In order to get the proper fit when it comes to children's clothing sizes, it's a good idea to take the height and weight of the child into consideration instead of just the numbers that refer to a child's age. While knowing the child's age is usually easier than knowing his or her height and weight, many children are not in the size that corresponds to their age.
Baby and Toddler Clothing Sizes
Baby and toddler clothing begins with Preemie size for infants born pre-term and runs up through size 4T. Children develop at individual rates, so the size name may not match up with your child's actual age. These general guidelines will help you find a place to start with baby and toddler shopping.
There is not one universal sizing guide for babies and toddlers, but rather specific guides from each brand, manufacturer, or retailer.
Children's retailer Carter's offers an extensive size chart including weight and height measurements for apparel, gowns, and outwear in sizes Preemie -12. They use half inch measurements so, for example, Carter's 3-month size is for babies weighing 8-12.5 pounds.
For younger babies, Gerber Childrenswear uses age ranges along with height and weight measurements in their apparel sizing. Their 6-9 month size fits babies 16-20 pounds and 24-28 inches long.
Babies R Us also matches height and weight measurements with age ranges to come up with their apparel sizes. This retailer separates smaller baby sizes into Preemie (up to 5 lbs.), Newborn (5-9 lbs.), and 0-3 month (9-13 lbs) sizes.
When shopping for baby clothes it generally isn't an option to try every outfit on your child. To help find the best fit for your baby, keep these factors in mind:
Each clothing brand may use slightly different measurements based on their approach to sizing, so keep track of which ones run big or small.
Sometimes clothing brands use an age range such as 3-6 months instead of one specific age for their sizing. In this case it's a good idea to size up.
Choose clothing that is slightly too big for your child since they grow rapidly.
Young Children's Clothing Sizes
After the baby and toddler sizes, but before boys' and girls' size ranges separate, you'll find children's clothing sizes from 4-6X. These sizes, like the baby and toddler sizes, are typically identical for boys and girls because young children haven't yet started to develop inherently masculine or feminine body types.
Apparel Sizing for Ages 5-7
During this series of sizes, height can also start to become an important factor. Children who are tall and skinny or overweight for their age may have difficulty fitting into standard waists and lengths. Children in this size range are able to try on clothing, so it may be a good idea to bring them shopping and ensure the best fit.
Popular Retailer Sizing
Clothing sizes for younger children are less likely to match a child's age because kids develop at such different rates during these years. Popular retailers offer tips for buying with them and finding the right size at their store.
The Children's Place offers an extensive sizing guide on their website with infographics on how to measure your child and charts for girls' and boys' tops, bottoms, and accessories. At this store you start to see a separation in girls' and boys' size guidelines. For example, they combine girls' size 6X and 7 into one size, but don't have a 6X size for boys.
Overstock.com suggests in their size guide that sizes in this range no longer correspond with age, so they offer height and weight measurements for each size option. This retailer also shares which general size labels match numerical size labels. In this case a 4 is the same as a Small and a 6 is the same as a Large.
Older Children's Sizes
After size 6X, children's clothing is divided into boys' and girls' sizes. Measurements other than weight become more important in determining clothing sizes at this point. In addition, some brands will make distinctions between clothing that will fit tall and skinny children versus ones who may be on the plus side. If your child has special proportions, it may be worth the effort to find brands with beyond-standard sizes.
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Boys' sizes start at an 8, which is intended for those around age 7 and run up through size 18. In general, boys' clothing is easier to fit than girls' clothing. However, it's important to watch out for growth spurts.
Apparel Sizing for Boys Ages 7-14
For girls, children's clothing sizes are a bit more complicated than boys' sizes. The reason for this is that girls develop hips and chests at different ages. It is often the case that a girl will develop hips and a chest suddenly, without any corresponding growth in height.
Apparel Sizing for Girls Ages 7-14
Girls' sizes assume an hourglass figure (chest and hip measurements being larger than the waist measurements), which means girls who are don't fit this body type may have difficulty finding well-fitting clothing, even when following a junior size chart recommendation.
When shopping for this age group you'll want to consider the cut of clothing as boys' options fit a specific body type and so do girls' options. Kids in this size range should definitely try on clothing to see what best fits their body type. These sizes also offer more fit options like slim or regular for boys and girls or plus size for girls and husky for boys.
Athletic retail giant Nike offers measurement video tutorials and features a size recommendation tool for all ages where you put in your child's age and height to see what size they need. While they use numerical sizes for babies, toddlers, and little kids, Nike uses letter sizes from XS-XL for kids over age 6.
Old Navy offers guides for Girls' clothing and Boys' clothing in regular, slim, and plus size options using age, height, waist, and hip measurements. Plus sizes use the same number scale as regular sizes, but offer larger waist and hip measurements. At this store a girls' plus size 8 has a waist measurement of 26.5 and hip measurement of 31.5, both of which are 2-3 inches bigger than standard size 8 measurements.
Walmart's sizing guides offer charts for boys or girls clothing in regular, slim, plus, and husky sizes each using a variety of body measurements. In their boys' husky size 8, the waist measures 29 while the hip measures 30.5, making these measurements about four inches bigger than a standard boys' size 8.
The Right Size
The best way to find the right size in children's clothing is to have your child try on the clothing before you buy it. In addition, a little brand loyalty can go a long way. If you know that your child is always 'one size ahead' in a certain brand, and 'one size behind' in another brand, buying clothing from those two clothing brands is a cinch even though your child does not exactly follow the size recommendations according to his or her age, weight, or height.