Childrens’ Clothing Sizes 101: Your Guide to Getting the Right Size


Choosing the right-sized clothes for your little one seems like it should be simple enough. However, it can be a complicated process. For starters, kids grow fast, so it’s important to know what size to buy to make sure they get as much use out of them as possible.

Factor in differences in sizing between brands and the lack of a requisite universal size guide for manufacturers and retailers, seasonality, and the risk of shrinking with some fabrics, and there are a lot of variables to consider.

If you’re shopping for kids’ clothes, you may feel confused or frustrated about sizing. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Use this guide to childrens’ clothing sizing to make the most informed decisions.

The Basics of Baby Clothes Sizing

Baby clothing is usually sized by age in months, with height and weight acting as additional factors. Here’s a look at the typical breakdown of baby clothes sizing:

  • P (Preemie): Zero to five pounds
  • NB (Newborn): Five to eight pounds
  • Three months: Eight to 12 pounds
  • Six months: 12 to 16 pounds
  • Nine months: 16 to 20 pounds
  • 12 months: 20 to 24 pounds
  • 18 months: 24 to 28 pounds
  • 24 months: 28 to 30 pounds
  • 2T: 29 to 32 pounds
  • 3T: 32 to 35 pounds
  • 4T: 35 to 39 pounds
  • 5T: 39 to 43 pounds

However, babies grow at different rates. Because of this, many 18-month-olds will not fit into standard 18-month clothing sizes. A baby that’s smaller on the growth chart may still be in 12-month clothing, while a larger baby may need 24-month clothing. Furthermore, newborns that weigh more than eight pounds at birth will likely completely bypass NB-sized clothing.

Not all clothing brands adhere to these exact measurements. Some brands run big or small, while others run large or short. That’s why it’s important to practice due diligence when purchasing baby clothing.

The Basics of Childrens’ Clothes Sizing

Childrens’ clothing sizes also experience the same issues as baby clothing sizes. Not only does sizing run differently depending on the brand, but even clothes labeled with the same size from the same brand may fit differently depending on how they’re made.

Here’s a look at the typical breakdown of childrens’ clothing:

  • Toddler: 2T to 6T
  • Little Kid: 4 to 6X
  • Big Kid or Tween: 7 to 16
  • Extended sizing: 18 to 20

Additionally, some childrens’ clothing sizing is based on an XS-XL scale:

  • XS: Four to five years
  • S: Six to seven years
  • M: Eight to nine years
  • L: 10-11 years
  • XL: 12-13 years

Again, keep in mind that kids grow at very different rates so neither of these sizing charts will be 100% accurate for every child.

Then, there’s the overlap to take into consideration. The “T” in 2T-6T refers to “Toddler.” It might seem natural to conclude that a 24M piece of baby clothing and a 2T piece of childrens’ clothing will fit the same. However, toddler-sized clothing is usually cut slimmer than infant clothing. See a size 2 piece of clothing without the T? It will likely be roomier to allow for a diaper, too.

Additionally, some brands further categorize clothing into “Slim,” “Regular,” and “Plus” sizes based on build. Your child’s proportions will determine which size is likely to fit best for them.

The Basics of European Childrens’ Clothing

Depending on the country, European childrens’ clothing sizes also differ. Aside from British companies, most European brands’ sizes are based on height in centimeters. Here’s one example:

  • 50 cm = 18 to 22 in and zero to three months
  • 60 cm = 22 to 26 in and three to six months
  • 70 cm = 26 to 30 in and six to 12 months
  • 75 cm = 28 to 30 in and 12 to 18 Months
  • 80 cm = 30 to 32 in and 18 to 24 Months
  • 85 cm = 32 to 34 in and two years
  • 90 cm = 34 to 38 in and three years

Again, all clothing won’t fit all kids the same way. However, knowing your child’s measurements can at least offer you some direction.

Kids’ Clothing Sizing Tips

While all of this can be overwhelming, there are some strategies you can follow when shopping for baby clothing to find clothes that fit your child properly.

  1. Do some research. As mentioned earlier, different brands have different sizing. In addition to checking brand websites for specific size charts, you can also do some research online in caregiver groups and forums. Many sites also include clothing reviews, many of which specifically address fit.
  2. Pay attention to the fabric. Babies and kids go through a lot of clothing. While fabrics like cotton are beloved for comfort, cotton can also be prone to shrinking. If you’re unsure, you might want to go up a size. On this note, make sure to follow care instructions for washing and drying baby and kids’ clothing as this can help keep it in optimal condition.
  3. Be okay with trial and error. You’re not going to get it right every time. Most stores have generous return policies so if something is too small, send it back. Take notes for next time! If it’s too big, you can also tuck it away for the future if it will be seasonally appropriate. Layers can also be your best friend when it comes to stretching the versatility of baby and kids’ clothing.
  4. Stick with what works. Find a particular brand of stylish kids’ clothing you love that also fits your child well and stock up! Most kids follow a standard growth curve, so if a 2T fits your two-year-old, a 3T is likely to fit next year. However, if your kid has a major growth spurt, this may not hold up.

While it can take time to find the best-fitting clothes for babies and kids, the more you know about the process, the easier it will be. Understanding the system, getting as much information as you can, and learning as you go can help you create a wonderful and well-fitting wardrobe for your child.

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