When it comes to choosing the best scale for measuring newborns, it can be easy to opt for the lightest and most convenient option – the Chatillon Hanging Scale. Commonly used among midwives, the hanging scale is small enough to tuck into a midwifery bag, making it one less thing to lug around when performing home visits. But are they really effective?
The major issue we have come across in our years of feedback from midwives using scales of many shapes and sizes, is that hanging scales are not always accurate. On average they tend to be inaccurate by up to 4 oz. They are also limited in their scope of use because a hanging scale can't be used beyond the first few days and are ineffective in measuring small weight gains.
So why are they so popular? They’re affordable and small. However, there are a variety of portable digital scales that we recommend using in place of hanging scales and here’s why.
Portable scales are designed to be lightweight and compact, so you can store them in your trunk if you are a traveling practitioner, or you can store them in a small closet space if you work at a birth center or facility. Some designs like the Health O Meter 8320KL Digital Portable Pediatric Tray Scale (featured above) have built-in handles and fold in half, while others, like the Health O Meter 549KL Digital Pediatric Tray Scales, have optional carry cases.
The readings of digital scales that sit firmly on flat surfaces allow for more stability, and are calibrated to offer you more accurate readings than mechanical hanging scales. Depending on your preference, there are scales that also offer measurements in both pounds and kilograms. The Health O Meter 553KL Digital Pediatric Tray Scale for example, weighs up to 44 lbs in 1/2 oz increments in both kilograms and pounds.
No need to re-weigh a baby if you forgot to jot down the weight, digital scales offer helpful technology that holds the weight measurement for a few minutes after the baby is removed, or has an auto-recall option. It is also a lot easier and faster to place a baby on a stationary scale than it is to prepare a sling. Hanging scales also have no way of recalling a weight measurement. Recall is particularly handy after birth when there’s a time crunch for midwives wanting to do all the necessary testing quickly so that babies can be reunited with their mothers as soon as possible.
The most important feature that a scale offers is the ability to use it for neonates as well as infants up to a few years old. Since many midwives do follow-ups with families, having a scale to weigh babies as they grow is crucial. The same applies to birth centers or midwifery offices where families attend follow-up appointments. Having a portable scale that can be tucked away until needed is a great space saver.
So when considering which scale is best for your practice, take a minute to think of how it will serve you over the long term. If you plan on using it beyond birth, consider the variety of quality scales available to you that are now designed to be convenient too.
If you enjoyed this post, the topics covered in the following blog posts may also be of interest to you: 'Entering the New Age of Midwifery', 'How to Choose Sutures', and 'Iron Duck Bags: American Made Strength'. Click the post title to view the full article, or scroll through our complete archive of posts by clicking here.
Written By: Samantha Darling for Cascade HealthCare Products