UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN MEDICAL FOUNDATION
CLINICAL POLICY AND PROCEDURE
TITLE: MEASURING HEAD CIRCUMFERENCE IN INFANTS
Effective Date: October, 2002 Approval: See Authorization
Supersedes Protocol: None Contact: Clinical Staff Education
Reviewed October, 2003 March, 2005 November, 2007 January, 2008
May 2009 May 2010 October 2011
PURPOSE: To provide guidelines for measuring head circumference in infants at
DEFINITION: Head circumference may be measured at birth and at specified intervals
of time to determine the infant’s growth and development. Head circumference
measurement also may be performed as part of an assessment for specific conditions such
as hydrocephalus, in which the head is larger than normal. The head circumference of
newborns is approximately 35 cm and should increase approximately 3 cm in 6 weeks.
POLICY: The clinical staff will utilize the following guidelines to measure the head
circumference of a UWMF infant.
An infant’s head circumference is to be measured and recorded, rather than simply
recording a stated measurement from the parents, guardians or caretaker.
SUPPLIES: Measuring device (preferably a circular tape measure), provider’s order,
1. Check provider’s order and clarify any inconsistencies.
2. Wash hands and gather equipment.
3. Introduce yourself to the parent(s)/caregiver(s) and identify the patient by verifying
name and date of birth.
4. Provide good light and provide privacy by closing curtains or door.
5. Explain procedure to the parent(s)/caregiver(s).
6. Review infant’s previous head circumference measurement.
7. Place a clean towel, sheet or chux on a hard surface..
8. Lay the infant in a supine position.
NOTE: staff may measure head circumference while sitting infant on parent(s),
cargiver(s) lap if this would be helpful for a more accurate reading.
9. Keep your hands on the infant at all times.
10. Place tape measure around the fullest part of the infant’s head over the brow. To
arrive at greatest circumference draw the tape snugly across center of forehead and
most prominent portion of posterior head (occipital)
11. Discuss the findings with the parent(s)/caregiver(s).
12. Wash hands.
13. Record the infant’s measurement, in centimers, in the patient’s electronic medical
LaVay Morrison, RN, BSN, Clinical Staff Educator
Ronnie Peterson, R.N., M.S., Manager of Clinical Support
Perry, A.G. & Potter, P.A. (2002). Clinical nursing skills & techniques. (5th
ed.). St. Louis, MO: Mosby.
Perry, A.G. & Potter, P.A. (2009). Fundamentals of nursing. (7th ed.). Hall, A.
& Stockert, P.A. (Eds.). St. Louis, MO: Mosby Elsevier.
Kowalak, J. P. (Ed.). (2009). Lippincott’s nursing procedures (5th ed.).
Ambler, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Medical Director Date