Girls are entering puberty at younger and younger ages. When your daughter is still playing with stuffed animals the last thing on your mind is talking to her about puberty. What should you be looking for in your tween daughter to know if she’s ready for the talk?

The onset of puberty in girls happens on average around the age of 11, but signs can appear as early as 7 or 8. In most cases, early puberty -- precocious puberty -- is a variation of normal development. Heading into puberty earlier than her peers can be difficult for a young girl. Paul Kaplowitz, M.D., Ph.D. says, "We still have a lot to learn about how early puberty affects girls psychologically." In some cases there may be a medical reason, so it's best to check with your doctor if your daughter shows signs of puberty before age 7 or 8. The signs are subtle at first, but here are five to watch for in your daughter.

Breast development

The first sign of puberty in girls is usually breast development, or breast buds. The nipple area darkens and enlarges, and breast tissue begins to form a small mound underneath. Breast buds can appear quite suddenly, which can be a surprise for unprepared girls (and mothers). Help your daughter shop for a training bra or sports bra, which will help her feel more comfortable with this new development.

Pubic or underarm hair

The second sign of puberty is usually pubic hair, followed by underarm hair. The appearance of body hair may be bothersome for some girls, especially if they are dark-haired. Show your daughter how to shave her underarms properly if it bothers her.

First period

There is a wide range of ages at which girls have their first menstrual period, generally from ages 8 to 16. Menstruation generally begins two years after breast development. If you talk to your daughter about getting her first period when you first notice signs of breast development, she won't be caught off-guard when it happens.

Acne

Blame hormones for the increase in oil production that causes pimples to form in puberty. Start your adolescent daughter on a good skin-care routine early, to help her manage the changes to come.

Body odor

You may be surprised when your previously sweet-smelling baby turns into a foul-smelling adolescent during puberty. Try not to bring unwanted attention to the body odor, but talk privately with your child about the need for daily bathing and deodorant use.

Keep in mind^ By helping your daughter understand what to expect when puberty arrives, you can take away the confusion from this exciting time in her life.

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Topics: puberty

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