Q. When is it normal for a boy's voice to change? My son is 10, and his voice is getting deeper every day.
A. "It's a very variable process," says pediatrician Bonnie Miller, associate director of general pediatrics at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola. "Puberty will begin as early as age 9. Generally with the advent of puberty, the voice box changes."
The normal range for puberty is between ages 10 and 15, with the average being 12 to 13, Miller says. As testosterone kicks in, the vocal cords thicken, deepening the tenor of the voice. "It usually is fairly gradual," she says, and you may notice the "cracking" of your son's voice along the way.
Your son may notice other changes that go along with the voice deepening, such as an enlargement of the testicles, lengthening of the penis, and hair in the underarm and genital areas. "As the voice box changes, the Adam's apple may begin to protrude a little bit," Miller says.
A parent should be concerned, however, if a child's voice begins to deepen before age 9, Miller says. That could be a sign of early puberty, and the child should be examined by a doctor.
Girls, incidentally, don't experience the same intensity of voice change during puberty. "Girls' voices change a little bit, but it's not as significant," Miller says. "They may get a little bit deeper, but you won't notice it the way you do with a boy."