September 05, 2022

Neck circumference measurement for children

Infant baby

This blog entry is part of a series on The Essential Guide to Children's Clothing Sizes.

Hello, I want to surprise my Grandsons with "hero" capes. What would be an average neck measurement for a 7 year? What would be an average neck measurement for an 11 year old? Thank you, Agnes Scales

I have received many questions about how to find the average neck measurement for children, especially infant children. The neck circumference measurement can be difficult to find for many reasons.

The 1939 Study

Ruth O'Brien, appointed by the Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Home Economics Department, created and executed an innovative body measurement study of children. As the study was developed, there were likely many discussions on what body measurements should be taken. The study report clearly states that some body measurements were excluded, despite the desire to not exclude anything. The reasons for exclusion varied. Consideration was given to the amount of time needed to measure each child. The more measurements taken, the longer it would take. Also remember, the study subjects were children. You can imagine that many children, especially the infants, would not tolerate a long measurement session. Then multiply that time with the need to measure thousands of children.

A decision was made to eliminate certain body measurements from the study, particularly for the infant size range. The excluded measurements were the neck base or circumference, hand width and length, and foot width and length. This decision has made it difficult to know the neck circumference for infants ever since.

Later Studies

Another body measurement study was conducted in the 1970's. This study was an anthropometric study to obtain body measurements that can be used for product design such as car seats, bicycles, etc. This study included hand width and length and foot width and length measurements. It did not include the neck circumference.

The ASTM D4910 chart has included a neck circumference measurement for infants for a long time, though it is not entirely clear how it was added. The ASTM charts have incorporated the SizeUSA study, which did measure the neck circumference for infants. In theory the measurements have some backing.

The British size study included the neck circumference measurement.

Where to find neck circumference measurements

Neck circumference measurements can be found on measurement standards available for purchase at Search for these standards:

D4910 - Infants

D6860 - Boys, sizes 6-24

D6192 - Girls, sizes 2-20

D6829 - Juniors, size 0-19

Neck base/circumference measurements can be found on the withdrawn measurement standards for:

PS45-71 - Young men

PS36-70 - Boys

PS54-72 - Girls

My book the Essential Guide to Children's Clothing Sizes includes an infant size chart which contains a derived neck circumference measurement. The book also includes complete copies of the withdrawn measurement standards in one place. The withdrawn measurement standards are no longer easily available on the Internet.

Why the neck circumference measurement might be needed

In general, the neck circumference measurement is NOT needed to draft basic block patterns. If you look at any pattern drafting manual, the neck measurement is not used. Do not let the lack of this measurement stop you from moving forward.

However, there are times when the neck circumference measurement may be useful. Some products, like necklaces may need this measurement. But even there, it may not be needed. A designer should take the step to "try-on" the product.

Be careful of an over reliance on one specific body measurement. There are many variables in which that measurement may not match your child. If working on a project for a specific child, either measure the child or measure the neckline from a piece of clothing. A piece of clothing will get you close to what measurement will be needed.

Neck circumference and obesity

Neck circumference is now a screening diagnostic for childhood obesity. In the last few years a study was conducted to confirm that the neck circumference has a correlation with other body measurements, such as waist circumference, and to confirm obesity. The goal of the study was to confirm the relationship and use of neck circumference in diagnostic criteria for obesity. The study does acknowledge certain deficiencies such as small sample size in one geographic location. Still, the use of the neck circumference in this way seems logical. Likely doctors will start to use this body measurement in screenings in the future.

September 02, 2022

How to find body measurement charts for children

Tape measure

This blog entry is part of a series on The Essential Guide to Children's Clothing Sizes.

There are a lot of children's body measurement charts floating around the Internet. But are they reliable? The answer to that question is difficult to determine. I have looked at some of the free charts out there and some are pretty good and others definitely have some anomalies. While I won't single out any particular chart, I would urge some caution on relying on whatever you can find freely on the Internet.

