When Does Teenage Growth Spurt Happen?

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A teenage growth spurt is a phase characterized by a sudden increase in the teen’s height and appetite. This phase is marked by rapid changes in the body, and your teen’s height may grow rapidly for a few months and then slow down for the next few months. This cycle may continue for some years. A growth spurt is not just about physical changes but also hormonal, caused due to puberty. Therefore, a pubertal growth spurt may sometimes be overwhelming and difficult to handle. In such cases, teenagers may need parental support to get through the phase smoothly. This post discusses teenage growth spurt in detail and provides some tips on helping your child manage it efficiently.

In This Article

At What Age Does Adolescent Growth Spurt Begin?

The occurrence of teenage growth spurt may vary from one child to another. Some experience it early, while others may have it late. Yet, on average, a major growth spurt during puberty usually happens between 8 and 13 years in girls and 9.5 and 14 years in boys (1).

While this phase of rapid growth in most girls ends by 15 years of age, it may continue until 16 or 17 years in boys (2). However, exceptions exist, as some teens, especially boys, may continue to grow until 18 years.

It is crucial to track your child’s growth and overall development during teenage growth spurts. You may use a growth chart for this.

Teen Boy And Girl Growth Chart: Age-Wise Average Height

Teenage growth spurts usually happen between 8 and 13 years in girls

Image: Shutterstock

A growth chart is an assessment tool that compares your teen’s height and weight with the standard average height for a specific age. It can help keep track of your teenage boy’s or teenage girl’s general growth.

Average Height In Teenage Years

Age (years)50th percentile height for boys (cm)50th percentile height for girls (cm)
8128127.5
9133.5133
10138.5138
11143.5144
12149151
13156157
14164160.5
15170162
16173.5162.5
17175.5163
18176163

Note: 50th percentile height is the average or median height of a girl or boy. If your child is in the 50th percentile, it means that when 100 normal teens of their age and gender are compared, 50 teens are shorter, and 50 are taller than your child.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (3)

Research shows that the final height attainable by children is usually dependent on parental heights. In the graph below, the difference between a child’s height percentile and the target height percentile (based on his/her expected final height) is represented as the “height gap.”

Association between onset age of the pubertal growth spurt and height gap

Source: Association between the onset age of puberty and parental height; PLoS ONE

It shows that children showing a positive height gap (actual height percentile greater than target height percentile) have an early pubertal growth spurt (PGS), whereas children with a negative height gap show a delayed PGS.

What Causes Growth Spurt In Teens?

During adolescence, two sex hormones testosteroneiMale sex hormone required for the development of sexual and secondary sex characteristics, also found in females in trace amounts (in boys) and estrogeniA sex hormone responsible for the development of female sexual characteristics (in girls) cause a growth spurt. These sex hormones increase the human growth hormone secretion, which, in turn, causes an increase in mineralization of bones, leading to linear growth, i.e., an increase in height (4).

Signs Of Growth Spurt In Teenagers

You can identify growth spurt in your teenager if you observe the following signs.

  1. Feet outgrow the shoes: Your teen’s growth begins from the extremities and works its way in. Therefore, your teen will first experience growth-related changes in the hands and feet. Research studies suggest that frequent changes in shoe size are an early indicator of a growth spurt (5) Thus, make a note of changes in the sitting height, leg length, and shoulder width that may corroborate your assessment (6).
  1. New pants become short: If the teen complains about their new pants becoming short in a matter of months, it is likely due to a pubertal growth spurt. On average, a teenage boy could grow around three inches (7-8cm) a year during this period. The average gain in teenage girls is two to three inches (5-7.5cm) a year (7).
  1. Clothes get tight: Clothes would become tight around the waist and thighs. This change may occur due to fat gain before a growth spurt. However, it may accelerate during puberty, leading to an increased weight gain around the waist, hips, buttocks, and thighs for girls and around the belly for boys (8).
Clothes become tight around the waist during teenage growth spurt

