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Buying clothes for your little one can be stressful. There are so many different sizes that it can sometimes seem impossible to choose the right one.

One of the reasons parents have so much trouble finding the right size is that there is no universal size chart for children’s clothing.

When children are babies, finding the right size is simple, for the most part. The sizes are classified by age, so you choose a one-month size for a one-month-old.

Of course, there are always going to be babies that wear smaller or larger sizes than their age.

In this article, we will break down the differences between sizes 3T and 3 so you can have a better idea of what size your child needs. We believe this information will clear up any confusion.

3 year old girl wearing a toque, scarf, and jacket

What Does 3T Mean?

If you are new to parenting, you may not realize what a size 3T means. The T in this size represents a toddler. The number in the size 3T indicates the age of the child. So, a 3T is for a three-year-old toddler.

It is important to note that toddler sizes are designed according to the assumption that the child is still wearing diapers or pull-ups.

Designers make the bottoms slightly bigger than they would for an older child, to give more room for the added bulk of the diaper.

stack of diapers

What Does a Size 3 Mean?

This is where things get a little confusing, which is why so many parents become exasperated when searching for clothes for their little ones. A size 3 is for a three-year-old toddler.

A size three is meant for a toddler who has been potty trained and is no longer wearing diapers or pull-ups. Size 3 clothing does not have a roomier waist or bottom area to make room for a diaper.

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Can a Toddler Wear a 3T and Size 3 Interchangeably?

This is another area that can be tricky regarding these two sizes. It is possible that a three-year-old toddler who is still wearing a diaper could fit into both a 3T and a size 3, but the toddler is going to be much more comfortable in the 3T because of the ample room offered.

A toddler not wearing a diaper may fit in a 3T, but the bottoms will look overly baggy because of the extra material.

3 year old boy wearing a vest

What Are the Key Differences Between a 3T and Size 3?

Aside from extra room for a diaper, there are also some other key differences you need to be aware of before buying clothing for your three-year-old. Consider the following.

  • A size 3T is slightly smaller and shorter than a size 3. A size 3 is longer and more slender to accommodate the body changes that are occurring around the age of three.
  • A size 3T usually has an elastic waist to accommodate bulky diapers. Generally, size 3 clothing will not have an elastic waist, but this is not always correct.
  • The sleeve lengths are also slightly different.
  • Size 3T clothing usually features more baby-like patterns, while size 3 has more of an older child look.

Which Is Bigger: 3T or Size 3?

If you are considering which size is bigger, you need to know it is size 3. Size 3 is larger than a 3T. Even though this is usual, it may not be the norm.

Because of the lack of a universal sizing system, clothing manufacturers each have their own size dimensions in mind. When in doubt, try it on first.

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How to Measure Your Child for a Perfect Fit

Getting the right fit is essential. Your child also needs room to grow into the clothes so you are not purchasing a new outfit every few days.

Taking the following steps will help ensure you know your child’s measurements before you go clothes shopping.

  • Measure your child’s chest at the broadest part. Make sure your child is standing tall, yet relaxed. Measure around the chest, just under the arms.
  • Take your child’s waist measurement from around the belly button area. This is considered the natural waist. Make sure your child is not holding his or her breath.
  • You should also measure your child’s height. Have your child stand against a wall, and make a small pencil mark at the top of the child’s head. Measure from the floor to the mark with a measuring tape.
measuring a child's height

Final Thoughts

As new clothing lines come on the market, those cute styles tempt us to buy, but how can parents choose the right size? Now, you know the key differences between sizes 3T and 3.

Although the contrasts are subtle, they can cause clothing to fit your child differently, depending on whether he or she is wearing a diaper or not.

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