Length and Height/Stature

Growth is the single most important indicator of a child’s overall health and wellbeing.

For more information, refer to Maternal and Child Health Service: Practice Guidelines 2009 (PDF - 792Kb) (pdf - 791.74kb)

Length measurement for children less than two years

Equipment

  • Length is measured in the recumbent position using an infantometer (infant length board) designed for the purpose.
  • The board should have a firm, flat horizontal surface with a measuring tape in 1 mm (0.1 cm) increments.
  • The tape or measurements should be fixed, and easily read.
  • The device has a fixed head-board at right angle to the tape.
  • And a smoothly-moving foot-board perpendicular to the tape.

Preparation

  • Remove the child's shoes and socks if applicable.

Procedure

  • Ask the parent/carer to place the child on the lengthboard.
  • The child should be facing vertically upwards with the crown of the head firmly on the headboard.
  • Ensure the child's body and pelvis are straight along the measuring device.
  • Parent holds the child's head against the immovable headboard.
  • A second person straightens both of the child's legs, holds the feet with toes pointing directly up and moves the foot-board into position against the child's feet.

Recording

  • Record length to the nearest 0.1 cm.
  • Complete the measurement quickly.
  • Plot length on the WHO length chart.
  • Record whether length or height/stature has been measured because length is greater than height/stature by up to 2 cm.

Height/stature measurement for children 2 years and older

Equipment

  • Height is measured in the standing position using a stadiometer (height measurer) or a correctly installed 'pull down' measure which are designed for the purpose.
  • A stadiometer consists of a vertical board with an attached metric ruler with an easily moveable horizontal headboard that can be brought into contact with the most superior part of the head; ideally spring loaded.
  • The equipment has a wide and stable platform, or firm uncarpeted floor as the base.
  • Equipment should be accurately and firmly mounted on a wall.
  • Ensure that fixed position devices have been installed correctly, and re-check after moving or re-location.
  • Should have an easy to read, stable tape or digital readout in 0.1 cm increments.

Preparation

  • Show the child the stadiometer / height measurer and explain you are going to see how tall they are growing.
  • It can be helpful to measure the parent first if the child is hesitant.
  • Take the child over to the height measurer and make sure they face away from the equipment.
  • Assist the child to remove their shoes.

Procedure

  • Ask or help the child to stand facing away from the stadiometer or wall:
    • with bare feet close together
    • legs straight
    • arms at sides and shoulders relaxed.
  • Ask the child to look straight ahead 'like a soldier', and take a big breath in and out to relax, but do not extend the mastoid process.
  • Check that their arms are by their sides, and shoulders relaxed.
  • Double check their position, making sure their knees are straight, heels on the floor and head, shoulder blades, bottom and heels are in contact with the stadiometer or the wall.
  • Bring the measuring device down to rest on the child's head.
  • Crouch down so your eye is level with the height.

Recording

  • Record height to the nearest 0.1 cm
  • Plot height on the CDC height for age growth chart
  • Record whether length or height / stature has been measured because length is greater than height/stature by up to 2 cm.

Length versus height/stature measurement for the 2 year old child

  • In Maternal and Child Health practice, a child's height / stature is measured at two years and over
  • If height / stature cannot be measured, the child can have length measured (in recumbent position).
  • Record whether length or height / stature has been measured because length is greater than height/stature by up to 2 cm.
  • Use the appropriate growth chart to plot growth. WHO chart for length and the CDC chart for height/stature.

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