For almost 80 percent of all girls, breast development is the first sign of puberty. It's the beginning of an exciting (and potentially aggravating) time for daughters and their parents. You may have questions about how to support your daughter through this time. Here is some key information about breast development for parents of young girls:
Early breast development. Breast development can start as early as 8 years old or as late as 13 years old, so there is a very wide range of what is normal in terms of timing. Your daughter's first breast buds should generally appear at a similar age as her mother's or her sister's. If her dad had especially early or late puberty, then her development might reflect that. Breast buds can be tender and if wearing a bra doesn't provide enough support, ibuprofen can help.
Breasts and self-esteem. Girls that have breast development either earlier or later than their friends may feel uncomfortable with their bodies and might be teased. As a parent, you can bolster your daughter's self-esteem by reassuring her that all is normal. Paying a visit to her health-care provider to have another adult explain this to her can also help. Your health-care provider will follow your daughter's breast development on routine check-ups using Tanner Staging—a scale where Tanner 1 describes no development or childlike breasts, while Tanner 5 breasts are those of a fully developed woman.
Breast size inconsistencies. It is not unusual for one breast to be larger than the other. In the majority of girls, the other side will "catch up." In the meantime, specialty bra shops often have inserts to put in the cup of the bra on the side of the smaller breast. If one breast seems to be growing quickly, consult with your health care provider.
Bras. A girl should get her first bra when she develops breast buds. The first bra is generally a "training bra," which helps provide support and comfort. If breast development happens at a younger age, a girl may not be thrilled to wear a bra and might even be resistant if she is the first among her friends to have one. You can make shopping for the first bra with your daughter a positive experience by combining a bra purchase with another piece of clothing your daughter really wants (go ahead and splurge on the jeans, mama!) or doing something fun together ... a movie, lunch or ice cream.
If your daughter participates in sports, wearing a sports bra will provide comfort and support. All cotton bras are an excellent option if your daughter sweats a lot because there is less chance of developing rashes.
For a small group of girls, breasts may become so large that they cause back discomfort. Buying a bra at a specialty bra shop with experienced fitters may be the answer. If this does not work, then ask your health care provider about other measures. Breast surgery is rarely done on girls under 18 years of age. (Conversely, breast augmentation or other cosmetic surgery involving the breasts is usually not an option until age 18, unless a young woman is born with a deformity of the chest or breasts.)
If your daughter does not have breast buds but wants to wear a bra because her friends are, there is no harm in her wearing a training bra. One of the key aspects of the preteen psyche is to fit in ... and a training bra is a harmless way to do it!
Breast development and the onset of puberty. Periods usually happen within two years of breast development. So, if you haven't already, when your daughter starts wearing a bra is a great time to begin talking about other issues surrounding puberty, such as pubic hair, periods, puberty in boys, etc.report abuse