Image: IStock

protip_icon Quick tip
Avoid buying expensive clothes during your child’s growth spurt. You can buy clothes that are slightly bigger as they will eventually fit into it.
  1. Prominent joints with big bones: Various joints in the body become bigger and more prominent. Some of the more obvious joints are the knees, elbows, and wrists.
  1. Increase in appetite:The tremendous physical and physiological changes during the pubertal growth spurt can increase their nutritional needs, and therefore, an increase in the teen’s appetite. The increase in appetite is more commonly observed in teenage boys than girls (9). Besides these prominent changes related to growth spurt, you may notice changes specific to puberty.
  1. Strong body odor: Puberty causes an increased production of adrenal androgens leading to body odor (10) The presence of body odor usually indicates a growth spurt, and in some cases, it is evident in children with delayed puberty (11).
  1. Change in voice: Research studies suggest that if a teen has developed a characteristic adult voice, it is likely that growth spurt is decelerating (12). However, more research is needed to validate the suggestion. A change in voice is more prominent in teen boys than girls.
  1. Changes in the skin: Skin changes during puberty include the appearance of facial hair, oily skin, acne, and pigmentation caused by hormonal changes (13). These changes may become intense during a growth spurt.
Teenage growth spurt includes the appearance of facial hair

Image: IStock

  1. Development of secondary sexual characteristics: Sexual maturation accelerates during the pubertal growth spurt. Some of the typical signs of sexual maturation are breast development, enlargement of testicles, and enhanced pubic hair distribution. These changes are not specific to growth spurts but are likely to be more noticeable around that phase.

All these changes, along with some other physiological changes, can have an impact on the teenager.

How Are Growth Spurts Diagnosed?

A child’s doctor tracks their height and weight during regular checkups using a scale and measuring tools. They may follow growth charts and child growth standards from the CDC and WHO to determine if a child is growing as expected compared to other children the same age. While a child’s height is to a large extent determined by the height of the parents, if the doctor notices a relatively high growth or a slow growth, they might monitor it closely over a few months. This helps determine if the reason is a health issue or if the change is just a normal variation (14).

How Does Growth Spurt Affect Teenagers?

The intense growth spurt phase of adolescent development can affect a teenager in various ways (15).

  1. Clumsiness: Growth spurt causes the bones to lengthen while the muscles and tendons are still catching up with the growth. This variation in development can cause a lack of coordination that may increase the risk of injury (16). Encourage your teen to stay physically active–it will help in muscle development and also minimize the risk of injuries.
  1. Growing pains: Teens might experience pain in the lower limbs due to rapid bone growth during the growth spurt. However, medical practitioners have different views on this (17). Some suggest that growing pain during adolescence could possibly occur due to a lack of or less physical activity.
  1. Reduced sleep: Teenagers might sleep due to a shift in their biological clock caused by hormonal changes (18) caused by hormonal changes. However, this may not always be the case, as some teenagers might sleep more. Social media addiction and being on the phone may be secondary reasons for irregular sleep patterns in teens.
Teenagers may have reduced sleep due to social media addiction

Image: IStock

  1. Frequent mood swings and irritable behavior: Mood swings and irritability are emotional changes that might occur due to stress and anxiety. Some common causes of stress/anxiety in teens are hormonal changes, sleep deprivation, peer pressure, and a struggle for freedom and control.
  1. Exploring sexual orientation: It is often seen that teenagers get increasingly aware of their sexual orientation and might indulge in sexual activity. There is also likely to be increased interest in concepts of sexual intimacy.
  1. Focus on their appearance: Teenagers can get more conscious about their appearance and body image. Physical appearance, social approval, and approval from the opposite gender could become crucial. This could lead to low self-esteem (if they are unable to get approval). Therefore, there could be an increased risk of developing eating disorders, such as anorexiaiAn eating disorder characterized by extreme weight loss and an intense fear of gaining weight and bulimiaiAn eating disorder characterized by binge eating followed by purging through methods such as vomiting or laxative use , especially in girls. Eating disorders can lead to stunted mental and physical growth in the long run.
  2. Social changes: Teenagers might experience social changes during this time, as they are concerned about their identity, independence, and responsibility. Moreover, many teenagers may actively seek out new experiences.
  3. Cognitive changes: The adolescent brain undergoes a lot of growth and development in the teenage years. These changes allow your teenager to develop critical skills like abstract thinking, advanced reasoning, and metacognition.

While undergoing these changes, your teenager needs your help and support in this crucial stage of their life.

Tips To Help Your Teenager

Here are some ways you can support your child.

