When Hilary Duff shared new pics of her baby girl, Banks, on Instagram this week, it's unlikely the actress had any idea the sweet photos would stir up controversy.
But that's just what happened when her fans and followers noticed she had the 8-month-old's ears pierced.
The buzz began Sunday, when the 31-year-old posted a beautiful black-and-white photo of her beaming as she held little Banks in her arms, and it really picked up after the actress posted another pic to her Instagram story, along with the caption, "Oh and yes we pierced her ears."
That's when the critical comments came rolling in.
"Just wondering how she gave you consent to pierce her ears?" one person wrote, adding that they were "unfollowing" the popular star.
"Babies are beautiful, why would they need their ears piercing?" another wrote.
Some expressed shock that Duff would inflict "unnecessary pain" on her infant, even calling the act of piercing a baby's ears "child abuse." But many commenters failed to find any fault with what Duff did.
"I am 51 yrs old and my sister and I had our ears pierced when we were babies as well and done with a needle," a sympathetic fan shot back. "I'm ok , I'm not traumatised and I don't remember because I was a baby. People need to stop judging what other people do, and look at what goes on in their own home."
Another defender added, "Got my bubs ears pierced at 3mths old, she didn't even wake from her sleep, not one single problem with them. She's now older & has never had an issue. She can always take them out if she hates them."
The debate about Duff's decision rages on online, but the actress can take heart knowing that she's far from the first celebrity mom to be shamed for this exact thing. In fact, it's a war of words on social media that resurfaces often.
Last summer, both Khloe Kardashian and her sister Kylie Jenner faced strong backlash after they each had their own infant daughter's ears pierced.
That's when TODAY Parents reached out to Dr. Bill Bush, the pediatrician-in-chief at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to give his medical opinion on the act that many see simply as a family or cultural tradition.
"I don't have a good reason to say that (parents can't have a baby's ears pierced)," he said. "Caring for an infant with pierced ears is no different than caring for another child, except (in a baby's case) it's up to the parent to care for (the child's ears)."
Bush's recommendation is that babies, as well as older children, wear earrings with safety backs that can't be pulled out by tiny hands.
And according to The American Academy of Pediatrics, "If the piercing is performed carefully and cared for conscientiously, there is little risk, no matter what the age of the child," though the group notes that "as a general guideline, postpone the piercing until your child is mature enough to take care of the pierced site herself."
Ultimately, it remains the decision of the parents — in this case, Duff and her fiance, Matthew Koma.
And though Duff, who's also mother to 7-year-old son Luca (from her marriage to Mike Comrie), has yet to respond to the many comments left on her post, if she did, it seems a safe bet she'd defend her choice.
"I'm proud of every mom out there who MAKES IT FREAKIN HAPPEN," she wrote in January. "All day! Everyday! You are the s---! Bad ass, super goddess, world taker oner and you deserved to be praised."