How to measure for children's clothes

Updated February 21, 2017

Whether you're ordering children's clothes online from a major retailer or working out the details of a custom order, knowing how to measure a child can help you make sure that everything fits perfectly. Sizes and body shapes differ dramatically, so this can be the only way to get a really good fit. Note the measurements down to carry as a reference, both to judge fit now and estimate sizes you might need next year. Fortunately, a few simple measurements will give you all the information necessary for shopping or making your own children's clothes.

Stand your child against a wall with her heels flat and bare feet to measure her height. Mark the top of the head, then measure from the mark to the floor. Measure the length of an infant by laying the child out along your tape measure. Have an extra set of hands available to get an accurate length measurement on an active baby.

Hold the tape measure parallel to the floor and wrap around the chest, under the arms. Take this measurement at the fullest part of the chest. Hold the tape snugly, but not too tight. Note the chest measurement.

Measure the waist at the natural waistline, slightly above the navel. For an accurate measurement, measure around bare skin or over a thin undershirt, rather than trousers.

Take the hip measurement at the fullest point of the hips and buttocks, holding the tape measure in a straight line parallel to the floor. Again, this measurement should be taken over thin underwear or leggings rather than thicker trousers.

Measure the back torso by holding the tape measure perpendicular to the floor. Place one end at the base of the neck and measure from the base of the neck to the natural waistline to get the back waist measurement.

Take inseam and skirt length measurements using garments that fit well. Measure the inseam of a pair of trousers from the crotch seam to the cuff. Check skirt length by measuring from the natural waist to the hemline. Take these measurements on the child if clothing is not available by measuring from the crotch to the desired pant length or the waist to the desired skirt length, holding the tape measure vertically.


You may want to weigh your child; however, since everyone carries weight differently, this may not be an accurate indicator.


While these basic measurements will work for most children's clothing, if you suspect special fit issues, measure accordingly.

Things You'll Need

  • Cloth tape measure
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About the Author

With a master's degree in art history from the University of Missouri-Columbia, Michelle Powell-Smith has been writing professionally for more than a decade. An avid knitter and mother of four, she has written extensively on a wide variety of subjects, including education, test preparation, parenting, crafts and fashion.