Cara Natterson, M.D.
Pediatrician, consultant, and leading expert on puberty and adolescent health
About Cara Natterson
Cara Natterson, M.D. is a board-certified pediatrician and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. While practicing medicine at Tenth Street Pediatrics in Santa Monica, CA, Natterson cared for thousands of infants, children, and teenagers. She used this invaluable expertise as a launchpad to found Worry Proof Consulting, a first-of-its-kind practice that gave parents open-ended time to cover medical, behavioral, and parenting issues in depth. At the same time, Natterson began writing books for both parents and kids. For two decades she has traveled the country speaking at schools and corporations, for small private groups and on the main stage at book festivals and TEDx. She has consulted for several Fortune 500 companies including Disney and Mattel. Natterson’s unique ability to make the latest data understandable, actionable, and entertaining has made her a trusted expert in the field of “growing up” and led to found Order of Magnitude, the first company dedicated to flipping puberty positive.
Natterson is the doctor behind the beloved body book series The Care and Keeping of You (American Girl Publishing) with more than seven million copies in print. In 2017, she extended the series to boys, the first ever boy-oriented product for American Girl with the book Guy Stuff. Her 2020 parenting book Decoding Boys: New Science Behind the Subtle Art of Raising Son focused on the often overlooked aspects of male puberty, including why guys tend to get quiet and how to help them open up. In her latest book, This Is So Awkward: Modern Puberty Explained, she catalogues the shifts in puberty — starting with the fact that it now takes so much longer to get through it — in an effort to help adults become confident guides for today’s kids.
Natterson and her co-author Vanessa Kroll Bennett co-host The Puberty Podcast, a relatable, reliable dive into all the ways puberty has changed. The podcast has grown rapidly because it’s one of few go-to guides combining data with humor to help adults raise kids through this tricky stage of life. Natterson also provides expertise for numerous parenting websites and news sites, including the Washington Post, New York Times, The Atlantic, HuffPost, Scary Mommy, SheKnows Media, and many more. She has served on several boards, including: The Pad Project, Starlight Children’s Foundation, The Honest Company Board of Medical Advisors, and Baby2Baby.
Natterson is a graduate of Harvard College and Johns Hopkins Medical School. She trained in pediatrics at the University of California at San Francisco. She lives with her husband and their two teenagers in Los Angeles.
Cara Natterson, M.D. is available for speaking engagements individually or together with Vanessa Kroll Bennett.
This Is So Awkward: Modern Puberty Explained
Drawing from the research for her book This Is So Awkward with co-author Vanessa Kroll Bennett , Cara Natterson educates parents and caregivers on how puberty has changed across the generations . She covers the modern evolution of puberty and explains the physical and emotional shifts during puberty and offers help for the bewil-dered adults charged with supporting kids through it.
Kids are growing up faster in every way. For starters, puberty begins significantly earlier than even a generation ago—for both girls and boys. Plus, access to endless streaming content throws an unanticipated wrench into parenting and education. In this talk, pediatrician Cara Natterson describes the down and dirty details of puberty in boys – from what happens to when and why – in conjunction with the phenomenon of adolescent boy silence that emerges when boys begin to develop. This quiet is nothing new: most adult men remember a phase of monosyllables and closed doors, only to emerge out the other end more communicative again. What is new for this generation is a raw exposure to the world around them in the form of things like easy access to online pornography, habit-forming video games, gun violence, and more. Navigating these issues in relative silence can present risks. The antidote, Natterson argues, is open communication.
Puberty isn’t what it used to be, starting with the fact that today’s kids enter this stage an average 1.5 – 2 years earlier than their parents did. But while it’s starting earlier, puberty isn’t progressing any faster. As a result, the path through this stage of life takes years longer than it used to. The conversation around earlier girl puberty has been buzzing for two decades, but the phenomenon among boys has gone relatively unnoticed. In this talk, Natterson, pediatrician, educator and mom to two teenagers herself, shares stories from behind the data to help elucidate why it matters that girls get curves and boys experience surging testosterone in grade school; what it’s like to be the late bloomer; and how unfettered access to online content has changed the way kids are educated about their own bodies and what they will do with them. This talk can be adjusted for educators, parents, or anyone hoping to understand the effects of modern puberty.
Sex Ed Today
It used to be one (often dreaded) talk, but today sex education is everywhere. Schools teach some version of it. Popular teenage shows use it as a premise. Phones have become hubs for swapping nude images and watching pornography. Whether we think about any or all of this as education, it’s how today’s kids are gathering information about sex. In this talk, which can be adapted for parents or educators, Natterson navigates that information download, lifting the veil on where kids are being sex educated and pointing to some of the best – perhaps surprising – resources. Why is this critical? Because the consequences of unchecked information can be tremendous.
Body Image and Boys
Body image issues are often talked about as an exclusively female issue. But the data tells a very different story. Males are surrounded by all of the same images of perfection and these ideals create just as much distress. Now consider the boy going through puberty, completely unsure of what his future body will look like. If he’s thin, he wants to be bigger; if he’s heavy, he wants to be thinner. All of them want to be more muscular, which is why some will turn to body building supplements or even steroids to try to gain bulk.In this talk, Cara Natterson walks through the physiological and mental path of puberty and uses this information to help explain the importance of engaging boys in new conversations.
