seeing babies with ears pierced. I don't have a girl so probably won't deal with this but I had mine done aged 9 I think, and I knew what the deal was then.

Stella Davies Both my girls had it done at 6 months old,do it when they dont know whats happening and they are not touching them all the time,like a older child would.get it down out of the way.

Ruth Akers: I'm a beautician that does ear piercing and ud be amazed at the ages some people get their kids done I hate it but if parents allow it what can u do?? I personally think the child has to be big enough to ask and when they ask old enough to understand it hurts and they need cleaning and looking after. Another good tip if your little one is wanting it done is wait till beginning of 6 weeks holidays then they've got all summer to heal b4 going to school and having to tape up or take out for pe and other kids pulling them.

Whilst there's no legal cut-off age for ear piercing, many of you felt that there was such a thing as too much too young!

Denise Ashton-Simpson: I had both my girls ears done when they were 1 neither 1 regret that I made that choice for them. In fact over the years they then had them pierced several times. My grand daughter was nearly 3 she asked for ear rings & still loves them!!!

Joanne Bird: My eight and seven year old girls refuse to have theirs done,... Might have something to do with me telling them it's blumming painful and if their not cleaned properly they go manky

Rebecca Angela Lewis: I had mine done at two and screamed the place down, now I don't wear earrings but have two horrible holes! I would allow my daughter when she was old enough to ask and understand the care in having them done.

Lorna Coll: If they can ask, they can. I was young, but old enough to ask. My mum was completely honest with me and told me it would hurt a lot but I insisted I wanted them done so I could be like her. I won't lie....I had to really hold back the tears haha

Hazel Rea: When my daughter was 11 a lot of her friends were getting their ears pierced and she wanted to have hers done. We told her if she waited until she was 16 we would buy her a pair of diamond studs for her 16th birthday - she waited and we did.

So - would YOU let your child get their ears pierced at a young age? Let us know in the comment section below!

Rachael Martin
Digital journalist and editor

An internationally published digital journalist and editor, Rachael has worked for both news and lifestyle websites in the UK and abroad. Rachael's published work covers a broad spectrum of topics and she has written about everything from the future of sustainable travel, to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the world we live in, to the psychology of colour.