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From Tiny Buds to Boob Wonderland

Updated: Jun 5, 2023

A Parent's Guide to Breast Development in Tweens and Teens.

Greetings, fellow parents! As our little ones enter the rollercoaster ride of adolescence, we find ourselves on a wild journey through mysterious bodily changes. Today, we dive into the magical world of breast development in tweens and teens living in the UK. Buckle up, my dear comrades, as we share some parenting advice on breast development.

A Bloomin' Good Start:

Picture this: your once smooth-chested teenage girl/tween girl wakes up one morning to find teeny-tiny buds sprouting on their chest. Fear not, it's breast development! This is entirely normal and usually marks the beginning of their journey towards womanhood. Think of it as Mother Nature's way of saying, "Hey, I'm getting things ready for the grand show!"

Breast development, also known as thelarche, is a natural part of puberty in girls and varies greatly from person to person.

The growth and changes that occur in female breast development are usually described in the five stages of the Tanner Scale:

1. **Stage 1 (Prepuberty)**:

Breasts are flat except for the nipple.

2. **Stage 2 (Breast Bud Stage)**:

Small, coin-sized bumps, called "breast buds," form under the nipple as the breast and nipple raise slightly. These buds can sometimes be tender to the touch.

3. **Stage 3 (Teenage Years)**:

Breast buds continue to grow and expand. The breasts become rounder and fuller, and the areola (the area around the nipple) may darken and increase in size.

4. **Stage 4 (Mid to Late Teenage Years)**:

The breasts and the nipples continue to grow. The areola may form a secondary mound above the rest of the breast.

5. **Stage 5 (Late Teenage Years to Adulthood)**:

Breast development is completed. The breasts become fully round. The areola returns to the same level as the rest of the breast. This creates a single contour.

During development, it is normal for one breast to grow faster than the other. They may not end up the same size. The size of breasts can differ greatly between individuals. It is determined by various factors, such as genetics and body size.

Remember that these stages are just guidelines. Everyone's journey through puberty is unique, and these changes can happen at different ages and rates for different people. If there's concern about your teen's development, it's a good idea to consult with a healthcare provider.

teenage girl touching chest with heart shaped glasses green jumper pink background

All Shapes and Sizes:

Breasts, nipples and areolas, like people, come in all shapes and sizes. Some may resemble fluffy marshmallows, while others may resemble perfectly ripe peaches. It's important to emphasize that there is no "normal" when it comes to breast size. Remind your child that their unique pair of jubblies is absolutely fantastic, regardless of societal standards.

The Growth Spurt Spectacle:

Ah, the growth spurt! Brace yourself for some exciting changes. Breasts tend to grow at different rates for everyone, so don't panic if your child's blossoms take their sweet time. It's like waiting for a delightful soufflé to rise in the oven.

Just remember, patience is key, and eventually, their breasts will catch up with their enthusiasm for life.

Time and Timing:

Now, you may be wondering, "When will this bloomin' show begin?" Typically, breast development starts around 8 to 13 years of age, but hey, every chest has its own schedule. Encourage your child to embrace their personal timeline and let them know that their boobs will arrive fashionably late if needed. It's all part of the grand adventure.

When Things Go Awry:

While most breast development is perfectly normal, it's crucial to keep an eye out for any red flags. Notice any asymmetry, pain, or lumps on one side of your chest? It's time to get advice from a professional. Remember, we're not doctors, but the NHS website ( is an excellent resource to delve deeper and confirm any concerns.

While female breast development is a normal part of puberty, there can be conditions that need attention.

Here are a few common concerns:

1. **Asymmetrical Breasts**:

It's very common for one breast to grow faster than the other during puberty, creating temporary asymmetry. However, if the asymmetry persists into adulthood or is significantly pronounced, you may want to consult a healthcare provider.

2. **Breast Lumps**:

Many teen girls experience fibrocystic breast changes during their menstrual cycle, which can cause benign (non-cancerous) breast lumps. It is common for teens to find lumps that are usually harmless. However, if your teen finds one, it is important to have it checked by a healthcare provider. This will help to rule out any other conditions.

3. **Breast Pain**:

Breast pain, or mastalgia, can occur due to hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle. Though it's usually nothing to worry about. The pain should be taken seriously if it is severe, continues after the menstrual cycle, or is in one area only. It is a good idea to seek medical advice.

4. **Inverted Nipples**:

Some teens have inverted nipples, which means the nipples are turned inward instead of pointing outward. It is normal for a teen's nipples to sometimes become inverted. However, if it happens suddenly, it is important to see a doctor. This will help to rule out any underlying conditions.

5. **Breast Discharge**:

Nipple discharge in a teen who isn't pregnant or breastfeeding can be alarming, but it's often due to hormonal changes. However, any nipple discharge should be evaluated by a healthcare provider.

6. **Early or Late Development**:

If your teen's breasts start developing earlier than around 8 years old, or there's no sign of development by the age of 14, it's worth discussing with a healthcare provider to rule out any hormonal imbalances or other medical conditions.

Remember, the NHS website is a reliable source for health-related information. However, it's always best to consult with a healthcare provider if you have any concerns about your teen's health.

Confidence Is Key:

During this marvellous journey, your child's self-esteem may need a little boost. Remind them that their body is their temple, and they are beautiful just as they are. Celebrate their milestones, whether it's buying their first bra or having a heart-to-heart chat about the wonders of womanhood. Confidence is the secret ingredient that makes every breast shine.

Getting a Bra Fitted:

Buying the first bra is an important milestone. It is crucial to ensure a proper fit in order to provide the right support and comfort. Here are some great places in the UK where you can have your teen fitted for a bra:

  1. Marks & Spencer: This iconic British store has a great selection of bras for teens. Their trained staff provide free fitting services in-store. Check out their range online:

  2. John Lewis is renowned for their quality products and excellent customer service. They provide a complimentary fitting service and a large selection of styles that are suitable for teenagers. Visit their website:

  3. Bravissimo is renowned for catering to those with larger bust sizes. However, they also provide an excellent fitting service for all sizes. Here's their website:

  4. Debenhams: Their trained staff can offer a free fitting, and they have a variety of options for young girls. Browse their selection online:

  5. Boux Avenue provides a wide range of teen bras. They also offer a free bra fitting service, both in-store and online. Check them out here:

Remember, it's always a good idea to check if you need to book an appointment for a fitting beforehand. Also, reassure your teen that bra fitting is a normal process and there's nothing to feel embarrassed about. It's all about comfort and getting the right support.

Dear parents, let us travel together through the exciting journey of our tweens' and teens' breast development. Let us stay positive and have a good sense of humour. From tiny buds to glorious bosoms, every step of this journey is a chance for open conversation, acceptance, and love.

Please note that this article serves as parenting tips and advice only. It's always best to get medical advice from a professional or a reliable source such as the NHS website. Together, let's embrace the quirks, the giggles, and the glorious adventure of breast development in our teens.

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