The changes that a girl goes through on her path towards womanhood are both subtle and dramatic. Some changes seem to happen overnight while others take years to unfold. The child development expert, Professor James M. Tanner developed a scale to track the progression and features of puberty. These serve as general signposts of puberty, even though each person’s development is unique.
The Tanner Stages
Stage 1 – Prepubescent
In this stage the body is making preparations for puberty, but no outward changes are showing. The pituitary gland begins making hormones that will influence reproductive glands. This typically begins soon after the 8th birthday.
In this stage the beginnings of physical changes can be noticed. Little “buds” of breast tissue start to form under the nipple. The areola begins to darken and pubic hair begins to show on the outside of the vulva. This stage typically begins between 9 and 11 years old.
In this stage the changes begin to be more noticable. Height growth accelerates to an average of 3.2 inches a year. Breast tissue continues to develop. Pubic hair becomes denser and underarm hair begins making an appearance. Fat begins to collect around the hips and thighs. The initial struggles with acne may appear. This stage typically begins after 12 years of age.
In this stage girls are continuing to experience many changes. Breast development moves out of the bud stage and the shape becomes more round and fuller. Pubic hair continues to get denser. The first period usually arrives during this time. This stage typically begins between 12 and 14 years old.
This stage signals the beginning of the end of puberty. Pubic hair fills out completely and the breasts have reached adult size. Girls will reach their full height about 1 to 2 years after their first period. This stage typically begins around 15 years old and is usually completed by 18 years old.
It must be noted that these milestones are what is “typical” and your child’s progression may be different. If your daughter is experiencing puberty signs earlier than 8, you may want to schedule a visit. If she has not begun showing signs of puberty by 14, you should make an appointment to discuss. We are currently (as of this writing) accepting new patients. If you are looking for a new holistic pediatrician, we would love to talk to you.