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Three children outdoors, smiling  with arms around each other
Three children outdoors, smiling  with arms around each other

Measuring children accurately matters.

To effectively evaluate your child’s growth, the doctor depends on accurate measurement and regular plotting on a growth chart. Let’s explore the proper equipment and procedures, so you’ll know your child is being measured accurately.

To effectively evaluate your child’s growth, the doctor depends on accurate measurement and regular plotting on a growth chart. Let’s explore the proper equipment and procedures, so you’ll know your child is being measured accurately.

5 things every parent should know about how their child is measured.

Three children outdoors, lying in the grass with bare feet, one child with legs raised up
Three children outdoors, lying in the grass with bare feet, one child with legs raised up

Correct measuring equipment matters.

Correct measuring equipment matters.

Length is measured with an infantometer

Infant being measured for length with an infantometer by two health care providers
Infant being measured for length with an infantometer by two health care providers

Height is measured with a stadiometer

Young child being measured for height with a stadiometer  by a health care provider
Young child being measured for height with a stadiometer  by a health care provider

Infants and toddlers up to 2 years of age

Length is measured with an infantometer

Infant being measured for length with an infantometer by two health care providers
Infant being measured for length with an infantometer by two health care providers

Children 2 years and older

Height is measured with a stadiometer

Young child being measured for height with a stadiometer  by a health care provider
Young child being measured for height with a stadiometer  by a health care provider

Preparing your child for measuring is key.

Preparing your child for measuring is key.

  • Remove baby’s clothing 
  • Remove bigger kids’ shoes, socks, and outer clothing
  • Hair accessories or hats should be removed
  • Undo hairstyles that could interfere with measuring
  • Remove or loosen baby’s diaper to allow for extension of their legs

Proper measuring procedures are essential.

Proper measuring procedures are essential.

  • Two people are required and infant should never be left unattended
  • Infants are laid on their back with legs extended and head against the infantometer 
  • The infant’s head is held with chin up
  • The ifnant’s knees are gently pushed down and feet flexed against the infantometer and the length is recorded
  • The procedure is repeated 3 times. and results are averaged

This:

Illustration depicting proper measurement techniques for an infant with an infantometer and two people holding the infant's arms and legs
Illustration depicting proper measurement techniques for an infant with an infantometer and two people holding the infant's arms and legs

Not this:

Illustration depicting improper measurement techniques for an infant with a ruler and marks on paper
Illustration depicting improper measurement techniques for an infant with a ruler and marks on paper
  • Children stand fully erect on a flat surface with their back against a vertical surface
  • The child’s head is straight with eyes forward, chin level, and arms relaxed at their sides
  • Heels are flat and feet together with the back of the head, shoulder blades, buttocks, and heels touching the flat surface
  • The stadiometer headboard is moved onto the top of the head and height is recorded
  • The measurement is repeated 3 times and results are averaged

This:

Illustration depicting proper measurement techniques for a child with a stadiometer with head, back, and heels against the wall
Illustration depicting proper measurement techniques for a child with a stadiometer with head, back, and heels against the wall

Not this:

Illustration depicting improper measurement techniques for a child with a standing scale  with a hat on the head, shoes on the feet, knees bent
Illustration depicting improper measurement techniques for a child with a standing scale  with a hat on the head, shoes on the feet, knees bent

Infants and toddlers up to 2 years of age

  • Two people are required and infant should never be left unattended
  • Infants are laid on their back with legs extended and head against the infantometer 
  • The infant’s head is held with chin up
  • The infant’s knees are gently pushed down and feet flexed against the infantometer and the length is recorded
  • The procedure is repeated 3 times. and results are averaged 

This:

Illustration depicting proper measurement techniques for an infant with an infantometer and two people holding the infant's arms and legs
Illustration depicting proper measurement techniques for an infant with an infantometer and two people holding the infant's arms and legs

Not this:

Illustration depicting improper measurement techniques for an infant with a ruler and marks on paper
Illustration depicting improper measurement techniques for an infant with a ruler and marks on paper

Children 2 years and older

  • Children stand fully erect on a flat surface with their back against a vertical surface
  • The child’s head is straight with eyes forward, chin level, and arms relaxed at their sides
  • Heels are flat and feet together with the back of the head, shoulder blades, buttocks, and heels touching the flat surface
  • The stadiometer headboard is moved onto the top of the head and height is recorded
  • The measurement is repeated 3 times and results are averaged

This:

Illustration depicting proper measurement techniques for a child with a stadiometer with head, back, and heels against the wall
Illustration depicting proper measurement techniques for a child with a stadiometer with head, back, and heels against the wall

Not this:

Illustration depicting improper measurement techniques for a child with a standing scale with a hat on the head, shoes on the feet, knees bent
Illustration depicting improper measurement techniques for a child with a standing scale with a hat on the head, shoes on the feet, knees bent

Measuring mistakes sometimes happen.

