Finding clothes that fit a growing child can be extremely confusing. Your child may be long and lanky, but you might still need room for a diaper or a pull-up.

Because dressing and undressing a child in-store can lead to meltdowns, the tips below may be useful as you order children’s clothing online.

In this article, we will break down the differences between sizes 5 and 5T so you can have a better idea of what size your child needs. 

5 year old boy and girl clothes

What Children’s Clothing Sizes Mean

Technically, a 5 year old should be able to wear clothing that is size 5. However, children grow at different rates. If your child is taller than average, you may need to get them into a 6 or 7 at the age of 5.

The letter “T” stands for toddler. This indicates that the garment has space for a diaper or a pull-up. It also may indicate that the garment has an elastic waist, which is always helpful when dealing with a diaper.

Baby Fat Considerations

As a general rule, toddlers are a bit closer to babies in their fat concentrations. Toddlers tend to retain a bit of chubbiness, though they are generally working that off.

Most children’s garments with a size that includes a “T” offer more space in the seat and more stretch at the waistband.

Check out: 3T vs 3 Clothing size

Measure Twice

Once your child doesn’t need diapers, the fit of their clothing can actually become more problematic.

You may have a dependable waist measurement, but often a lean child will have smaller hips than their waist, meaning that clothing that’s supposed to fit doesn’t.

Overalls are cute, but accidents happen and overalls can be hard to remove quickly.

Old Navy offers a wide variety of children’s clothing in regular, slim and plus. The overall height recommendation for a boy’s size 5 is between 42 and 45 inches.

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The waist for a regular is 22.5 and the hip or seat is 24.25. With such a small gap between waist and seat, there’s no space for a diaper inside these jeans.

That being said, there is room for your child to grow.

The Old Navy 5T size chart includes a weight recommendation and is a bit smaller in the waist and hips, though the height is the same.

Father measuring daughter's height near black wall

However, the build of toddler jeans is much more flexible and forgiving. Toddler jeans have an elastic waist and a bit boxier build.

Be aware that toddler garments may be a bit shorter, particularly at the inseam, than regularly sized clothes for children.

Pants are generally harder to fit than tops, but there are differences between 5T and 5 in Old Navy tops for children. The 5T top measures up to 23 inches at the chest, 21 at the waist and 23 at the hip.

A similar shirt in size 5 for a boy also includes a 23 inch chest but gives us no information on the waist. As a general rule, children’s clothing, once out of the toddler stage, is cut fairly straight.

Because toddlers can tend to be a bit chubby, the waist measurement is more significant.

girls pants with elastic waist

What About the Dash?

There are many lines of clothing for children that combine 4 and 5 with a dash, then move up to 6 to 8 or and 6 to 6X.

Hanes underwear for boys 4-5 has a 22 inch waist and a top recommended weight of 43 pounds. The next size up goes all the way to 68 pounds.

Of course, there’s no way to try on underwear. Worse, if the pack you buy is too small, you will probably not be able to return it.

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If you’re concerned about sizing, consider having your child try on a bathing suit to get an idea of the best size for new underwear.

Check out: 2T vs 2 vs 24 months Clothing sizes

What About XS, S, M, & L?

Confusion may increase when you start to see codes for extra-small, small, medium and large. These size markers are most often found on tops, though you will also see them on sweat bottoms.

As a general rule, an XS is a size 5. Again, keep your measuring tape handy.

Make sure you also get a weight on your child before you place your order. Growth spurts can come on quickly, and a 45 pound child that’s suddenly taller than you remember will likely need a slim in the next size up.

Keep Your Child Clothed Without Breaking the Bank

To protect your budget and keep your children comfortable, it’s a good idea to buy underwear that fits now, rather than buying the next size up.

Clothes that will give your child room to grow, such as school pants, can be purchased a bit larger.

Avoid seasonal garments unless you’re focused on elastic waists. Shorts for next summer may be fine to buy on fall clearance, but fitted garments may be a waist of money.

If you’re almost done with potty training and plan to move them out of toddler garments, consider getting something with a drawstring as well as elastic so that extra diaper space doesn’t cause a poor fit.

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