Going to get your kid’s ears pierced is like a birthday—it’s something they probably await for an entire year, and get to come back with a huge present: Pierced ears! Truly a magical day for all.

However, there are still plenty of things to keep in mind before heading out for the occasion. You’re probably wondering when the best age is to go and get it done, how to choose what piercing place to go to, and how you might distract your kid from the pain (and from crying).

Let’s start with what the best age is. Some parents think getting their ears pierced earlier than later is a good decision since the child probably won’t remember the pain later on, which is true. However, it’s best to wait until they’re six months at least, or older.

“Any time you puncture the skin, you open up the opportunity for infection, and because infants still have developing immune systems, I encourage parents to wait until their child is at least 6 months old to get her ears pierced,” says Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Some parents want to make sure their child actually wants to have their ears pierced, and like to wait until they’re old enough to make that decision—at least 10 years old or older. It’s completely up to you when you’d like to do it!

If you do take your child when they’re older, they’ll have to deal with the pain. As far as the pain goes, know that there’s no way to make the experience completely bearable. After all, you’re puncturing a hole into the skin, so it will hurt.

Talk with your child about how it might hurt for a few seconds, but that the pain won’t last for long. If you’re really worried about it, your pediatrician may be able to prescribe a topical numbing cream that can help numb some of the pain. You can also try to distract your child during the process by asking her questions or telling her a funny story.

Now, for where to go? Your best bet is to first see if your dermatologist or pediatrician does piercings, since you can rest assured they’ll use the proper sterile equipment and follow important safety procedures. If not, seek out a technician with more than a year experience and who has good reviews.

You’ll want to look for things how well they practice safety protocol, such as thoroughly cleaning your kid’s earlobes with an alcohol pad and doesn’t reuse ear piercers. Ask around for recommendations rom friends and family who’ve gone to get their child’s piercings done before.

Something else to keep in mind is which type of earrings to go with. This is probably one of the most fun parts of the process for your little one—getting to pick their favorite earrings to get their ears pierced with.

However, it’s best to stay away from nickel and cobalt, since these are the most common metals that children are allergic to. Try platinum, titanium, and 14K gold to start with, since these are the safest, though speaking with your doctor couldn’t hurt.

After the piercing, keep a close eye on the ears and follow any instructions the technician has given you on washing or sleeping on the piercings. The first two weeks after a piercing is when the ears are most prone to infection, so be sure to be extra cautious during this time.

Your pediatrician or piercing technician should be able to answer any and all of your questions or concerns you may have. Don’t be scared to be speak up!

When did you decide to get your child’s ears pierced or let them get it done? How did that experience go?