School shirts

A challenge you may be faced with when settling into life in Australia is finding clothes to fit your baby or child. Families relocating to Australia with school age children may need to order school uniforms before leaving their country of origin so understanding how kids’ clothing sizes work here is important. In this article we offer Mum’s guide to baby and children’s clothes sizing in Australia. We relocated from the UK to Australia so we’ve provided a few comparisons.

Baby clothes sizing in Australia

When we arrived in Sydney our children were past the 000 stage, but we know from buying baby gifts for friends that the 0’s on baby clothes sizing in Australia are enough to make mums more than a little cross eyed!

Bonds are the Aussie brand ubiquitous with baby clothing (and underwear in general); with this in mind we’re sharing their sizing the image below.

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For the uninitiated all the 0s can be confusing. Baby sizing in Australia isn’t as immediately obvious as it might be elsewhere where items are clearly labelled by month (1 – 3 months, 3 – 6 months etc). As well as the sizes on the Bonds chart above you’ll also find 00000 for premature babies.

Before we get too hung up on the Bonds sizing chart we should point out that baby clothing sizes in Target, Big W and Cotton On aren’t necessarily in synch with Bonds. For example, we found that in Dymples baby clothing (sold at Big W) size 0 corresponds to “12 – 18 months”. According to Target and Cotton On’s size charts, their size 0 fits babies from “6 to 12 months”. If you glance at the Bonds size chart again you’ll see that a Bonds size 0 is “up to 9 months”. In four different products we have three different age ranges for size “0” – not easy for mums moving to Australia with a baby.

The only advice we can give is that when shopping for babies in Australia you need to read the labels carefully. Unfortunately it’s the 0’s that stand out clearly on most baby clothing labels and you often have to hunt inside the garment to check the corresponding age range. You should also check signs above clothing racks as most stores display charts, age ranges and measurements.

If you have access to New Zealand brand Pumpkin Patch, which we discovered in our local Sydney shopping mall, they label baby clothes by age so you avoid going cross eyed with the 0s.

Toddler clothes sizing in Australia

When we arrived in Sydney our youngest son was 16 months old and Mum was looking everywhere for clothing labelled 12 – 18 months or 1 – 1.5 years. Now that we’ve reviewed the size charts provided by different stores we realise that size 0 would have be appropriate for our toddler in some instances. We made the fairly natural assumption that 0 represents a size range for children who are less than one year old.

As with baby clothing, the size range for toddlers will depend on the store; but you could be looking at sizes 0 –2.

Girl’s and boy’s clothing sizes in Australia

From size “1”, girls’ and boys’ clothing sizes in Australia count up to “10” where the number roughly represents the child’s age. From size “10” the step up in sizes slows down and there isn’t a size per year, most stores stock size “10” then size “12”, “14” and “16” (“11”, “13” and “15” aren’t common).

Check size charts above clothing racks

Here are a few sizing charts from Australian stores that typically offer good value children’s clothing;

We have also found Myer a good place to shop for children’s clothing, particularly on sale days if you’re looking for international brands. Because they stock such a broad range of products by different designers it’s not possible to share sizing charts.

Comparing UK and Australian children’s clothes sizes

We’ve compared the measurements of several different stores and feel that most children moving to Australia from the UK will need to try several sizes until you get used to the sizing in Australian stores.  For example, the height measurements of a UK (Mothercare or Asda) size 4-5 years sit exactly between an Australian (Target or Cotton On) size 4 and 5.

We did similar analysis for a 13 year old who might be wearing 12 – 13 years or 13 – 14 years in the UK. If they’re wearing 12 – 13 years in the UK the measurements are most similar to a size “12” in Australia. Kids wearing size 13 – 14 years in the UK may need a size “14” or “16” depending on their height. There aren’t many exact matches.

School uniform sizing in Australia

This article has highlighted the way children’s clothes sizing works in Australia and it’s easy to see that once you’re in Aus you’ll need to shop around to find sizes that fit your children; but what if you need to order school uniform before you leave your country of origin?

If you’ve already enrolled in school and have been sent the uniform list it should include detailed sizing information i.e. the measurements as well as the sizes available. If it doesn’t you could ask who the supplier of the school uniform is and look them up online.

We’re familiar with Midford, one of Australia’s oldest school uniform designers. Their sizing chart is available here, they also provide tips on measuring your child.

School uniform sizes for girls and boys work the same as general clothing; they typically start at size “4”, count up to size “10” then count up in twos – “12”, “14”, “16” etc.

When our son started school aged 4.5 (in Sydney) we found size “4” very hard to find; uniform shops stock few of these sizes because children in NSW typically start school older. Our son started school wearing size “5” and “6” which will probably start fitting him sometime next year!

A word of encouragement regarding school uniform is that the designs we’ve seen make sizing flexible; boy’s shorts have elastic waists and draw strings to adjust the size, girls get away with wearing longer dresses and shirt sleeves can be rolled up.

Like clothes shopping for adults children’s clothes sizing the world over is hit and miss. Where the clothes are designed and made will influence the cut and measurements of the garments.

What’s your experience of clothes shopping for children in Australia and the sizing options available? Did you easily find your child or children’s sizes when you moved to Australia? How did you get on with buying your first school uniforms? We’d love you to share your experiences, tips and comments and help other families moving to Aus. Thank you.

P.S. We’ll be writing about shoe sizing for kids very soon.

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