4T vs 4 Clothing Sizes

Children grow up fast. One of the classic mistakes many parents make is buying too many clothes for their newborn baby who quickly outgrows everything. Unfortunately, it’s still easy to buy the wrong sizes as your children get older. Some children will be taller, some will be slimmer and they will go through different growth spurts at different times.

Kids’ sizes are usually fairly easy to understand, but there are various systems used in different countries. In the UK, they usually indicate age range once you get past 24m such as 2-3, 3-4 etc. In Europe they just use a centimetre range for the height of the child. However, in the US they use 2T, 3T, 4T and 5T for toddlers. The confusion arises because you can also get sizes 4 and 5. So what’s the difference?

In this article, let’s compare 4T and 4 sizes, as this is one of the more common issues facing parents when buying clothes.

What is 4T?

4T refers to a clothing size for toddlers. It’s a system employed in the US, and the number refers to the recommended age of the child i.e. 2T is for 2 year olds, 4T for year olds etc. 5T is the biggest size in the toddler range. It’s a fairly simple system, but the exact size for 4T clothes can vary by store, which makes things a little more confusing.

In general, 4T is for children who weigh around 35lbs and are around 40” tall.  These are average numbers for a 4 year old, but if your child is smaller or bigger than these numbers, consider dropping to 3T, going up to 5T or size 4 (see below).

Is size 4 the same as 4T?

This is the biggest problem that confuses parents. Size 4 is actually on a different scale of clothing sizes. This scale is for bigger kids going up to just to the start of their teenage years. The numbers still correlate to the age of the child though, and start from 4 going up to 14.

Size 4 and 4T are actually very similar as they overlap on the two scales of clothing sizes, but the former tends to be slightly bigger. 4T clothing tends to have an adjustable waist for trousers, and shorter sleeves for tops. Size 4 clothing has longer sleeves but the waist is not adjustable (so you’ll probably need to use a belt if it doesn’t fit perfectly).

Here’s a sizing chart that’s a good guide:

  • 4T is for children 39-41” in height and 33-36lbs in weight
  • Size 4 is for children 42-44” in height and 37-41lbs in weight.

Therefore if your 4 year old is a little big for their age, you might want to consider size 4 clothing.

Is size 4 bigger than 5T?

5T is for 5 year olds who are 41-44” in height and 39-45lbs in weight. Compared to size 4 they are actually very similar in sizes in terms of height, but 5T supports a heavier weight.

What size should a 4 year old wear?

Looking at the various sizes available, your son or daughter could wear size 3T if they are quite small for their age, sizes 4T or 4 if they are in the middle, and 5T or 4 if they are a bit bigger. Usually you get a sense of what is right for your child, but it’s always best for them to try things on in the store first just to make sure.

Another key factor is the waist size of your child. When you choose a top or some jeans, although the height might be ok, your child’s waist might be different and an item of clothing can be too tight or too baggy.

This happens a lot with my 4 year old daughter. She is quite tall for her age, but she has a narrow waist. No matter what trousers or jeans she puts on, they always seem to fall down a bit beneath her hips. It doesn’t help that my wife orders a lot of clothes online and all too often something doesn’t fit our daughter properly (and I’m the sorry soul who has to go to the post office to return it!)

How does 4T compare to sizes in other countries?

While the US system uses 2T, 3T, 4T and 5T for toddler sizes, other countries do things differently. 4T is equivalent to 3-4 in the UK, 98-104cm in Europe, and 4 in Australia.

What is size 4T in different retailers?

Although I’ve outlined the measurements for 4T above, unfortunately various retailers can tweak them slightly which makes things a bit harder for you. Here are some examples:

Walmart

According to their sizing chart, in Walmart 4T has a height of 38.5-41.5” and weight 34.5-38lbs. This means for them, 4T is 2lb heavier than the average, but the height is basically the same.

Carters

At Carters, size 4T is for children with a height of 39-41.5”, and a weight of 34-37.5lbs. There measurements are more in line with the industry average, but it’s still 1.5lbs heavier.

Nordstrom

According to Nordstrom’s sizing chart, their 4T range is for 34-39lbs (3lbs more than average) and 38.5-41.5”.

4T vs 4 clothing sizes

Conclusion

Although the differences are small between 4T and 4, it’s important to try these clothes on in store. You can see that even across retailers, there are slight variations. If you have any doubt, it’s best to buy in person rather than online (unless you know for sure an item of clothing will fit your child ok).

Also, you can factor in growing room a bit too. If you’re in two minds about whether to choose 4T or 4, go for the latter option as it’ll give your child a bit more room and it will therefore last a while longer. 

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