What Is the Right Age for Puberty to Begin in Girls?

Also read: What Does Puberty Look Like for Boys?

Puberty can hit like a ton of bricks, or it can roll in slowly like a flurry that turns into a full blown storm. No matter the age of your child when he or she jumps on that hormonal roller coaster,  We’ve all gone through it, yet there is something about watching your baby grow up that can be devastatingly sad and downright scary. It is even worse when it all confuses you … too early? Too late? Is this normal? I have a hard time remembering yesterday, forget about what did or did not happen to me 30 years ago. Muddying the waters more is the fact that, on average, kids today are going through puberty earlier than we did. So, what is the right age?

Of course the answer for the most part is, the right age is individual for each child. But, there are such things as early puberty and delayed puberty. Here are some general guidelines and some advice on when to talk to your child’s pediatrician.

Also read: Should Your Tween Get the HPV Vaccine?

What is the average age of puberty onset in girls?
On average, girls start between 10 and 14, though in the past decades we have seen higher numbers of girls starting earlier.

What does the beginning of puberty look like for a girl?
In 85% of girls, the first noticeable sign of puberty will be breast growth. This is followed by pubic hair growth (15% of girls will see this as the first sign.) Menstruation usually starts about 2 years later, and is usually preceded by the biggest growth spurt.

Other fun things to look forward to for both boys and girls is acne, body odor and generally acting like little ungrateful a-holes.

When to worry …

Early or precocious puberty occurs when the above signs start before the age of 8 in a girl (and before the age of 9 in a boy.) It is more common in girls. In addition to the obvious social and emotional issues this may cause, kids with untreated precocious puberty usually end up being shorter than average. There are medications to slow down the rate of puberty. You should definitely discuss with your doctor if you have any questions.

Delayed puberty in girls occurs when there are no breast buds by 13 or no menses by the age of 16. In the majority of cases, it is just a normal variant, and these kids will simply be late bloomers. Sometimes though, there is a medical cause, e.g. an eating disorder, celiac disease, a thyroid disorder. While chances are there is no cause for concern, I recommend speaking to your child’s doctor if you suspect delayed puberty, just to rule out a medical cause.

It’s a wild ride, full of laughs, smells, pimple popping, training bras, shouts and of course, some tears. For a while you may not recognize the kid you gave birth to, but I promise, when it is all over, you will still be able to find the baby you fell in love, only now you will see him or her in the shadows of their more mature face. It is a little sad to lose the little kid, but older kids are a ton of fun. As with almost everything parenting, the best advice is, “this too shall pass.”

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Author: Karen Latimer

Dr. Latimer is a Family Physician and Wellness & Parenting Coach. She works with parents who want to feel more confident when helping their children and coaches young adults to help them better navigate college life and transitions. Contact her at drkarenlatimer@gmail.com to learn more. She is the author of two Audible Originals, Take Back the House -- Raising Happy Parents and Worry Less, Parent Better. She is also the co-founder of the app that makes your life easier and puts social in a healthier place -- List'm.


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