  1. Have regular communication: Initiate conversations and encourage the teen to discuss their concerns. Your teen might hesitate to talk, but persistent efforts will bear results. You can also consult a counselor or an expert if needed.
  1. Do not be judgmental: Avoid passing any judgments. Some problems that they have might sound trivial, but have patience and help resolve them.
  1. Be a role model: If you wish to teach your child something, you should be a good role model. You cannot expect them to lead a healthy life if you aren’t doing the same.
  1. Serve healthy food: Good nutrition is the foundation of a healthy body and mind. Serve well-balanced, wholesome meals to your teen. Keep lots of fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods in the house. Eat with your teen and support them in developing healthy eating habits.
protip_icon Quick tip
You can consult a qualified nutritionist to advise you on the best foods your child can eat for their healthy physical and mental development.
  1. Let your teen be responsible: While eating out, let your teen make responsible choices. Discuss their health and diet concerns with a nutritionist.
  1. Encourage physical activity: Encourage your teen to do some physical activity regularly. Plan an outing together where you can indulge in activities, such as hiking, swimming, jogging, or walking. It will help them stay within a healthy weight range and boost their self-confidence.
  1. Avoid comparisons with peers: Avoid comparing your teen’s weight or height with their peers since such comparisons can have detrimental effects on their cognitive and social development. Besides, it can make them self-conscious.
  1. Do not be too pushy: Avoid being pushy, especially about sleep and wake up time. Therefore, let your child come up with a sleep and wake cycle. Help them sleep and wake up early, but do not push them to do it in a few days.
  1. Give your teen space: Giving space to your teen is important. It will help them have their independence while knowing that you have their back. Always keep the channel of communication open to display your love and support.
  1. Give them sex education: Adolescent sexuality is something that you should talk about with your teen upfront. Providing sex education to your teen not only resolves their curiosities but also makes them aware of various issues such as sexual activity and teenage pregnancy.

protip_icon Do remember
Teenage is a sensitive age and kids tend to get carried away easily. They do not have the maturity to discern between the right and wrong. So, always keep an eye on your child and know about their whereabouts and group of friends.

Nutrition During A Teen’s Growth Spurt

During the rapid growth phase of puberty, consuming a well-balanced and nutritious diet is crucial for ensuring proper growth and normal development. During early adolescence, boys may require 2,800 calories per day to support their growth and development, while girls may need 2,200 calories per day (19). Their growing bodies also need vitamins and minerals to grow well (20).

  • Protein: Protein is crucial for overall growth and helps in muscle development and repair. Choose lean proteins like legumes, nuts, soy, eggs, turkey, fish, and chicken. Meat is a good source of iron, which is especially important for girls who are menstruating.
  • Vitamin D and calcium: Calcium and vitamin D are important for strong and healthy bones. Eggs are a good source of vitamin D, while cheese, milk, yogurt, nuts, and leafy greens are good sources of calcium.
  • Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are a vital energy source. Excellent sources include starchy vegetables, whole grain breads, pasta, and cereals.

Note that consuming too much of certain proteins, fats, minerals, and vitamins might cause early puberty. On the other hand, not getting enough essential proteins, calories, fatty acids, and key nutrients like iron, zinc, and vitamin D can significantly slow down or delay the start and progress of growth and bone development during this important period of growth (21).

Growth Vitamins For Teenagers

Alongside a balanced diet, certain vitamins play crucial roles in facilitating this growth. Here are some essential vitamins that are particularly beneficial for a teenager’s growth (22).

  1. Vitamin A: It contributes to healthy night and color vision while also supporting regular growth, promoting skin health, and aiding in tissue repair.
  2. B vitamins: These are beneficial for promoting the production of new cells and supporting metabolism.
  3. Vitamin C: It aids in the production of collagen, a key component in the formation of teeth and bones as well as in the healing of wounds. Additionally, it enhances the immune system’s function.
  4. Folic acid: Particularly crucial during growth spurts, folic acid aids in metabolism and the production of new cells.

When To Consult A Doctor About Your Teen’s Growth Spurt?

Consult a doctor if your teen is growing at a significantly different pace than their peers

Image: IStock

The rate of growth spurt depends on several inter-twinning factors such as heredity, diet, exercise, and health issues. Nevertheless, there are specific cases where it is ideal to consult a doctor (23).

