If you’re the parent of a growing little one, no doubt you’ve witnessed them go through a million changes over the past few years. From learning to laugh, to their first steps, to their first words, watching your baby grow is in and of itself a magical experience. But, especially for newer parents, these milestones for your child also mean there may be some learning and adjusting that needs to happen on your part just so you can keep up with them!
When it comes to clothing sizes, in particular, many parents find that they run into some confusion at some point or another. Not only do children grow rather quickly in their first few years, but the way their clothing is sized is completely different from what most adults are accustomed to shopping for themselves. After going through all of the traditional toddler sizes as your child grows, we eventually arrive at the final frontier: Size 5T. But…what comes after that?
In this article, we’ll talk about toddler sizes more in-depth as well as help you understand what size comes next, when to be ready for your child to make the leap to traditional child sizes, and what the biggest difference between toddler sizes and regular children sizes really is.
There are lots of practical things you want to keep in mind when shopping for your toddler. Not only do you want to make sure you’re not blowing your budget on expensive clothing that your child is likely to mess up anyways, you also want to make sure that they’re durable, comfortable, and, of course, that they fit properly.
To that end, there are some ropes to learn, especially for newer parents. Toddler sizes are completely different from traditional clothing sizes—but luckily, not difficultly so! Once you understand the basics of how toddler sizing works, the rest is relatively simple until your child gets old enough to make the jump to traditional children’s sizes.
But if you’re nearing the end of your journey with toddler sizes, you may be wondering what comes next.
In the rest of this article, we’ll talk about:
- The Difference Between Children’s & Toddler Sizes
- When To Be Ready For The Jump
- What Comes After 5T
By the end, you should have a solid understanding of what to expect next on your child’s clothing journey!
The Difference Between Children’s & Toddler Sizes
While sizing for infants means that a certain size will fit a baby up to a certain age (i.e. “3 months” fits babies less than 3 months, “8 months” fits babies less than 8 months, etc.), toddler sizing is a bit confusing in that it’s almost the exact opposite.
When it comes to toddler sizing, it’s important to know that the different size categories don’t have to do so much with how old your child is, but rather with how much they weigh.
Generally speaking, toddler sizes should fit a typical child for that full year of the age associated with that size. So a 3T should fit a toddler between the ages of 3 and 4, for example.
For parents who are still new to the game but want to get a bit of a head start while their baby is still young, toddler sizes typically come with the following corresponding weight recommendations:
- 2T-3T for toddlers that weigh 18-34 lbs
- 3T-4T for toddlers weighing 32-40 lbs
- 4T-5T for toddlers weighing 38-50 lbs
For children’s sizes, the approach changes from sizing according to age and weight to the more specific measurements of your child’s body. While children’s sizes may still correspond somewhat to your child’s age, since all children grow and change at different rates, you’ll likely find yourself moving around a typical sizing chart depending on where your child falls on the development curve.
To ensure the best possible fit with children’s sizes, you should start by measuring your child’s height, hips, natural waist, and inseam. Some retailers will still offer sizing based roughly on age, but others will offer the more typical XS-XL sizing, which can roughly translate to:
- XS – 4-5 years
- S – 6-7 years
- M – 8-9 years
- L – 10-11 years
- XL – 12-13 years
Sizing for smaller children is typically the same for both boys and girls, but there are different size charts for each gender once they get a little bit older, starting at size 7. But no matter their size, age, or gender, for children sizes: if you want the best fit, then you have to measure it!
When To Be Ready For The Jump
Kids’ sizes overlap toddler sizes, making it even more confusing for parents to know when exactly they should expect to make the jump from one to the other.
While children’s sizes start at XS, and typically can fit children that are 4-5 years in age, these clothes tend to be somewhere in between 4T and 5T for sleeve and pant length, but a bit slimmer than 4T and 5T clothing typically is. Some say that this is because toddler clothing is designed not only to accommodate for more ease of movement as your child starts to move around more on their own, but also with extra space for diapers.
However, if you’re wondering when you should be ready to make the jump from toddler to children’s sizes, you’ll find that this varies largely based on how fast your child is developing.
Typically, many children will be ready to start wearing children’s sizes around the age of 4, when they will usually be able to fit into an XS size. An XS will be a tiny bit larger than size 4T, with about one to two extra inches for pants, and wide enough to accommodate 1 to 2 more pounds of weight.
While this may sound a bit confusing, the good news is that in practice the difference is very small and most kids will be able to wear both an XS and a 4T for a time.
As a general rule, the differences between toddler and children’s sizes comes down to very small measurement differences. While a lot depends on the store and brand, you can usually expect toddler sizes to be just a bit shorter.
What Comes After 5T
Since in many cases a “size 5” (or an XS, when correlating to a child’s age) is roughly equivalent to a 5T, give or take a few differences as noted in the previous section, once your little one outgrows their 5T clothes, they’re officially ready to move on to “big kid” sizes!
This means that the next size that comes after 5T would be a 6, or a S in most retail stores. But, of course, you should take your particular child’s body measurements into account to find the most accurate fit.
You may find that your tall, lean child, for example, fits perfectly in a size 5 shirt—but they need a size 6 in pants in order to get the right length. So there is some wiggle room here depending on the specific needs of your child.
Generally speaking though, once your child is big enough to get out of T-labeled clothing, they will be in “Kids’” clothing until they are able to wear clothes from the “Juniors” section. Kids’ clothing in most brands goes from size 4 to size 14 (and sometimes to size 16), roughly corresponding to sizes XS-XL in most retail stores.
With so many intricacies and differences in children’s clothing sizes, it can be difficult to know for sure what size will typically fit your child the best. This is largely due to the fact that there is no universal children’s clothing size guide that retailers and manufacturers are required to follow—meaning you can’t rely on uniformity in sizing across brands. This is especially true when your child is starting to make the transition from toddler sizes to children’s sizes.
While there are some similarities and overlap in sizes once your child reaches the age of 4 or 5, and many children will be able to start wearing a mix of the two, after they have officially outgrown their 5T clothing, it might be time to start looking at making the jump to Size 6, or S, clothing.
As many brands differ slightly in their sizing though, ultimately the best way to know what clothing will fit your child best is to take their measurements before you go shopping. Then, no matter where you shop, be that a high-end retailer or a thrift store, you can use your child’s measurements to find the clothing that best fits your child’s needs. Once you’re able to establish that, it should be much easier to shop for your little one!
At the end of the day, the most important thing is that your child is comfortable and that their clothing leaves them with some room to grow. After all, they grow so fast! And you’ll likely be moving through sizes very quickly in the coming years as a result.