Will my son catch back up after his growth spurt?

Last updated on January 20, 2023



My son started to show downy pubic hair (about 5-10 strands and blonde) right after he turned 12. At 13.3 yrs old his genitals swelled, followed by his penis a few months later with dark pubic hair.  Is it normal to see some hair before genital enlargement? 

I’m starting to see a couple of downy armpit hairs under one arm. He has always been around the 78-80 percentile and 2nd-3rd tallest in his grade for height. Then his normal growth rate dropped when he hit 12 years old but he seems to have started growing faster this last year. Is this normal?

He wears a size 10 shoe, which grew rapidly to 11.5 when he was 12.5 years old.  His appetite has picked up very noticeably in the last month. He just turned 14 this month. He is very very active in sports year-round and is not on any medication. 

His age and height over time: 

  • 11 years old – 4’11
  • 12 years old – 5’0
  • 13 years old –  5’1.5
  • 14 years old –  5’4

His tanner stage says 2.9. Is this accurate? 

Would you say he is a late bloomer? Will he return to the 80-85% percentile range in height again after his growth spurt?  

Thanks for your wisdom.


From your description, it sounds like your son was in stage 2 between ages 12 and 13. He is currently at the start of stage 3. The average age to start stage 3 is 13.5, so he is only slightly behind the average. A late bloomer would be a boy who shows no signs of development before the age of 14.

While growth follows an overall pattern, there is variation between individuals. The initial swelling of the scrotum is not easily detected because the size difference is not that great. I suspect your son’s scrotum did swell prior to the hairs being noticed, but the hairs are more obvious. Everything you described about his growth is normal.

At age 11-12, your son was at the 60th percentile for height. At age 13, he dropped to the 50th percentile. At age 14, he is at the 40th percentile. However, all of this is expected because he is slightly behind the average age for reaching stage 3. To get estimates on his adult height, you can use the calculators at Predicting Your Adult Height.