Need some new baby clothing but don’t have a clue how the sizing works? You’re not alone! Sometimes it feels like children’s clothing companies deliberately make sizing as complicated as possible – throw in some European variations and you’re bound to get lost quickly!
To help, we have put together this handy guide to help you navigate seemingly impossible baby sizings. With a little practice, you are bound to get the hang of working out what size you need super quickly!
American Baby Sizing
Firstly, the American system for baby sizing. Most brands that use American sizing will use the age of the child – either in months, years, or more generic terms like ‘newborn.’
‘Months’ Sizing System
Sizing with months is most common for very young children and is designed to fit a baby that is within the size range. 3 to 6 month sizes, for example, will have a loose fit when the baby is three months but will fit a bit more snugly by the time the baby is six months old.
You also need to be aware that some brands still use this age range system without giving you the whole range.
When this happens, you need to work out the size you need by working down from a larger size to the next available size until you find the range.
So if we use the 3 to 6 month size example again, this type of size system will call this size ‘6 months.’ The next size down that is available will be 3 months so you know you’re in the correct 3 to 6 month range.
‘Years’ Sizing System
The sizes in this system will usually fit children who are around that age.
A size 6 would therefore fit a child that is around 6 years of age, with the garment being a bit baggy when they first turn six and then fitting a little tighter a year later.
Like months sizing, some brands are sized with ranges. This means that a size 6 will be designed to fit a child that is the same size as a 5 to 6 garment.
Generic Terms Sizing System
Some of the first sizes available are preemie and newborn. Rather than go by age, these clothes are sized by weight.
A preemie size – short for premature – fits babies that are roughly 5 to 7lb. Some brands offer clothes that are smaller again. These are often called micro-preemie sizes or preemies under 5lbs.
Remember that you will not need these sizes unless you are buying for a premature baby.
Newborn sizes are similar to preemie sizes in that they go by weight rather than age.
You can safely expect newborn sizes to fit a baby that weighs under 9lb. As with adult clothes, some brands do run small and so are better suited to a baby that is closer to 7lb.
Some babies skip these sizes altogether, especially if they are born weighing over 7lb.
It is probably best to avoid buying too many clothes in these sizes or opting for super stretchy fabrics, that way the clothes will fit for a bit longer.
European Baby Sizing
Mercifully, European sizing is a more simple system.
European sizes are measured in centimeters, rather than the average size of a child at a given age like the American system. Most brands do not offer a range of sizes but will instead just size with a single number.
To get the correct size for European baby clothes, you first need to measure the length of the baby in centimeters and this will give you an idea of the size you need.
The most common differences between brands are how they display sizes – some brands are very accurate when measuring the length of their garments and so there are lots of odd numbers, while other brands stick to easy and round numbers.
European Size Guide
- Anything less than 50 – this size is the same as an American preemie and will fit babies that weigh between 5 and 7lb.
- 50-56 – this size is comparable to a newborn size in American terms and will fit any baby that weighs under 9lb.
- 56-62 – this size is for babies that weigh 7 to 12lb. This is comparable to 0-3 month American sizing. Remember that the garment will be big if they are in the younger end of the age range but they will soon grow into it.
- 62-68 – most babies that weigh between 12 and 17lb will fit this size.
- 68-74 – this size tends to fit babies that weigh between 17 and 20lb. This is roughly an American 6-9 month size.
- 74-80 – this roughly translates to an American size 9 to 12 months and will fit babies that weigh between 22 and 27lb.
- 86-92 – now we are getting into toddler sizing. You can expect this size to fit an eighteen to twenty-four month old that weighs between 27 and 30lb.
- 92-98 – this is the same size as an American 2-3 years and will fit a child that weighs between 30 and 33lb.
- 98-104 – this is for a child that weighs 33 to 36lb which is similar to an American size 3 to 4 years.
Things To Remember
There will almost always be some overlap between sizes regardless of if the sizing system is American or European.
The baby you are buying for will probably fit into two different sizes at any given time so we suggest opting for a slightly larger size as this will make the clothes wearable for a bit longer.
American sizes in particular are more likely to differ from brand to brand, increasing the number of sizes that will be appropriate for the baby. This is primarily because brands have different ideas of what the weight and length of the child mean for their age.
It is always best to check with the brand’s own sizing guide if you are unsure. This is easily available online but will also be displayed somewhere in the store. Happy shopping!
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are The Most Important Things In A Baby’s Clothing?
When you are shopping for baby clothes, there are some things that you need to remember that you wouldn’t think about when buying for yourself.
Firstly, think about the fastenings and openings. The best baby clothes are super easy to open and fasten, making changing time much easier and far less stressful! You also need to think about fabric – any fabric that is difficult to wash will not be appreciated!
Try to find easy-care fabrics wherever possible and get the softest clothes possible as it is going to be sitting on delicate or possibly irritated sensitive skin.
What Are Clothing Hazards For Babies?
Safety is of paramount importance for young children, particularly ones that are at the age of putting things in their mouth. This is a normal developmental stage in a child’s life but we do need to keep them as safe as possible!
Avoid hoods and hats with cords or drawstrings as these pose an obvious risk. Same for necklaces, ribbons, hairbands, headbands, belts, and bags or purses with straps.
These can all get easily wrapped around necks, limbs, or joints and could potentially cause injury.
They are all also easy to get caught on things like furniture and playground equipment and could lead to broken bones and other serious injuries.
How Many Baby Clothes Do I Need?
The number of clothes you need for a baby will vary depending on the variations of a few factors.
If the baby was born in the winter, for example, they will need more warm onesies, jumpers, and hats compared to a baby born in the height of summer.
You also need to think about how much laundry you are prepared to do. On average, a baby will need a new outfit once or twice a day so if you are prepared to do a lot of laundry, you only need a few outfits.
If, however, you are likely to wait a while between washes then you will need more clothes. It is always better to overestimate than to underestimate!