Measuring mistakes sometimes happen.

Now you’re familiar with the proper equipment, preparation, and procedures for measuring your child. Here are a few examples of common measuring errors to look out for that may lead to inaccuracies:

Marking the exam table paper to measure an infant’s length – this method can result in inaccuracies when the paper moves or bunches up. 

Not asking for the child’s shoes and socks to be removed or hairstyles to be undone – these steps help ensure accurate measuring.

Measuring the child with the standing scale – this method makes it difficult for a child to stand with their back, shoulders, hips, and heels against the backboard.

Did you know?

According to a study that observed 307 children being measured in doctor’s offices at baseline, approximately 70% of those children were measured inaccurately. Accurate measurements were determined by pediatric endocrine nurses using correct equipment and technique.

Health care provider measuring a child on a standing scale

Did you know?

According to a study that observed 307 children being measured in doctor’s offices at baseline, approximately 70% of those children were measured inaccurately. Accurate measurements were determined by pediatric endocrine nurses using correct equipment and technique.

Health care provider measuring a child on a standing scale

Growth charts can be confusing.

Growth charts can be confusing.

Illustration of a growth chart
Illustration of a growth chart

Example of a growth chart

Example of a growth chart

Growth charts are tools that provide an overall picture of your child’s growth—but they can be confusing. If you find yourself wondering what exactly those dots, curves, and percentiles mean, you’re not alone. Let’s break it down:

All charts are not the same. Charts are for either boys or girls, and for up to 2 years or over 2 years of age.

Plotting = dotting. Your child’s height and weight are “plotted” when the doctor or nurse places a dot at the appropriate point on the proper growth chart, based on their age in months or years. 

Curves to compare. Various percentile curves are included to illustrate how your child’s measurement compares to other children of the same age 

Percentiles get all the attention. Percentiles are a quick way of comparing your child’s growth to that of other children of the same age. Learn the definition of percentile

Growth-related terms you may hear at the doctor’s office.

The measurement of an infant’s head, taken by wrapping a flexible measuring tape around it. Tracking head circumference throughout infancy can help identify growth issues.

The length of a child’s outstretched arms from the right middle fingertip to the left middle fingertip. Arm span can provide the doctor important information about growth.

One of 100 equal divisions of a series of items or data that indicates how many of a group are equal to or below that point. For example, a 6-year-old boy’s percentile score of 40 for height means that he is equal to or taller than 40% of 6-year-old boys.

The change in a child’s height over time. Your child’s doctor may track growth velocity (sometimes called "height velocity") to identify potential growth issues.

A figure based on a gender-specific formula that starts with each parent’s height. Your child’s doctor may use midparental target height to determine whether they are tracking to their potential target height.

Questions about growth disorders?

Arm yourself with knowledge about medical conditions that can affect growth.

Is it time to talk to the doctor?

Learn why, when, and how to talk to your child’s doctor about growth.

Why is accurate measurement important?

Precise measuring helps the doctor accurately assess your child’s growth. Incorrect measurements, like measurements above or below your child’s actual height mean errors in their growth chart. This may lead to delays in diagnosing medical conditions that affect growth.

Should my child be in the 100th percentile for height?

Scoring 100% on a test is terrific, but it’s not necessarily the goal when it comes to your child’s growth. For example, if your daughter is in the 60th percentile for height, it’s not “good” or “bad.” It just means that 60% of girls her age are shorter than her.

Stay up-to-date with information from Novo Nordisk.

•    Learn more about growth disorders
•    Get related news and updates
•    Stay informed about patient support services

Stay up-to-date with information from Novo Nordisk.

•    Learn more about growth disorders
•    Get related news and updates
•    Stay informed about patient support services