Developing breasts is one of the biggest milestones in the eyes of preteen and teen girls. Breast development is part of the process of puberty that girls go through, but it happens at different ages. If your daughter is one of the last of her friends to grow cleavage, reassure her with the facts about normal breast development. It will help ease her fears and give her something to look forward to in the months to come.
Normal Breast Development
Your daughter's breast development begins before she's even born. When she's born, your daughter is already in stage 1 of her breast growth and has her nipples. As she grows, the breast tissue will also grow and she'll go through stage 2 and small buds will form on her chest. As your daughter starts puberty, her ovaries will start producing estrogen, which encourages the milk ducts to start growing larger, which is stage 3 in her breast development. Stage 4 occurs when the nipple on your daughter's breasts become raised and stage 5 is when the growth process is over and her adult breasts have formed.
When It Happens
Girls go through these stages at different rates, according to the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Standford, so your daughter might develop sooner or later than her peers. Most girls begin puberty from 8 to 13 years of age, but most girls don't begin growing breasts until they are 10 to 11 years of age, according to the Center for Young Women's Health. In some cases, girls don't start developing breasts until one or two years after that, however. The entire breast development process takes three to five years.
Once your daughter's breasts begin developing, she might have some concerns about what's normal and what's not. Most girls' breasts aren't the same size so one of her breasts might look slightly larger or smaller than the other, and that's normal. If your daughter grows hair around her nipples, reassure her that that's normal, too. Your daughter might also worry that her breasts are too small or too large compared to her friends. When it comes to breast size, reassure your daughter that her breasts are normal for her.
When to Worry
If your daughter reaches her teen years and her breasts don't begin developing, you should make an appointment with her pediatrician. In most cases, she's just a late-bloomer and she'll catch up to her peers before too long. In other cases, hormonal disorders could be affecting her body's ability to go through puberty and that can affect her breast development. For example, if your child has a growth hormone deficiency, her body doesn't produce the hormones necessary for growth, which will affect her when she enters puberty.