It's no secret that girls tend to mature faster than boys, but this biological difference usually isn't noticeable until after the age of 10.
"If you look at the growth chart for both boys and girls, there's a smooth, steady slope until they reach 11 to 14 years, which is when most kids get into the pubertal stage," says Danton Kono, M.D., pediatrician with Dignity Health Mercy Medical Group in California.
Girls start and end puberty earlier than boys, and reach their maximum height potential during that time frame, typically well before high school graduation. It can take some boys into their college years to achieve their permanent height. "Girls can enter pubertal development as early as age 8, whereas boys might be 9 or 10 years old if they're on the early end," says Dr. Kono.
At What Age Do You Stop Growing?
The timing of puberty plays a pivotal role in answering the question of "when do girls stop growing in height?" That's because the age at which a girl reaches adult height depends on when she started her first period.
The beginning signs of female puberty, including breast development, body hair growth, and discharge, are indicators that your daughter may soon begin to grow in height faster than she has before. Girls who are going through puberty typically experience a growth spurt after their breasts begin to develop, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, followed by their first period two to three years later.
Girls stop growing taller and reach their final adult height just two to two-and-half years after that first menstrual cycle.
Height Prediction for Girls
While there's no precise way to accurately determine how tall people will be once they start growing, there are two common methods pediatricians use to predict adult height for girls.
Most doctors use what's known as a "mid-parental height calculator" to predict adult height, though Dr. Kono says he isn't a fan of the method because "it's still very inaccurate." For this calculation, you take the girl's father's height and subtract 5 inches, then add that number to the girl's mother's height and divide that sum by 2. The resulting number, plus or minus 3.35 inches, is the predicted range of height the girl should reach.
"For example, if dad is 5'10" and mom is 5'5", you would take 5'10" minus 5 inches, that's 5'5", add it to mom's height and average the two, which is 5'5"—that's a prediction that their daughter should grow to be 5'5", give or take about 3 inches," explains Dr. Kono.
Dr. Zoltan Antal, chief of pediatric endocrinology at NewYork-Presbyterian Komansky Children's Hospital and Weill Cornell Medicine, uses a different method. For a child who's already going through puberty, he recommends finding her height percentile on a growth chart and following the corresponding curve.
Using the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) girls growth chart, for example, a 10-year-old girl who stands 54 inches tall (4'6") is in the 50th percentile for her age. Following that growth curve out, she should reach a height just over 5'4" no later than age 18.
When to See a Doctor
If your daughter seems far beyond or behind her peers in physical development, it may be time to talk to her pediatrician. Girls who don't show signs of breast development by age 13 and/or don't have their first menses by age 15 or 16 are considered delayed in puberty. On the flip side, a girl who's showing signs of puberty at 6 or 7 years old is experiencing early puberty.
"With either of those extremes, have her pediatrician take a look because there could be medical or endocrine (hormonal) problems causing early or delayed puberty," says Dr. Kono. Pediatricians can do a bone age X-ray in office to determine if your daughter is on track to reach average adult height.