  1.  If you feel that your teen is growing at a significantly different pace than his or her peers.
  1. Unusually early onset of puberty. In medical terms, this condition is known as precocious puberty. A child with this condition will experience sexual development at an early age. For girls, it would be before the age of eight years, and for boys, it is before the age of nine years (24).
  1. A marked delay in growth or sexual development. Growth hormone deficiency is one of the causes of delayed puberty. The deficiency can cause the teen to have a short stature when compared to the average predicted height for their age (11).
  1. A sudden change in appetite that does not seem right.
  1. Body image problems where a teen believes that they are overweight when they are not. This case is usually more common in girls than in boys and can be a sign of an eating disorder.
  1. Signs of mental health concerns, such as depression, extreme mood swings, anxiety, hostility, and argumentative behavior.
  1. Poor academic performance, such as failing. Avoiding school and activities that your teen otherwise enjoyed.
  1. Use of drugs, alcohol, or tobacco.

Consulting a doctor can help in the timely detection of any medical issues.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do late bloomers grow taller?

Late bloomers with a delay in growth and puberty may continue growing for longer than their peers but will catch up to a normal height (25) (26).

2. What helps with teenage growth?

Teenage growth may be supported by a healthy intake of calcium, iron, and whole grains in their daily diet, along with regular physical exercises (27)

3. Can nutrition and diet affect the timing and extent of a teenage growth spurt?

Nutrition and diet are two of the most important factors that affect the onset of puberty and growth spurt. Sufficient nutrition intake and a well-balanced diet are essential for normal growth processes. If the child is overweight or obese, they possess a higher chance of entering puberty early due to excessive consumption of processed and high-fat foods (28).

4. How does a growth spurt affect a teenager’s body proportions?

When a teenager goes through a growth spurt, their legs will seem longer in proportion to the body than earlier. The child will also appear thinner as the size of the child’s body increases, but the body fat level remains relatively stable (29).

5. Does sleeping make a child taller?

Sleep is essential for teens’ overall health and well-being, including growth. However, a person’s growth is mainly influenced by genetics and hormones. While sleep aids in hormone release, factors like a balanced diet and genetics play vital roles in determining a teen’s height (30).

6. How long does a growth spurt last for a teenager?

Teenagers’ growth spurt usually begins around 10 for girls and 12 for boys, but it can differ for each person. Boys usually have a more intense and longer growth spurt than girls, leading to a difference in average height. This phase generally ends around 18-19 for girls and 20-22 for boys, marking the start of adulthood. However, about 10% of girls may have a small or no growth spurt (31).

7. What is the difference between growth spurts and developmental milestones?

Developmental milestones are specific goals and skills that children are expected to achieve as they grow and mature. These milestones include cognitive abilities, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, language skills, and social-emotional and behavioral development (32). A growth spurt, on the other hand, is a time when children grow quickly in height and weight, especially during adolescence (33).

8. Are growth spurts preventable?

Growth spurts are an essential part of a child’s development and cannot be avoided. It is important not to interfere with them because they occur naturally as the body determines the right time to grow in height and weight. Each child goes through these spurts at their own individual pace until they reach physical maturity. However, if your child is growing too fast or beyond the levels expected of their age, consult a doctor (34).

9. How should I calculate my child’s future height?

To estimate your child’s future height, you may use a simple formula based on the parents’ heights. For boys, add five inches to the father’s height, and then, add the mother’s height and divide the total by two. For girls, subtract five inches from the father’s height, add the mother’s height, and divide the total by two. This method gives a rough estimate of your child’s adult height (35). You may also try the height calculator given here.

The teenage growth spurt is when your children’s bodies undergo significant changes. These changes, such as a sudden growth in height, the development of sexual traits, mood swings, and other significant changes, can be overwhelming. Therefore, it’s important to educate children about this phase and the changes that come with it. Remember that each child is unique and will experience growth spurts at different ages. But if the deviation is drastic or abnormal, affecting their physical and emotional state, consult your child’s doctor to determine any underlying cause and seek timely help.

Infographic: Tips To Help Your Teenager During A Growth Spurt

Growth spurts are a part of a myriad of transformations that occur in teenage years. While some teens may have minor changes, others may experience changes at a greater intensity and for a longer duration. Here are some useful tips to prepare and help your teen handle a growth spurt.

support your teen in dealing with a growth spurt (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Key Pointers

  • Teenagers undergo physical and hormonal changes during growth spurts.
  • Major growth spurts typically occur between ages 8-13 for girls and 9.5-14 for boys during puberty.
  • Changing body size, increased appetite, and skin and voice changes are all indicative of growth spurts in teenagers.
  • Encourage your teen by suggesting healthy habits such as eating well, exercising, and open communication without judgment.
Teenage Growth Spurt_illustration

Image: Stable Diffusion/MomJunction Design Team

Are you noticing your teen growing taller? Check out this video to learn the 13 tell-tale signs that your teen is going through a growth spurt!

