Do you have guidance or resources for making a decision about circumcision? We don’t have any specific cultural or religious influences.—Meg
There is a section on this in Cribsheet, but let me give you the highlights here (if you have the book: more is in the chapter “The First Three Days”). This is a clear case in which parental preferences are the dominant part of the decision. There are some small benefits to circumcision and some very small risks. So the ultimate choice is really up to What do you want your son’s penis to look like?, a question only you can answer!
On the small-benefits side, we have several things. First, circumcision is associated with a reduction (from 1% to about 0.13%) in the risk of a urinary tract infection during childhood. Second, uncircumcised boys can suffer from phimosis, a condition that causes the foreskin to tighten and will need to be treated, possibly with a circumcision, at an older age (this affects about 1% of children). Finally, there is a lower lifetime risk of penile cancer. However, penile cancer is extremely rare, so this benefit is pretty small.
On the risks side: the main issue is the risk of infection. This is a tiny risk in hospital-based circumcision — perhaps 1.5% of circumcisions result in very minor complications, and virtually none result in serious adverse consequences. Many parents are concerned about pain, but pain relief during circumcision is the norm now (this was not always true).
In the end, this is a very safe procedure with limited risks and small benefits. In the U.S., about half of boys born are circumcised. It’s really up to you.