Retailers are being urged to sign up to new 'good practice' guidelines for stores selling children's clothing, joining firms including George, Next, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury's and Tesco who helped develop the code.

The guidelines were launched today (6 June) by the British Retail Consortium (BRC), and coincide with the release of a Government-commissioned review into the commercialisation and sexualisation of children.

Other retailers who have signed up to the 'Responsible Retailing: BRC Childrenswear Guidelines' include Debenhams, Home Retail Group (Argos), John Lewis  and Peacocks.

The document was launched in response to several instances of retailers selling "inappropriate" products for children such as such as padded bras, high heels and T-shirts with suggestive slogans. It spells out the principles stores should follow when deciding what children's wear to stock.

Areas covered include garment styles, fabrics and marketing of all clothing, footwear and accessories designed and marketed for the under 12s, but not teenage fashion or babywear.

"Fabrics and cuts should provide for modesty," the booklet says, adding that "slogans and imagery must be age appropriate and without undesirable associations or connections, suggestive, demeaning, derogative or political material.

"Knickers and pants must provide for modesty. Thongs are not appropriate. Footwear must provide a stable supporting shoe with a heel of not more than 2.5cm particularly for younger children."

"These new guidelines provide extra reassurance for parents that these companies are just as concerned as they are about what their children wear," said Jane Bevis, BRC director of public affairs.

She adds: "Responsible retailers assess all new products before they go into store, especially products for children. Buyers take into account the styling of clothes, the materials they're made from and how they are decorated.

"Children's clothing needs to withstand play and provide freedom and modesty as children run or climb. This guidance helps everyone understand the decision-making processes retailers go through."

"We take our responsibility as the largest childrens' wear retailer in the UK extremely seriously," says Andrew Moore, managing director of the George at Asda business.

While Luke Jensen, Sainsbury's managing director non food, notes: "We already have in place a rigorous system of checks to ensure that none of our children's wear products is unsuitable so we were delighted to support this initiative."

At Tesco, according to clothing director Richard Jones, "we have a team of mums to approve each and every children's clothing line on sale at Tesco."