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Confused about the difference between size 4T and 4 for your kid? I was too.
The other day I was browsing for matching pajamas for our babies (dressing them to match is one of my ultimate joys) and hit a stumbling block when I tried to filter by size. I had the size options of both 4T and regular 4.
Until that point, I didn’t even know there was a regular 4 size. And clearly had no idea how size 4 differed from the 4T toddler sizes to which I was accustomed.
Apparently once you hit 4T, gone are the days of simple progressive sizing (excluding that awkward 24M vs 2T overlap). Many retailers carry both 4T and 4 sizes without clearly indicating the distinction between them.
I’m a trained researcher and knew I couldn’t be the only parent encountering this issue. So I did a deep-dive on this toddler clothing size quirk and compiled this guide to save you time figuring it out. I’ve also written extensively about kids clothing sizes so I’m well-versed in these size issues (here’s an example of one of my guides).
Below you’ll find a breakdown of 4T vs 4 sizes and a rundown of their differences. Then we’ll go into some example sizings for 4T and 4 at common children’s stores.
And don’t forget to plan ahead and check out my guide to 5T vs. 5 vs. XS sizes and my guide to 6X vs. 6 vs. 6T sizes (because unfortunately 4T vs. 4 isn’t the only confusing size!).
Table of Contents
4T size meaning
So, what is 4T size? 4T size means that the clothing item in question is designed for toddlers. The ‘T’ designation specifically is the indicator that 4T is a toddler clothing size.
As a toddler size, it takes into account that the toddler may still in diapers. The bottoms are roomier and easier to pull on over the bulk of a diaper.
Toddler size clothes are also less likely to have buttons and zippers so they’re easier for toddlers learning to dress themselves.
What is size 4?
Size 4 is the smallest size of “big kid” clothes. It also approximates the sizing for an average 4-year old; however, size 4 assumes the child is out of diapers.
Expect longer and leaner cuts, and buttons and zippers.
Differences between 4T and 4 sizes
Generally, regular size 4 is a bit longer than 4T. They’re designed for toddlers who are thinning out and becoming lanky little kids. 4T clothes tend to be wider which more easily accommodates diapers.
Size 4 items may have longer sleeve lengths and pant in-seams, where 4T bottoms will be roomier to fit over diapers. 4T bottoms are also more likely to be elastic or adjustable making it easier for new dressers and/or to get over diapers. In comparison, size 4 as “big kid” clothes more often feature zippers and buttons.
Overall though, most kids are fine wearing both 4T and size 4 because the difference is a subtle.
Exact sizing measurements also vary by store. Below you’ll find a guide to the 4 sizings at common kids’ clothing stores. These numbers help elucidate the difference, or really lack there of, between the 4T/4 sizes.
Related Post: How to Clean Used Baby Clothes
Size 4 and 4T size chart examples
To better the illustrate what size 4T means compared to size 4, let’s take a look at some 4T size charts. The size charts below show the differences between size 4T and size 4 at major U.S. clothing retailers like Carter’s and Target.
Carter’s 4T vs 4 Size Differences
Carter’s is perhaps the most well-known baby and toddler’s clothing retailer in the States. In 2019, they were estimated to have captured a quarter of all baby clothes sales (source).
Carter’s toddler sizes go up to 5T so there is overlap between the 4T/4 and 5T/5 sizes.
Here is the 4T/4 sizes comparison at Carter’s:
|4T||39 – 41.5″||34 – 37.5 lbs|
|4||40 – 42.5″||34 – 38.5 lbs|
|4-5||42.5 – 45″||38.5 – 43 lbs|
Confusingly, Carter’s also lists a size called 4-5 on its size chart. Poking around their website, I wasn’t actually able to find anything for sale in that size.
Old Navy & Gap 4T vs. XS
Old Navy and Gap do not have a size 4. Their toddler sizes run from 2T to 6T. For big kids clothes, they jump to an XS, S, M and L sizing system. The XS-L sizing does not provide weights but the XS height overlap with 5T.
Here is Old Navy & Gap’s 4T vs. XS sizing comparison:
You can use this extended toddler sizing up to 6T to your advantage to possibly save money. As of the writing of this article, identical “family pajamas” in toddler sizes were $10 while the kids’ XS was $29.99.
