When Do Girls Stop Growing?

You may know when puberty starts, but when does it end?

Three cheerful teenage girls arm in arm

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When your daughter (or child assigned female at birth) was a baby or toddler, growth spurts were kind of a big deal. Not only they did make your baby unusually grumpy or fussy, these periods of growth also caused them to become hungrier, and even messed with their sleep.

As they got older, though, growth spurts happened more gradually. You might not have even noticed how much your child was growing. All you knew was that sometimes they needed a new pair of jeans because theirs keep getting too short.

But once your child began puberty, the rapid changes started all over again. They likely shot up four inches in one year, and at this rate, you’re probably spending a lot of money sizing up on everything from jeans to shoes.

So when is this stage going to end? There’s no definitive age when all girls stop making the huge leaps and bounds associated with puberty growth, but there are some benchmarks to keep an eye on.

When to Expect Growth Spurts

Most girls have a major puberty-related growth spurt around the age of 11, although the exact age can be pretty variable. Hitting puberty before the age of 8 is out of the ordinary, as is not experiencing any puberty changes by age 15 or 16. 

The sweet spot is right there in the middle around age 11. Girls typically start puberty a year or two before they get their first period and the average age for a girl in the U.S. to get her first period is 12.

Here's what typically happens in this first growth spurt:

  • Height skyrockets. Girls may grow between two and three inches per year until menstruation occurs, which marks the end of this rapid height growth.
  • Breasts start to develop. This can be a slow process, beginning with small breast buds and darkened areolas, and advancing, eventually, to larger breast growth and protruding nipples.
  • Pubic and underarm hair begins to grow. This hair may be light, fine, or sparse at first, but will slowly grow in more and darken as your daughter ages.
  • Reproductive organs grow. Your daughter’s vulva and labia will increase in size and her internal organs—like the vagina and uterus—will grow, too.
  • Acne, sweating, and body odors increase. Changing hormones, like estrogen and progesterone, can cause the skin to become oilier or more easily clogged. This can lead to their first acne breakouts, plus an increased amount of sweating, and body odor.
  • Irritability or mood swings show up. Again, changing hormones can make girls prone to intense emotions that change at the drop of a hat. Just like when you’re pregnant or premenstrual, these hormonal shifts are normal—and there’s not much you can do, as a parent, except ride them out. There are also usually social pressures at this age that are stressful, and your daughter may be seeking some real independence from you that can cause emotional friction.
  • Foot size changes. This is actually one of the early signs of puberty in girls—two studies, one from 2009 and one from 2011, suggest that feet may be one of the first body parts to experience a puberty-related growth spurt. While your daughter’s shoe size may begin increasing as early as 8 or 9, they may be close to adult size by around 12 years old. 

After this initial growth spurt, a second smaller one usually happens after girls start menstruating. They may grow another one to three inches, but that typically signals the end of their physical growth (i.e. they’ve usually reached their adult height by this point).

By age 16, the average height of girls is about five and a half feet. 

Breasts can either stop growing at this point, too, or may continue growing slightly for another few years. 

Factors That Can Impact Growth

Hormones aren’t the only factor that affects puberty. Everything from family genetics to diet to illness can expedite or delay puberty. 

Nutrition and Weight 

What we eat plays a part in how well our bodies grow, so if your child doesn’t get adequate nutrients or is otherwise malnourished, they may not grow along the same curve as peers.

Being overweight or having above-average body fat can cause a girl to go through puberty at an earlier age. On the flip side, being underweight or having too little body fat (a common occurrence for very active children or young athletes) can delay puberty.

Genetics 

Kids inherit some of their height from their parents, so no matter how healthy your child is, they may not be able to outgrow their own genes. If you and/or your partner are shorter or taller than average, this can determine the overall curve of your daughter’s growth, too.

And of course, there are some genetic conditions—such as Down syndrome and Marfan syndrome—which commonly cause a shorter or taller stature, respectively.

Hormone-Related Conditions 

Both the thyroid and pituitary glands are responsible for regulating hormones associated with the onset of puberty. If your daughter’s thyroid levels are low or the pituitary gland isn’t functioning correctly, they may not release the hormones needed to start puberty (or may not generate enough of them to cause significant growth spurts).

Chronic Illness 

A few chronic illnesses, like juvenile arthritis, cystic fibrosis, and diabetes, are also known to slow growth in pubescent kids. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can also affect growth for a multitude of reasons.

How to Know When They Are Done Growing

There isn’t a magical test you can give your daughter to determine whether or not they are done growing, but there are some typical signs. 

  • Growth has slowed considerably over the last one to two years.
  • They have started menstruating within the last one to two years.
  • Pubic and underarm hair have grown in fully. 
  • They look more adult-like, as opposed to having a child-like stature;. Breasts and hips are fuller and rounder, genitals are fully developed, and they may have lost some of the more “babyish” features, like a round face or dimples.

What to Do If They Aren't Growing

All children develop on their own timeline, but if your daughter hasn’t gotten their period or shown any other signs of hormonal development by age 15, you should make an appointment with your pediatrician or family doctor. The delay could be a sign of a medical condition, hormone imbalance, or malnutrition. 

Before age 15, though, try to be patient, as there is a wide range of “normal” when it comes to puberty.

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Article Sources
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  1. Kids Health. Talking to your child about periods. Last reviewed October 2018.

  2. Cleveland Clinic. Puberty: Is your daughter on track, ahead or behind?. 2018.

  3. Ford KR, et al. Early markers of pubertal onset: height and foot sizeJ Adolesc Health. 2009;44(5):500-501.

  4. Busscher I, et al. The value of shoe size for prediction of the timing of the pubertal growth spurtScoliosis. 2011;6:1.