References

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.

1. The Growing Child: Adolescent 13 to 18 Years; Johns Hopkins Medicine
2. Your Child’s Growth; Kids Health, Nemours
3. Data Table of Stature-for-age Charts; Data Table of Stature-for-age Charts; CDC
4. Delemarre-van de Waal HA and van Coeverden SC; Hormonal determinants of pubertal growth.; National Center For Biotechnology Information
5. Iris Busscher et al.; The value of shoe size for prediction of the timing of the pubertal growth spurt; National Center For Biotechnology Information
6. Rao S and Joshi S; Growth in some physical dimensions in relation to adolescent growth spurt among rural Indian children.; National Center For Biotechnology Information
7. Stages of puberty: what happens to boys and girls; NHS
8. Weight changes in kids: Knowing when to act, what to say; Children’s Wisconsin
9. Lauren B Shomaker et al., Puberty and observed energy intake: boy, can they eat!; National Center For Biotechnology Information
10. Physiology, Puberty; National Center For Biotechnology Information
11. Delayed Puberty; National Center For Biotechnology Information
12. Hägg U and Taranger J.; Menarche and voice change as indicators of the pubertal growth spurt.;  National Center For Biotechnology Information
13. Parenting children through puberty; Victoria State Government
14. Growth and Your 13- to 18-Year-Old; Kids Health
15. Erin Morgan and Angela Huebner; Adolescent Growth and Development; Virginia State Government
16. Physical Development: What’s Normal? What’s Not?; Healthy Children; American Academy of Pediatrics
17. Growing pains; Victoria State Government
18. Sleep in Adolescents; Nationwide Children’s
19. A Teenager’s Nutritional Needs; Healthy Children; American Academy of Pediatrics
20. Nutrition and puberty: The best way to feed your child’s growth; Akron’s Children
21. Ashraf Soliman; Nutritional interventions during adolescence and their possible effects; National Center For Biotechnology Information
22. Pros and Cons of Teens Being on a Vitamin Regime; CHOC
23. Growth and Development, Ages 11 to 14 Years; University of Michigan
24. Precocious Early Puberty; Boston Children’s Hospital
25. What is Delayed Puberty?; Cincinnati Children’s
26. Short Stature; Children’s Mercy Kansas City
27. Your Teen’s Growth Spurt: How to Fuel It Right; University Hospitals
28. Ashraf Soliman et al.; Nutrition and pubertal development; National Center For Biotechnology Information
29. Physical Changes During Puberty; American Academy of Pediatrics
30. Does sleeping make you taller?; Sleep Foundation
31. Adolescent growth spurt; CARTA
32. Sevan S. Misirliyan, Annie P. Boehning, and Manan Shah; Development Milestones; National Center For Biotechnology Information.
33. Ashraf Soliman et al.; Advances in pubertal growth and factors influencing it: Can we increase pubertal growth?; National Center For Biotechnology Information.
34. When a Child is Abnormally Tall; American Academy of Pediatrics
35. What is a Growth Spurt During Puberty?; Johns Hopkins Medicine

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Dr. Atiqur Rahman Khan is an experienced senior neonatologist and pediatrician with over 20 years of experience. He has been working under the Ministry of Health at Maternity and Children’s Hospital Saudi Arabia for more than 15 years.

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Swati Patwal
Swati PatwalM.Sc. (Food & Nutrition), MBA
Swati Patwal is a clinical nutritionist, a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) and a toddler mom with more than a decade of experience in diverse fields of nutrition. She started her career as a CSR project coordinator for a healthy eating and active lifestyle project catering to school children.

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Dr. Joyani DasM.Pharm, PhD
Dr. Joyani Das did her post-graduation from Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra and PhD in Pharmacology. Previously, she worked as an associate professor, faculty of Pharmacology, for two years. With her research background in preclinical studies and a zeal for scientific writing, she joined MomJunction as a health writer.

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