It was circa 1986. Dressed in your pegged jeans, Madonna bracelets, and denim vest, you headed out to the mall 鈥 big hair and all. With mom by your side, you marched to the jewelry kiosk that was somewhere between the corn dog on a stick place and The Limited. A gum-smacking teen with a plastic piercing gun thrust a pair of heart-shaped studs through your lobes, and boom, you had pierced ears. Rad. Now that you鈥檙e a mama, you鈥檝e heard that the ear piercing gun isn鈥檛 the way to go and that you should consider a professional piercer. Before hitting the mall with your little one, get the what鈥檚 what on ear piercing.

Baby Girl

1. Ear piercing guns use blunt force. Ear piercing guns at the mall puncture the stud through your child鈥檚 lobes vs. a needle actually piercing the skin. The force from the piercing gun pushes the stud (which isn鈥檛 exactly sharp) though the earlobe. Ouch! Yeah, this sounds kind of traumatic. Well, that鈥檚 because it is.

2. Training is important. These are your child鈥檚 ears we鈥檙e talking about here. Obviously, you want the most qualified person possible to pierce them. No one鈥檚 saying that some mall piercers are all unqualified. Some have plenty of training. But, then again, some don鈥檛. A piercing professional who knows their away around a needle is what your child needs. The pro should also use sterile techniques, wear disposable gloves, and have experience, experience, and then some more experience. Along with that, you want to go with a pro who is used to piercing kids. Piercing a wiggling, wriggling toddler is waaaaaaay different than piercing a 22-year-old.

3. Sterilization and sanitization are different things. Piercing guns are clean. Technically. After each piercing someone wipes the gun down, probably with some sort of antibacterial cleanser. But they鈥檙e made out of plastic, so you can鈥檛 properly sterilize it like you would with a needle. The professional piercer can use high heat and steam to sterilize the needle (think of how doctors clean medical equipment). While some mall store piercers use disposable cartridges in the guns, a lack of training combined with the inability to fully sterilize the permanent parts may up the risk of infection.

4. Ear piercing guns are intimidating. Guns are scary, and that includes the piercing kind too. Your kiddo sees this odd-looking contraption coming toward her face and 鈥 she鈥檚 out. No, needles aren鈥檛 exactly friendly looking. But the professional piercer knows how to handle that needle and how to keep your child calm.

5. The age of the child matters. Along with where you get your child鈥檚 ears pierced, the when also majorly matters. Plenty of mamas choose to get their baby鈥檚 ears pierced. Yep, baby鈥檚 ears. Some tiny tots are totally okay with getting pierced. Others 鈥 well, not so much. A pro won鈥檛 force a baby to go under the needle. A crying child who鈥檚 all wriggly isn鈥檛 exactly in the perfect position for piercing. Resistance, crying, screaming, or all-out wailing says something. And that is, 鈥淚鈥檓 not ready yet!鈥

6.Mall jewelry isn鈥檛 always the best quality. That stuff you find at the mall kiosk isn鈥檛 exactly high quality. It鈥檚 not true all of the time, but in general, the $10 star-shaped studs your child picks out probably aren鈥檛 top-notch options. A professional piercer will use higher quality jewelry and make sure that the earrings are the right size and shape for your child鈥檚 lobes.

7.Don鈥檛 judge a piercing professional by his cover. That tattooed guy with a man-bun, skinny jeans, and facial piercings may look sort of scary, but let鈥檚 not judge a book by its cover here. Long gone are the days when all piercing salons were skeevy smoke-filled dens. A professional piercer is exactly that 鈥 a professional. He or she has extensive training, knows what they鈥檙e doing, and is completely skilled in the art (yes, art) of piercing.

What do you think is the 鈥渞ight鈥 age to consider piercing your child鈥檚 ears? Share yours and tweet us @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)