Most first-time parents are well-versed on their children’s developmental milestones. You do your research beforehand and know more or less when to expect an activity that reflects progress. However, there are things that are not considered growth targets but are more like rites of passage or indicators of social and emotional readiness, many of which have no strict carry-out dates. This leaves you asking, “When is the best time to do this?”
Here, we ask several experts to provide some general guidelines. Please remember though that not all children develop at the same rate so there really are no hard and fast rules.
When is the best time to …
1…have a boy circumcised? Joy Ty-Sy, M.D., a pediatrician from Cardinal Santos Medical Center in San Juan, clarifies that circumcision “is more of a religious or cultural issue, than a medical one.” If neonatal circumcision wasn’t done, she assures that it can be delayed until the pre-teen or teenage years when the boy can fully understand what he will go through (i.e., pain and post-circumcision care). She further advises parents requesting circumcision of their male children to have both general and local complications explained to the child.
Dr. Ty-Sy adds there are, however, medical conditions that warrant an earlier circumcision such as balanitis xerotica obliterans, a skin condition affecting the male genitalia; recurrent balanoposthitis or inflammation of the foreskin and glans in uncircumcised males; and proven urinary tract infection or urinary tract anomaly, to reduce the risk of infections with possible local and systemic damage.
2…have a girl’s ears pierced? Some parents choose to have their baby’s ears pierced at birth or during the first year of life while others prefer to wait it out until the child is four or five years old. “In my opinion, any age is okay,” says Dr. Ty-Sy. “If you want it done early, the baby should have at least received her first anti-tetanus vaccine, which is usually part of DTap-IPV combination vaccine, and the size of her earlobe is big enough so that the earring will be positioned centrally.”
For bigger kids, Dr. Ty-Sy recommends that it’s best to wait until the child is emotionally ready to go through the brief pain and understand the process. “Parents must be aware that after ear piercing, a great amount of care is required to prevent infection,” she cautions. “Alcohol must be dabbed on the earlobe three times a day for at least two weeks. Do not attempt to remove the earring until after two months or so. If there’s irritation or some discharge, have your daughter’s earlobes checked immediately by your pediatrician.”