4 vs 4T – Why Differences in Clothing Sizes Matter

As any parent of a toddler knows, little ones grow so fast that you constantly have to buy new clothes. Especially the ages of 4 and 5 are problematic when it comes to new clothes in terms of clothes sizes. This is why I wrote this article comparing 4 vs 4T sizes, so you can more easily determine which is best suited to your little one.

Main differences between 4 vs 4T clothing sizes

Essentially, the main difference between a size 4 and 4T comes down to a few inches. A 4T size refers to children 39 – 41” in height and 33 -36lbs. Generally, size 4 indicates a height of 42 – 44” and 37 – 41lbs. Smaller children would be more comfortable in a 4T size. 

Meaning of 4 size

A size 4 generally refers to children who are potty trained. These clothes fit closer to the body and often have less elastic on the waists and feature zips and buttons. Based on their specifications, a size 4 is normally worn by children aged 5. Size 4 clothes are designed a little longer in length to compensate for growing toddlers whose heights are increasing as they’re growing. 

Obviously, this will all depend on the size of the little one, the size of the clothing brand and type of fabric used. The majority of 4-year-olds still wear a 4T, but since the difference is so small, most children will be able to wear both.

Is 4T size the same as 4 sizes?

It can be said that a 4T and 4 size are essentially the same size. You could even describe it as 4T being the slightly smaller version of a size 4. Smaller toddlers or those still wearing diapers usually wear a 4T. It’s also handy to know that 4T size clothes usually have adjustable waists (made with elastic) to accommodate little toddlers still wearing diapers. 

Bigger, or non-diaper-wearing toddlers often wear regular size 4. The difference is size is usually just a few inches for length and a small weight difference. Size 4 clothes usually have zips and buttons that make the outfit fit more snuggly since there’s no need to leave room for a diaper. Since not all toddlers grow at the same rate, you might find your little one wearing a 4T until they’re almost 5. 

Summary table (size chart) including size 4 and 4T

To give you an idea of how 4 and 4T fits into the general sizing of your little one, I’ve included a sizing chart. This will give you an idea of where your little one’s size fits in and how close to 4T they are. 

SizesHeight (in.)Weight (lb)Chest (in.)Waist(in.)Hip(in.)
3 months18-247-13171817
6 months24-2713-171818 1/218
12 months27-2917-22191919
18 months29-3122-252019 1/220
24 months31-3325-282019 1/220
2T33-3428-29212022
3T35-3629-322220 1/223
4T37-3933-36232124
Regular 440 – 4236 – 40242225

What size should a 4-year-old boy or girl wear?

When it comes to clothing sizes there’s no hard and fast rule about what size your 4-year-old should wear. Factors such as the child’s actual weight and length, brand particular sizing and the type of material used will determine the end result. It’s not uncommon for smaller infants to wear a size down or bigger 4-year olds to wear a size up

On average though, most 4-year-olds can easily wear a size 4T. This means height averages around 40” and weight fluctuates between 33 – 36 lbs. If your infant doesn’t fit comfortably in this size, you’ll have to go for 5T size and beyond which is the biggest in the infant range. 

If you’re deciding on the different types of clothing your infant should be wearing at different ages, you can read up on a few other articles I’ve written. One popular articles include how many baby and toddler socks you really need

4T vs 4 sizes in retail stores

As with adult clothes, a particular size doesn’t necessarily have the same dimensions in all retail stores. If you think a 4T is the same size in every store, you’d be mistaken. This can make finding the perfect fit a bit challenging. 

However, if your little one is slightly bigger than the average 4-year old, these tweaked sizes could be handy. Let’s see how some popular clothing retailers stack up. 

At Carters

For many parents, Carters is their go-to store for baby necessities and clothes. Carters 4T sizing indicates a weight of 34 – 37.5lbs and a height of 39 – 41.5”. Despite being a popular brand, their weight category is 1.5lbs heavier than most. 

At Walmart

Parents often choose Walmart for toddler clothing because of its extensive variety. Walmart’s sizing chart labels 4T as having a height ranging between 38.5 – 41.5”. With a weight indication of 34.5 – 38lbs, their 4T size is about 2lbs heavier than most other retailers.

Gap Kids

Gap’s sizing chart doesn’t specify 4T sizing but generalizes the size 4 in U.S., EU, UK and Japanese sizes. In general, their size 4 weight ranges between 36 – 40lbs and the height at 39 – 42”. This makes their sizing slightly bigger than the industry average. 

Nordstrom

Most parents will agree, Nordstrom’s toddler outfits are both stylish and timeless. Nordstrom has a 3lbs heavier weight range than most other retailers with a weight of 34 – 39lbs. This is a plus for parents with bigger or chubby infants. Their height range varies between 38.5 – 41.5”, which is within the industry average. 

Old Navy

The popular expression with baby clothes from Old Navy is “designed with room to grow.” Old Navy features both 4T and size 4 measurements on their sizing chart. 4T has a height of 39 – 42” and weight of 36 – 40lbs. Both sizes are within the industry average. 

A good way to know where your little fits in with their measurements, is to measure them correctly. I’ve included a short clip that shows you how to correctly measure your little one. This will help you to get the most comfortable fit. 

Conclusion

What it comes down to is, a 4T is a smaller size 4. If you have a petite child that’s small for their age, 4T is the size you’re going to need. 4T allows little toddlers to wear clothes that don’t look baggy. Since most styles are made with elastic bands and adjustable waists, there’s also compensation for diaper wearers. 

It’s also important to remember that some stores and brands have such a small size difference between 4 and 4T that you’ll hardly notice the difference. The extra inches on these pants will be a great help for little ones who are growing faster in length than they are in weight. In short, 4 vs 4T doesn’t have to be complex. With correct measuring, you’ll easily be able to fit your growing toddler into the right size! 

Here’s another interesting article to read next on how to get your toddler to wear summer, winter hats or hats for other seasons! Or wondering about the differences between 2T vs 3T sizes? And what about the sizes that come after 4T?

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