Keeping your kids clothed is actually quite a challenge.
They grow so fast, and the stuff you bought them last season will be way too small by the time the weather will allow them to wear it again.
So you’ll find yourself refreshing their wardrobe often.
Sizing is usually pretty simple, but it gets a little tricky once your kid is about 4 years old. Even for me, and I’ve been through this twice now!
What’s the difference between 4T vs 4 clothes for kids and toddlers?
The difference between 4T and 4 clothes sizes depends heavily on the store and brand you’re shopping, but generally, size 4 will be a tiny bit larger than 4T — around one to two inches longer for pants, and wide enough to accommodate 1-2 more pounds of weight.
In practice, the difference is very small and most kids will be able to wear both.
Some sources claim toddler clothes (Ts) have extra room for diapers compared to size 4, but I have not found this to be the case in my own experience with my daughters’ clothes. 4T pants and tights have been quite fitted on my daughters, as most 4-year-olds are pretty well potty-trained.
But let’s dive in a little bit deeper to toddler vs youth sizing and the differences you can expect to find when you shop!
What is 4T? (How toddler clothes sizing works)
Once your baby outgrows baby clothes (usually measured in months, like 24M), he or she will be ready for toddler sizes.
Toddler sizing couldn’t be simpler.
The size numbers are followed by a T, indicating they’re meant for toddlers, and align pretty closely to your child’s age.
For example, a 2T pair of pants should fit most 2-year-olds.
A 3T should fit most 3-year-olds.
And so on.
4T clothing is meant to fit toddlers who are around 4 years old.
The exact sizing will vary a little bit depending on which brand or store you shop. And of course, if your child is large or small for his age, you may need to shop up or down a size.
(Size 4T is usually for kids around 40″ tall and weighing about 35 pounds, give or take.)
But, in general, you’ll find 4-year-olds wearing 4T clothing most of the time.
It’s also worth mentioning here that 4 and 4T in both boys and girls sizes are usually the same. At this age, there won’t be a difference in boys vs girls clothes sizing.
(The next and final stop on the toddler sizing train is 5T, the biggest available.)
What is size 4? (What size 4 means and how kids clothes sizing works)
When your child starts outgrowing his or her 3Ts, you start to enter a grey area of clothing sizes.
They’re definitely ready to move into 4Ts and beyond, but they might also be ready to start wearing “big kid” or youth sizes.
Kid clothing sizes usually start at size 4 and go all the way up 14-18 at most stores.
The sizes still roughly correlate to a child’s age (4 for 4-year-olds, 10 for 10-year-olds, etc.), but as kids begin to grow at different rates, you’ll find yourself moving up or down the size chart a lot.
A size 4 is considered, at most stores, to be an extra small size — meant for the smallest of big kids.
It’s almost remarkably similar to a size 4T, which is meant for older toddlers.
There’s an overlap of the toddler and kid’s size charts once your kid hits 4 years old, which is what seems to cause all the confusion!
Petite people will know this problem well.
You may be able to wear large youth clothes or small adult clothes, depending on the exact sizing and fit of each clothing item.
Specific Examples of 4T vs 4
The main thing to know?
4T and 4 are, at most stores, very, very similar in size.
Both should fit average-sized 4-year-olds just fine.
But for a better comparison of the two, here’s are the most exact measurements I could find of both sizes at popular children’s stores.
4T vs 4 at Carters
Who doesn’t love Carter’s?!
If you’re like my wife and me, you’ll practically live here the first year or so when shopping for your newborn.
But it’s great for toddler clothes, as well.
4T apparel at Carter’s is meant to fit a toddler 39-41.5″ tall and weighing 34-37.5 pounds.
Size 4 in kids or youth, on the other hand, is for kids 40-42.5″ tall and weighing 34-38.5 pounds.
So a 4 is about an inch longer and a pound “thicker” on average at Carter’s, according to the brand’s official size charts.
Unfortunately, Carter’s doesn’t give exact inseam or waist measurements on their website, but the height and weight ranges give you a good idea of how the clothes are likely to fit.
4T vs 4 at Children’s Place
Children’s Place, God bless them, gives extremely exact measurements on their official website.
So here they are:
A size 4T at Children’s Place is meant to fit a child around 4 years old, between 38-41″ tall, and weighing between 35-39 pounds.
4T shirts at Children’s Place have a 21-22″ chest while 4T pants feature a 21.5-22″ waist.
A size 4, at least according to CP’s own size charts, accommodates children of the same age and size range as 4T.
The chest and waist measurements are the same on 4T and 4 clothes here.
The inseam on a 4 is 15.5-17″, which is exactly the same as a 4T.
So in other words, at least according to the official size charts from Children’s Place, there’s no difference between a 4T and a 4.
You can more or less feel free to ignore the T when shopping, but of course, the fit of each individual item might vary, so try things on before you buy!
4T vs XS (4-5) at Gap Kids
Gap Kids doesn’t have a size 4, but most 4-5-year-olds will wear an XS here.
Here’s how the sizes stack up according to their size charts:
4-year-old clothes at Gap will fit kids weighing between 36-40 pounds and who are 39-42″ tall.
XS clothes at Gap fit kids weighing between 33-48 pounds and who are 39-45″ tall
Most 4-year-olds should be able to wear XS at Gap. The main difference here is that XS will give them a little more room to grow versus wearing 4T.
What’s the difference between toddler and kid sizes, in general?
4 vs 4T is the most common sizing issue you’ll run into when shopping for a toddler, but you occasionally see other options like:
- 3 vs 3T
- 5 vs 5T
- 1T vs 12 months
As a general rule, toddler vs kid or youth sizes come down to very minute differences. It all depends on the store and brand, but you can usually expect toddler sizes (size numbers that end in a “T”) to be a smidge shorter — they may also have bulkier pants to include room for a diaper.
Kid sizes, those without a T, will generally be a little bit longer for taller kids.
You’ll want to try any clothes on your child to be sure of the fit. At a lot of stores, a 4 vs 4T or a 3 vs 3T (etc) results in very little difference at all.
The difference between size 4 (XS) and 4T is so small you might as well be splitting hairs.
At some stores, the sizing is exactly the same.
At most others, however, expect a size 4 to have just a little bit of extra growing room versus a 4T.
The pants will often be 1-2 inches longer, and the waist/chest measurements may be an extra inch or two, as well, to accommodate a growing child.
I would urge you to try on specific outfits before you buy, because you never really know how something will fit until you do!
(At least try on before you wash the clothes if you ordered online!)
In any case, I hope this helps.
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Good luck, parents!