Inside: By looking our for the first signs of puberty in girls (or kids with a female body), parents can be prepared and start talking to their daughters about puberty BEFORE their body starts to change!
You might already be seeing the first signs of puberty in your female child – either in your own child or their friends.
But you’re not alone if you feel that puberty has crept up on you, out of the blue. It happens to us all. Yesterday, they looked like little children but today, you see them blossoming into adulthood.
You can read more in this article, about the signs of puberty in boys (or kids with male bodies).
You’ll find more information about puberty in my Puberty 101 page.
When to expect to see the first signs of puberty in girls
So when should you expect to see the first signs of puberty in kids with a female body?
For females, puberty usually begins around the age of 9 to 10. It can be as early as 8 (yes, that early) or as late as 15. Every person is different and puberty will begin when their body is ready for it. You can’t rush it!
The timing of puberty is influenced by many things – diet, body weight and their environment. The chances are, that if you were an early or late bloomer, that your female child will be as well.
What are the first signs of puberty?
So although the timing of puberty can be different for every person, the sequence of changes are much more predictable. There is a usual pattern of changes that we can expect.
We can expect emotional and physical changes that will prewarn us that puberty is on it’s way.
Emotional signs of puberty
If I had a dollar for every time a parent told me their daughter was starting to get quite moody lately, I would be wealthy!
So a change in moods can be one of the earliest signs that puberty has started.
And this happens thanks to the fact that the body is starting to produce hormones, and we all react differently to hormones.
Some kids will have a stronger reaction which means that their mood swings will be much more dramatic!
But for some kids, you may not notice a change in mood at all!
Physical signs of puberty
The physical signs of puberty in female children are a lot easier to spot! And possibly even easier to live with, once you get over the initial shock of realising that their childhood is being left behind.
You’ll start to see physical changes anywhere between the ages of 8 to 14. And remember everyone is different – some kids will be earlier or later than their friends. And some may have changes in a slightly different order!
Usually, before anything else, you’ll notice that they have gone up a shoe size or two. So you can expect their feet and hands to have a growth spurt.
The next signs of puberty in female bodies that you’ll see will be the start of breast growth ie their breasts will begin to bud.
This means that small lumps the size of a blueberry or marble will develop directly beneath your child’s areola and nipple. You will probably notice this under their clothing or when you see them naked. Most kids will start to become more self-conscious as their body changes, so you might notice that they are no longer parading around the house naked.
Their body shape will also begin to change with their hips, thighs and bottom becoming wider and more rounded. They will also start to gain weight as their body begins to grow. The amount of fat tissue in their body will increase by around 125%. This means that a quarter of their body weight will end up being fat. You may notice stretch marks, or little scars, where the skin is pulled from growing fast. Over time, these will usually fade.
At the same time, the first pubic hairs will appear. Pubic hair can sometimes start before breasts for some kids, so don’t be alarmed if this happens to your child. They will start off being fine, soft and straight. It isn’t until later that they become darker, curlier and thicker like the pubic hair that parents have. Their hair may also start to thicken on their lower legs.
Some kids may be aware of a change in regards to how their vagina feels. They may start to notice white or yellow patches of dried secretion on their underpants or feel the sensation of liquid dripping out of their vagina (deposit). This vaginal discharge is all normal, and due to the hormone oestrogen.
But don’t stress, you’ll usually have a few years yet until their period starts.
And there are a few more signs of puberty in females that have yet to appear.
There are still some changes that have to happen before her first period – they’ll have a growth spurt and be a lot taller and curvier, their breasts will have started to grow properly, they’ll have more adult-like pubic hair and some underarm hair, and more vaginal discharge.
There are many fantastic books that can help you to start having those first conversations with your child.
Hair in Funny Places is a great first book for talking about puberty. It is a funny and enjoyable story to read. It is one that you can start reading to your kids from about the age of 5 or 6. This then helps to plant the seeds early about the fact that one day their body will begin to change, meaning they won’t find it a big shock when puberty finally arrives.
When it comes to puberty books, there are 3 types.
The first type of books is the ones that are written for younger kids who are either curious or are starting to show early signs of puberty. These books just talk about puberty and avoid the topic of sex. You can find examples of these puberty books for younger kids here.
The second type of books are for kids who are a little bit older, and these books are beginning to talk about sex. You can find examples of these puberty books for slightly older kids here.
The third type of books are for older kids who are already showing signs of puberty, are teenagers and curious about sex. These books are almost sex manuals and they provide a lot of information about sex. You can find examples of these types of puberty books for teenagers here.
If you’re unsure about how to start talking to your child, Puberty Girl – How to talk about puberty and sex with your tween girl, will help you to get started. It is a straightforward common-sense guide that doesn’t just tell you what to talk about, but how to start saying it.
So, these are the signs of puberty in girls (or kids with a female body) that you should be looking out for, the ones that you can expect to find before they have their first period. Once you begin to see these, you’ll know that puberty is well and truly, on it’s way.
And hopefully, you’ll start talking before too many more changes have happened.
Resources to help with talking about puberty
My mission is to create resources that will help you to naturally talk to your kids about sex, all while respecting your personal values.
Which means that inside this website, you’ll find lots of resources to help you with talking to your child about puberty.
My Puberty 101 page includes all of the information on puberty. You’ll find lots of different blog posts to help with talking to your child about growing up.
You’ll find videos about puberty in my Sex Education Videos resource page that you can watch with your child or to learn more about puberty yourself.
You’ll also find an extensive range of children’s books on puberty, for kids of all ages.
If you get stuck and feel that you need some extra support with talking to your child about puberty, then my book, The Parents’ Guide to Puberty, may be helpful. It’s a straightforward common sense guide that will help you to start having honest conversations that will guide your child through puberty, and strengthen your relationship without feeling embarrassed, awkward or nervous.
Or maybe you’re looking for a video course to sit down and watch together with your child. My friend Rowena from Amazing Me has created a fantastic 2 part interactive course for parents/carers to attend together with their 9 to 12 year old. It’s fun, educational and age-appropriate! You can learn more about her puberty course here.
If you have a child who is expecting their first period, then you may want to consider period pants. Period pants are fantastic for kids who are worried that they won’t know that their period has started until it stains through their clothing for the world to see. My favourite brand for tweens and teens is ModiBodi, as they are good quality and quite absorbent.
If you need some help with explaining sexual intercourse to your child, then How to Talk to Kids About Sex will help you explain sex to your child in a way they will understand. It breaks sex down into simple steps that take the stress out of explaining!
If you’re unsure about how to answer your child’s questions about sex, then I have the perfect book for you! The Sex Education Answer Book will give you age-specific answers to the most common questions kid’s ask parents about sex. Which means you don’t need to worry about finding a child-friendly explanation that your child understands.
And if you get stuck, feel free to get in touch! You can contact me here.
- A Blessing Not a Curse: A Mother-Daughter Guide to the Transition from Child to Woman by Jane Bennett. 2002. Sally Milner Publishing Pty Ltd. Bowral.
- Adolescence and Puberty. Edited by John Bancroft and June Machover Reinisch. 1990. Oxford University Press. New York.
- Gender Differences at Puberty. Edited by Chris Haywood. 2003. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge.
- Handbook of Child and Adolescent Sexuality: Developmental and Forensic Psychology. Edited by Daniel S. Bromberg and William T. O’Donohue. 2013. Elsevier. Academic Press. Oxford.
- Puberty: Physiology and Abnormalities by Philip Kumanov and Ashok Agarwal. 2016. Springer International Publishing. Switzerland.