Kim Kardashian and daughter North West, pre-ear piercing. (Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters)

Word came out earlier this week that Kim Kardashian and Kanye West gave baby North a pair of diamond studs for her first birthday, along with some pierced ears for showing off her new bling. For all of the outcry on social media and mommy blogs, you would think Nori was sporting a new tat.

People have called the piercing everything from cruel to a sign that Kim and Kanye are unfit parents. Really? Over getting her little ears pierced? Apparently, this is a debate that has been going on for some time, said Roxana A. Soto, the features editor for the Web site Mamás Latinas. Soto said she has heard it called child abuse or even mutilation, and she finds it baffling.

“It’s completely ludicrous,” Soto said. “I’ve never understood it. It’s a very personal decision, and I don’t think it harms the baby. I actually think Kim waited a long time to do it!”

Soto, who was born in Peru, had her ears pierced before she left the hospital. That’s common for girls in Latin American countries, she said. Her daughter Vanessa Guzman-Soto, who is 7, had hers pierced when she was four months old. The only reason it took that long, Soto said, was because she had a hard time finding someone in their hometown of Denver who could do it. She wanted to have a pediatrician pierce Vanessa’s ears, but couldn’t find one.

For Soto, getting Vanessa’s ears pierced as soon as possible was just a matter of course. It’s the way things had always been done in her family, where shopping for those first tiny studs is a really big deal for moms, grandmothers, aunts or godmothers. Buying those earrings, and piercing a baby’s ears, is a rite of passage in her culture (and many others, as well).

Some moms do it to clearly differentiate that the baby is a girl. Others do it just because, well, it’s what you do. Or, as one of my coworkers recently said, “You have this beautiful baby girl and you just want to doily her up.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t have an official policy statement on piercing babies’ ears, according to spokeswoman Deborah Johnson, but they generally recommend waiting until a child is old enough to take care of the piercings on their own, and to make sure to use posts with secure backs to prevent choking.

Since it’s not considered a major safety hazard, I say live and let live. My daughter is 7, and her ears are not pierced. Most of her cousins’ ears are, though. I have avoided it not because I have a strong feeling on the subject, but because I don’t wear earrings and don’t want to mess with them for her (plus she has this habit of losing things). When she’s old enough to manage it herself, if she wants them, I’ll take her to get it done.

In the meantime, if another mom wants to hassle with diamonds or little gold balls in her daughter’s ears, hey, go for it. Surely there are more important things for moms to talk about. Now, about conditions for working parents in the United States

How old do you think children should be before getting their ears pierced?

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