Inside: As a parent, knowing what the stages of puberty in girls are, means that you can prepare and support your daughter as she goes through this important stage of life.
As a parent with a daughter who is on the cusp of puberty, awareness of the stages of puberty in girls is a handy thing to know.
Because by knowing what the stages of puberty in girls are, you can at least be prepared for what changes will be happening to your daughter. And prepare your daughter by talking about them before they even happen.
Especially when it comes to things like periods!
When we look at breaking puberty up into stages of development, we are often talking about the Tanner Scale. A British paediatric endocrinologist, James Tanner, developed the Tanner Scale in the mid-1900's to measure the stages of sexual development during puberty.
The Tanner Scale is still used today. Although puberty starts earlier in girls today, the sequence of changes that happen in girls is unchanged.
And don't forget that the timing of when these changes will happen to your daughter vary. Some girls can be earlier or later than others.
So what are the stages of puberty in girls?
PS I have tried to keep this post jargon-free but I have used the correct names for the private parts of the body ie the genitals. This article talks about the importance of using the correct terms when talking to kids about their private parts of their body.
You'll find more information about puberty in my Puberty 101 page.
(approximately between the ages of 8 and 11)
So what can you expect with the first of the stages of puberty in girls?
The first changes that will happen to your daughter are hidden as they are happening deep inside her body. The body will start to release hormones that will trigger the changes to start happening. The main hormone for girls is estrogen. It will begin to surge in your daughter’s body, making her ovaries grow much larger, but no changes can yet be seen outside her body.
You may notice a slight growth spurt where her hips and thighs begin to grow wider and slightly more rounded.
(approximately between 8 and 14)
So what can you expect with the second of the stages of puberty in girls?
Every girl is different, but the first visible sign of puberty that you will most likely see in your daughter is the development of breasts and then pubic hair. A small number of girls can be different and will develop pubic hair before breasts. This is completely normal and nothing to worry about.
Breast buds will develop and your daughter may feel a small lump behind her nipple. The nipples will be tender and elevated, and the area around the nipple, the areola, will increase in size.
Pubic hair may appear as a small amount of thin soft hair on the skin around the external genitals, on the mons pubis and the labia majora.
You may notice a growth spurt where she is a lot taller and is beginning to gain weight, with the body getting rounder and curvier. Her hands and feet will usually grow bigger as well.
As her sweat glands start to increase their production of sweat, she will now begin to produce body odour ie smell.
(approximately between 9 and 15)
So what can you expect with the third of the stages of puberty in girls?
Your daughter’s breasts will continue to grow, increasing in size and being more cone-shaped and pointy. Her nipple and areola will now be more obvious, becoming larger and darker. Her pubic hair will begin to grow coarser and darker, but there still isn’t a lot of it. She may also start to grow more hair on her lower legs.
Outside her body, her genitals will also begin to change and she may notice vaginal discharge for the first time. Some girls may have their first menstrual period, but it is usually light and not very regular.
Her body will still be growing and gaining weight and height.
(approximately from 10 to 16)
So what can you expect with the fourth of the stages of puberty in girls?
Your daughter’s breasts will continue to grow now with a fuller, more rounded adult shape. Her nipple and areola will become more obvious, becoming larger, darker and pointier. Her pubic hair will grow thick, curly and become coarser, taking on a more adult triangular pattern of growth. Underarm hair may now start to appear (some girls may already have underarm hair).
If they haven’t already started, then the first menstrual period should now start. Her period is likely to be irregular at first. Her vaginal discharge will usually become more frequent and in heavier amounts in the last few months leading up to her first period.
Her skin and hair may become oily.
Your daughter will continue to grow, and her hips will become rounder, but not at the same rate as before.
(approximately between 12 and 19)
So what can you expect with the fifth and last of the stages of puberty in girls?
This is the last stage of changes. Your daughter will now reach her full height and will look like a young adult. She will now be ovulating, which means that her menstrual period will be regular. Her breasts will be fully grown and her pubic hair will have an adult triangular pattern of growth. Her skin will be less oily, which usually means less pimples, except for the occasional one.
It is easy to get overwhelmed at the thought of talking about the stages of puberty in girls. A lot of parents feel the same way.
The book, Girl Puberty: How to talk about puberty and sex with your tween girl, was written to help parents to get started with talking about puberty. It tells parents everything they need to discuss and how to start talking about it. You can get a copy of it at Sex Ed Rescue.
There are also many books on puberty that will help you to talk about the stages of puberty in girls.
I'm Cath, a sex educator living in Australia with my husband and 2 kids. I help parents to talk about sex (with less cringe and more confidence) and empower their child to make smart sexual decisions. To find a better way to talk about sex, you can join my community of parents and visit my shop for helpful resources.