Ask Dr. Marla: What do I do with my 12-year-old asking for a bra?

By Dr. Marla Shapiro on June 13, 2013
My 12-year-old daughter is asking me for a bra. I’m not sure what to do. Please help.

Answer:

This is a question that really speaks to your daughter’s self-esteem. Age 12 is a typical time for a girl to ask for a bra and for me, if she is asking, then the answer is yes. It is terrific she feels comfortable talking to you about her changing body and needs. So-called training bras are available in most stores where underwear is sold. Go with her to try some on and make a day of it.

While the rate of breast development will vary from girl to girl, typically it happens over three to five years with some girls starting as early as age eight or as late as 13.

Here are the expected rates of breast development, as described in the medical literature as Tanner classification of five different stages:
  • Stage one - Preadolescence. Breasts are flat and only the tip of the nipple is raised.
  • Stage two - Breast buds appear, breast and nipple are raised, fat tissue begins to form and the areola enlarges.
  • Stages three and four. Further growth and development of a darker areola.
  • Stage five. The mature adult breast, which is rounded and only the nipple is raised.

Got a health question? Submit it to Dr. Marla.

Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, July 2013.

By Dr. Marla Shapiro| June 13, 2013

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