Cat & Jack’s 4 & 4T size meaning
Cat & Jack is Target’s popular house brand of baby and children’s apparel. It is popular for being durable and cute. I’ve been impressed at how our Cat & Jack clothes have held up against heavy wear.
Cat & Jack toddler sizes go from 2T to 5T and their children’s sizes from 4 to 18, meaning there is an overlap between sizes 4T, 5T, 4 and 5.
Here is a comparison of Cat & Jack’s 4T/4 size measurements:
Interestingly, when you look at the toddler size chart it labels 4T as 4T/4 but the measurements for size 4 are slightly different when you look at the kids’ sizing chart.
Children’s Place and Gymboree 4T vs. 4
Children’s Place owns its name brand and also the common Gymboree brand. They compete in the children’s clothing market with their low prices. I’ve been surprisingly impressed by the softness of our Children’s Place hand-me-down t-shirts.
Based on the size chart, Children’s Place 4T and 4 fit the same size children. They also give measurements for chest, waist and in-seam that are exactly the same for 4T and 4.
|4T||38 – 41″||35 – 39 lbs|
|4||38 – 41″||35 – 39 lbs|
Note that Children’s Place manufacturing was involved in the tragic factory building collapse in Dhaka in 2013. Their website details their responsible sourcing policies but I was not able to find anything on change in practices since the disaster.
Frequently Asked Questions
Finally, let’s turn to some frequently asked questions about 4T vs. 4 sizes.
What age is 4T size for?
In general, size 4T is designed with the average 4 year old in mind. This means that in theory the size should fit an averaged size 4 year old during their preschool year.
That said, the sizes and growth rate of children varies widely. Our toddler started to wear size 4T just before his 3rd birthday and some brands of 4T, like Carter’s, is already getting small on him before he’s even 3.5. On the other hand, smaller kids may stay in 4T until kindergarten.
What size do 4 year olds wear?
The average 4 year old fits in both size 4T and size 4. Based on CDC growth charts, 4 year old boys range from 37.5-43 inches tall and 30-44 lbs, and girls are 37-42.5 inches tall and 28-44 lbs (source). The majority of these ranges overlap with the 4T & 4 size charts. Smaller or taller 4 year olds may be in size 3T or sizes 5T/5 respectively.
What size comes after 4T?
Most often, size 5T and size 5 come after size 4T.
Is 4T the same as XS?
No, 4T size is not the same as XS size. 4T is a smaller size comes before XS. For most brands, child’s XS size is their first “big kids” size and is comparable to size 5. For more on XS sizing, check out my post on size XS vs. size 5 vs. size 5T.
What is size 4 or 4T bigger?
Size 4 is bigger than size 4T in some brands, like Carter’s and Cat & Jack (source: size chart). However, size 4 and 4T are essentially the same size at other stores like Children’s Place.
Is 4T the same as size 4/5?
No, 4T is a distinct size from size 4-5. Generally, size 4/5 will be larger than size 4T. Size 4-5 is an uncommon size that you may see at Carter’s and a few other retailers. According to Carter’s, size 4-5 is a dual size that is “sized generously” with more room for kids to grow into them (source).
How is size 4 different from 5T?
Generally, size 4 is a smaller size than size 5T. Read more about size 5T.
What are 4T and 4 waist sizes?
4T waist size is approximately 22 inches according to the size charts of the major clothing retailers like Carter’s, Target and Children’s Place. Size 4 also has a 22 inch waist size (source: Carter’s, Target & Children’s Place size charts).
Conclusion: Are 4T and 4 the Same?
4T and 4 sizes have slight differences — 4T accommodates diapers and 4 is longer cut — but overall, your kid is likely to fit fine in both 4T and 4 sizes . They’re designed for essentially the same size kid at most stores. For tall and thin kids, size 4 may work slightly better; stocky kids or toddlers in diapers may like the 4T fit more.
You may get a little longer wear out of size 4 since it is slightly longer/bigger at most stores. If your toddler is still in diapers, 4T will be the safer bet.
But, the 4T vs. 4 difference is subtle enough that I wouldn’t be deterred from buying clothes in either size.
And finally, when in doubt, it is always best to size up when purchasing toddler clothes so you can get the most wear time out of each piece. It’s an easy way to save money on toddler clothes (for more money savings tips, check out: 17 Ways to Save Money on Toddler and Baby Clothes).