Shopping for children’s clothing can be a delight or a nightmare. Many of us have both kinds of stories.
There are sweet, touching stories of mothers and daughters delighting in the same frilly dress. Then there are stories like mine, when my three little boys all took off in different directions and hid inside circular clothes racks. Their giggles eventually betrayed them.
Before you go shopping, particularly if children are with you, you want to be clear about what size you’ll need. It’s no fun to make a toddler try on three outfits in a row.
So let’s get into it: What’s the difference between 5 vs 5T kids clothes?
Sizes 5 and 5T are extremely similar and will fit most children around the age of 5, including larger toddlers, or any kid in the rough area of 40-46 pounds. Not every store will carry both sizes, but if they do, the difference usually comes down to diaper room. T sizes are meant for toddlers who aren’t fully potty-trained, so 5T may be smaller overall but include a little extra butt room for a diaper.
Let’s take a closer look at these sizes and how some popular children’s clothing brands make use of them!
What to Know Before You Go Shopping
Before you venture into stores, or online, answer these questions:
- How many inches tall is the child?
- How much does the child weigh?
- Is the child potty trained, or still in diapers or pull-ups?
Answers to these three questions will help you decide between 5 and 5T.
What is Size 5T?
The T in this size refers to toddlers, which is shorthand for a child who is not fully potty trained.
5T clothes are designed with diapers or pull-ups in mind, so the waists tend to be elastic or otherwise flexible, and there’s more room in the bottom of 5T pants compared with size 5.
Most five-year-olds are potty trained, but if you have a larger three or four-year-old, they may well need 5T before moving up into older children’s sizes.
Otherwise, 5T is smaller than size 5.
The usual weight for a 5T child is 38 to 42 pounds, with a height of 42 to 44 inches. 5T is the size that comes after 4T and before 5.
Although, as you’ll see below, 5 is not much bigger than 5T, so some parents will go from 5T straight to size 6 to give their child a little growing room.
What is Size 5?
Size 5 is theoretically for a child who’s five years old, but as we know, children don’t fit so neatly into our categories!
It’s far better to shop by size and weight than by age.
Size five is usually for children weighing 42 to 46 pounds, and measuring 45 to 47 inches tall, who have left diapers and pull-ups behind.
It’s often the first size in ‘big kid’s’ clothes. So size 5 may start to show more gender differences in the way clothes are cut than 5T.
5 vs 5T Sizes Difference
Here’s the quick scoop if you’re shopping in a hurry:
5 and 5T are very similar in size at most stores, and you won’t alway see both at a single store that reason. However, there may be some subtle differences in the fit (like 5T including room for a diaper).
Buy 5T if the child weighs around 40 pounds and has a height of around 43″. If the child is not fully potty-trained, 5T is made with that in mind.
Buy size 5 if the child weighs closer to 44 pounds and is closer to 46″ tall, and is potty trained.
Popular Brands That Sell 5T
Not all brands sell both 5 and 5T.
Here are some that do:
- Carter’s size 5T is for 41.5 to 44 inches in height and 37.5 to 42 pounds. Add one to each of those ranges for size 5.
- Children’s Place has 5T and size 5, both at 41 to 44 inches and 39 to 45 pounds.
- Old Navy has 5T at 42 to 45 inches and 40 to 46 pounds. Their XS size is the same in those measurements, but otherwise equivalent to size 5.
- Gerber goes up to 5T, which is 40 to 44 inches and 39 to 43 pounds. They don’t have older kids’ sizes.
Other brands don’t have size 5T.
Hannah Anderson’s size 5 is 42 to 46 inches in height, and 37 to 48 pounds.
Gap’s size 5 is 40 to 45 inches, and 40 to 46 pounds.
The Primary brand has a 4/5 combination size at a height of 38 to 44 inches and a weight of 36 to 46 pounds.
H&M also combines 4/5, at a height of 43″ with no weight specified.
Now let’s get into a few tips for shopping for 5-year-olds, large toddlers, and other kids in the size zone!
Don’t Count on Sizes Being Consistent
As you can see from the information above, brands don’t seem to be getting together and chatting about how to make sizes consistent for the convenience of shoppers!
The 5 and 5T sizes for the above brands vary from a low of 40 inches to a high of 46 inches for height, and vary even more in weight, from a low of 36 pounds to a high of 48. That’s a lot of variance when you’re talking about a young child.
So obviously, it won’t work to order by size. Keeping up with a child’s weight and height is really important when it comes to buying clothes.
Why It’s Better to Try on Children’s Clothes Before Buying
Because of the inconsistencies in size, and the fact that children grow so quickly, it’s a good idea to have children try on clothes in stores, or have a try-before-you-buy online deal, so you can really know if clothes fit.
It’s a good fit if the child can move freely, with no constraints in the shoulders, the chest, or the hips. You want long sleeves to cover their wrists, and long pants to go right to their shoes.
Buying the right size, or even adding a little extra room for growth, makes the most sense when you’re shopping for children. It’s better to roll up some sleeves for a few months than to have clothing looking and feeling too small.
Make Sure The Clothes Feel Good and Your Child Likes Them
A child who is nearing five is in a transitional stage where they’re becoming more aware of themselves as individuals. Fun as it is to dress babies and toddlers, it makes sense to start letting older children have some say about what they wear.
I know whole families who all wear the same styles and colors, and it’s my guess that one person, probably Mom, does a lot of the shopping!
You might have a bent toward pastel colors, but have a child who would take a lot of pleasure in wearing bright colors.
While a five-year-old isn’t capable of too many complex choices, it makes sense to show them three to five choices in colors and patterns, and let them choose what they like best.
Now that you’re armed with the knowledge that you need a child’s height and weight to buy clothes, and that 5T clothes are usually designed to accommodate diapers or pull-ups, you’re ready to go!
Keeping in mind the fit, feel and style of the clothing is also key. You get bonus points for giving the child some say in their choices, but guarding them against choosing something too odd or impractical.
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Hope this helps!