Some of the anomalies include inconsistent body measurements and differences between sizes. This may sound odd because you would expect that a size should measure what it measures. Having read a few measurement studies, the raw data that backs up body measurements are inconsistent between the sizes. But that raw data is difficult to work with, especially when it comes to grading. So statisticians and data analysts take the raw data and average it out. Then they take the average body measurements and adjust the numbers up or down small amounts to obtain numbers that are easy to work with as a convenience for pattern making and grading. This type of data manipulation does not result in fit anomalies as might be expected despite cries of vanity sizing and inaccuracies.

It's hard to say how these free charts available on the Internet came about. I suspect many of them are based off of cribbed data from various retailers. Some may be based on measuring some children. Some may be straight from official measurement studies. Regardless, caution is warranted.

You can use the free charts on the Internet, if you choose. It may be a place to start. It may also be a source of frustration if things aren't working quite right in your product development.

However, there are places to acquire body measurement charts. Some free, some not.

ASTM is an organization that develops standards, including body measurement standards. However, there standards are not free and contain restrictions on their use. This is the place for the most up-to-date measurement standards with sizing studies to back most of it up. Search for these standards on the Internet to find them.

D4910 - Size standard for infants, sizes preemie -24M

D6860 - Size standard for Boys, sizes 6-24, Husky

D6192 - Size standard for Girls, sizes 2-20, (Regular and Slim), plus sizes

D6829 - Size standard for Juniors, size 0-19

The U.S. government created a series of body measurement standards, which were in use into the 1980's. They were later withdrawn in favor of the ASTM standards. However, these charts are in the public domain and can still be found with some difficulty. In recent years the government has even pulled these from the Internet. They may still be found at government document repositories located within various libraries around the country or requested through I include complete copies of these standards in my book The Essential Guide to Children's Clothing Sizes. I created cleaned up versions of these standards that are easier to read in the appendix. I also include missing measurements from the original standard, which are the neck circumference, hand, and foot lengths and widths.

CS151-50 - Children

PS45-71 - Young Men

PS36-70 - Boys

PS54-72 - Girls

It is true that the withdrawn standards are a bit out of date. However, even the purchased, most up-to-date measurement charts from ASTM are based on this earlier standard. ASTM has added some sizes and refined some of the body measurements, but the similarities are still there. In other words, you can use the withdrawn standards as a good starting point in your product development and not be too far off. You will at least have a better foundation than using body measurement charts from unknown sources with questionable measurement data.

For this and more, see The Essential Guide to Children's Clothing Sizes.

August 31, 2022

Can children's clothing sizes be improved?

Little girl in a field

This blog is part of a series about The Essential Guide To Children's Clothing.

Any person that shops for children's clothing often becomes frustrated in their shopping experience. There appears to be a disconnect between what the retailer or brand are stating is one size and what the child actually fits. Why does this happen? Is there a better way?

It is true that age based size labels are sometimes inaccurate, or at least appear inaccurate. A child's body size and shape is influenced by a lot of different factors. Those factors include genetics, ethnicity, income demographic, diet, and nutrition. Children's clothing sizes vary because of this and other factors.

Manufacturers specialize on product type and a customer profile. This is true even in children's clothing. There is a size standard which exists for children's clothing, but manufacturers and designers will adapt or modify their product to fit their customer profile. This is not a bad thing. Children are individuals with their own unique characteristics. 

Many people complain that there needs to be a clear standard and by conforming to that standard we will solve sizing problems. Is it realistic to compel the industry to conform to a single size standard for children? By doing this, you will be guaranteed to never find clothing that fits all children at all times. There would always be a child that will not find clothing that fits if there is only one standard. Flexibility is needed in such a diverse marketplace. So while there is a general size standard that can be purchased, it may or may not be followed all that closely.

There are ways to make things easier for customers. Providing clear size charts and how to measure guides in the retail store and online can help customers select the right size. While it may be frustrating, customers have the ability to shop the market for alternate brands or sizes that fit their child. Variation is actually a good thing.

For this and more, see The Essential Guide to Children's Clothing Sizes.