When do girls stop growing? Puberty varies for each person. Learn about puberty, precocious puberty, late bloomers and the signs your daughter has reached full maturity.
As a pediatric dietitian, I’ve seen a wide range of normal growth and development among girls. My own three daughters started and ended puberty at different times. I, myself, was what many would call a “late bloomer.”
What’s true is this: Puberty is the second fastest period of growth in your child’s lifetime. Girls will grow at a faster pace between ages 10 and 14 and most girls will stop growing by age 15.
Of course, all of this is variable. Some girls will go through puberty earlier and some will enter it later. Generally, by age 15 or 16, girls will be at their final, or adult height.
In this article, we’ll explore the norms of puberty in girls, some of the signs of the growth spurt, and how to know when girls stop growing.
Puberty Definition: When Do Girls Start and Stop Growing?
Puberty is the time of life when the sexual organs develop, at the end of which, complete adult maturation is achieved.
Generally, puberty begins between ages 8 and 13 years in girls, and 9 and 14 years in boys.
The timing of puberty may reflect nutritional status, genetics, general health, exercise and the effect of environmental chemicals.
Puberty is occurring earlier in children, by about 12 to 18 months, according to a 2019 review in Frontiers in Pediatrics.
Why is Puberty Happening Earlier?
The reasons for early puberty are varied, and not fully explained. Some experts believe weight status and the prevalence of extra, unhealthy weight instigates early puberty, especially in girls.
A higher body fat (ie, high BMI) may lead to earlier puberty and maturation, but the reasons why body fat composition triggers this early development is not clear.
Other experts suggest the presence of endocrine-disrupting chemicals, such as those found in pesticides, may be at play. These chemicals may interfere with hormone activity like estrogens and shift puberty timing.
Genetic tendencies will influence the onset of puberty, too. For example, if you were an “early bloomer,” your child may be one, too.
Normal Puberty Progression in Girls
The Tanner Scale is used to determine normal progression of puberty. Your pediatrician uses this to document and track the developing characteristics of sexual maturation, such as the presence and size of breasts.
In girls, pubertal development marches on with breast buds appearing first, followed by pubic and underarm hair growth. Height then accelerates, followed by the start of menses (or the first period).
As a parent, you may not notice the details of development. It may seem like it’s all happening at once!
Precocious Puberty in Girls
Precocious puberty is defined as puberty before age 8, or before what is considered normal timing (8-13 years) and includes the following signs:
- Breast buds before age 8
- Increased height growth and skeletal maturity
- Enlargement of the ovaries and uterus
- Increased levels of hormonal levels
What is Pubarche?
The presence of pubic hair (called pubarche) before age 8 is a form of incomplete puberty. About 3% of children will have early pubic hair. And, studies show that 10-20% of these girls may be carrying extra weight.
Other signs of premature pubarche include:
- Underarm hair
- Oily skin and hair
- Adult body odor
Late Puberty (Constitutional Delay) in Girls
Late puberty is defined as the absence of breast development by age 13 in girls.
Delayed height growth is a common cause of delayed puberty and can be caused by inadequate nutrition, as well as hormonal imbalances.
Be sure to follow your child’s growth chart and discuss any dips or stalls in height growth with your pediatrician. You may need to pay attention to nutrition more closely, or use other ways to support your girl’s growth spurt.
What Happens During Puberty for Girls?
There’s a lot of changes happening during puberty for girls. Growing ends when puberty and full maturation is complete. Let’s look at some of the transitions.
Average Girl Height Based on Age
I’m always asked about how tall a girl will get. Girls will experience their greatest rate of growth generally starting after breasts begin to develop and 6 months before they get their period, according to the AAP.
Once the period starts, height growth begins to slow down. Your daughter may gain another inch or two after her period begins, but much more than that is uncommon.
I decided to translate the growth chart into the average girl height based on age throughout puberty.
I’m also giving a range of the height variance from the 5%ile to the 95%ile. Remember, you can get a good idea of how your daughter is growing by following her growth chart.
The earliest sign of puberty is the development of breast buds, or small bumps under the nipple. Development can begin in one breast or the other, or simultaneously. Breasts can be tender during this stage. This is all considered normal.
Body Hair Growth
Hair begins to grow in the pubic area, on the legs and in the armpits. About 15% of girls will see hair growth in the genital area before the development of breast buds (a sign of premature pubarche, as noted above).
The First Period
Many girls will get their first period about 2 to 3 years after the initial signs of puberty (breast bud development). In the US, the average age of starting the first period is 12 ½ years.
Emotions & Moodiness
Of course, all of the above changes mean that hormone fluctuations are in full force. You may see some moodiness and emotional outbursts. Again, all of this is normal.
While you may recognize these changes, your daughter may be confused.
My co-author of Fearless Feeding, Maryann Jacobsen, has a new book out for girls called My Body’s Superpowers. I encourage you to read it with your daughter or give it to her so she can learn how her body is changing and better relate to the process.
When Do Girls Stop Growing?
You’ll see the ultimate signs of maturation and complete growth when your daughter reaches Tanner V, between ages 12 ½ and 18.
You’ll see the following signs:
- Maturation of breasts
- Adult pubic hair distribution
- A regular period
Full adult height is reached, as well.
Has your girl stopped growing? Where is she in her development?
Need More Help?
You may find the following additionally helpful:
Written by: Jill Castle, MS, RDN
Published on: July 31, 2019
Updated on: October 12, 2019