I had my daughter's ears pierced when she was 4 months old. Minus a little crying when it was first done, she never messed with them. She is 4 1/2 now and loves them. But then again both my husband and i have piercings and stretched ears. At her age, she is already saying she wants to stretch her ears like mommy. I feel that it is your decision though. When they are babies, they are a lot less likely to mess with them - 4 & 5 years olds can't seem to keep their hands off new piercings. Also as a bonus, if you are breastfeeding, it is a great natural healer and our piercer actually recommended it.
That leads me to another thing...you asked for recommendations as well. My #1 recommendation is do NOT go to some jewelry store in the mall or even your pediatrician to get them done! Go to a professional, experienced and reputable piercer like those you find in a tattoo shop. Any good piercer has been professionally trained and licensed (mall places just do a quick training to whatever employee and the guns are not properly cleaned, not to mention loud and frightening). Professionals are required by the state to keep the license current. Any good shop is inspected yearly and must pass inspection to stay open. They will use a proper, sterile needle (any good shop will have an autoclave on sight) and will use surgical steel capture ball hoops. The hoops are not only easier to clean, the ball is secure and not easily removed (unlike many regular earrings - my daughter still has the same pair in that she was pierced with and they have NEVER come out). The other bonus, as someone said, a jewelry store piercer may not line the piercing up properly to account for the child's ear growing. A professional is trained on proper placement as well. And they will also tell you to NEVER use the cleaning solution sold at the mall type stores. All that is needed is a little antibacterial soap when you bath the child and sea salt rinse a few times a day (as I said, breast milk works as well since it's so full of antibodies - used it for my daughter). To find a good shop, start calling around your neighborhood or stopping by to see what the place looks like. If you see someone with body piercings, don't be afraid to ask them if they were done locally, the name of the place and if they would recommend them for piercings. Don't be afraid to ask questions when you go into the shop - you are paying for a service and they are there to provide you with the most information possible. You will pay a little more (maybe $35) for it to be done professionally, but its so much better in the long run.
Sorry to make that so long, but I have nearly 20 piercings (and several friends with multiple piercings), both by gun at the mall (as a kid) and by a professional by needle and I would take the professional with a needle any day over the gun!