Praise for Cara Natterson
Praise for This Is So Awkward
How are loving adults supposed to guide tweens and teens when everything—even puberty—has changed so much since their own adolescence? Cara Natterson and Vanessa Bennett have the answer! This Is So Awkward is an accessible, enjoyable, and detailed road map for addressing even the most delicate topics with confidence and compassion.— Lisa Damour, PhD, author of Untangled, Under Pressure, and The Emotional Lives of Teenagers
What’s more awkward than kids going through puberty? Parents trying to navigate it all! Fortunately, Cara Natterson and Vanessa Kroll Bennett have written This is So Awkward. Always authentic, informative, and practical, they use science and humor to walk us through which conversations to have and how and when to have them. This is the must-read guide you’ve been waiting for.— Tina Payne Bryson, LCSW, Ph.D., New York Times bestselling co-author of The Whole-Brain Child and No Drama Discipline
“Parenting through puberty can be a minefield. We all want to say the right thing, but it’s easy to be paralyzed by discomfort, lack of knowledge, and the fact that things may have changed a lot since we were kids. This book is nothing less than a path through that minefield. It is a must read.— Emily Oster, New York Times bestselling author of Cribsheet and The Family Firm
Puberty is inevitable, but Cara Natterson and Vanessa Kroll Bennett can help spare you and your child the confusion and embarrassment that stops so many of us in our tracks. Indeed, This is So Awkward is the book every household needs if there is someone aged 8-18 living in it. No more winging it, this guide has you covered!— Aliza Pressman, host of the Raising Good Humans podcast
Praise for Decoding Boys
We know boys need our support to grow up safe, healthy, happy, and emotionally whole. But how do we provide that when faced with their adolescent silence? Decoding Boys to the rescue! Dr. Natterson’s practical, wise insight (undergirded by hard science) into young men’s development is absolutely essential reading for anyone with a boy in their life!— Peggy Orenstein, author of Boys & Sex
Decoding Boys offers remarkable scientific insight as to why teenage boys seem to shut down and behave antisocially once they enter puberty. We would say we wish this book was around when we were teenagers, but we were too busy playing videogames, underage drinking, and lying to our parents to read.— Nick Kroll & Andrew Goldberg, co-creators of Big Mouth
Fifty years ago the publication of Our Bodies, Ourselves lifted women up by replacing ignorance and prejudice with knowledge and the power of sisterhood. Decoding Boys is equally revolutionary in its mission to help us understand the nuances of how boys develop. Natterson’s warm, candid, and conversational style gives us a vibrant, page-turning deep dive into both their emotional and physical growth; hers is an authoritative and passionate voice. I finished reading this book enlightened and excited to share it with parents of boys everywhere.— Wendy Mogel, Ph.D., New York Times bestselling author of The Blessing of a Skinned Kneeand The Blessing of a B Minus
Decoding Boys debunks the widespread myth of the inscrutable teenage boy. Dr. Cara Natterson illuminates boys’ inner lives, details the pressures they face from the outside world, and teaches parents how to effectively engage and support their adolescent sons. Decoding Boys is clear, wise, and eye-opening. If you’re raising a boy, you need this brilliant book.— Lisa Damour, Ph.D., New York Times bestselling author of Untangled and Under Pressure
For every parent who asks me how to get their son to say more than ‘I’m fine,’ I now have an answer: read Decoding Boys and absorb Cara Natterson’s wise, thoughtful, compassionate, and informed advice. It will empower parents to have better relationships with their sons and guide them to become confident, honorable young men.— Rosalind Wiseman, New York Times bestselling author of Queen Bees and Wannabes
Decoding Boys is the ultimate guide to help you understand and raise your boys with acceptance and perspective. Reading it is like having an empathetic, really smart friend who totally gets what you are going through and is helpful every step of the way!— Mallika Chopra, author of Living with Intent
Decoding Boys is the book we’ve been waiting for! Dr. Cara Natterson tackles the topics that are difficult for parents to understand, let alone discuss with their children. She demystifies the complex science of male puberty and delivers sound advice for any adult living with—and wanting to support—an increasingly silent teenage boy.— Louise Greenspan, M.D., coauthor of The New Puberty: How to Navigate Early Development in Today’s Girls
Books by Cara Natterson
Media About Cara Natterson
- 212 572-2013
- Cara Natterson travels from Los Angeles, CA
This Is So Awkward
“Think back to your own experience of puberty, and then multiply the confusion and awkwardness by ten—being an emerging adult today is hard! And yet this is also true: these tumultuous years offer so much opportunity for connection, empowerment, and knowledge-building. This is So Awkward will equip you with expert wisdom, deep compassion, and lots of laughs, and will enable you to show up as that parent—the one kids can turn to.”—Dr. Becky Kennedy, New York Times bestselling author of Good Inside