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Background: In developing countries, 80% of the births take place in the community. Methods: Birthweight, mid-arm and chest circumferences were measured in 294 newborns admitted in a tertiary-level hospital in Kolkata between April and August 2010. Colour-coded measuring tapes were devised using receiver operating characteristic curves to calculate the most sensitive and specific cut-off values to identify birthweight <2.5 and 1.8 kg. Result: There is no significant difference in accuracy of Mid-arm circumference (MAC) and Chest circumference (CC) for prediction of low birth weight and birthweight <1.8 kg. The tape has three zones, green [weight (wt) > 2.5 kg, MAC > 8.4 cm, CC > 30 cm], yellow (wt 2.5–1.8 kg, MAC 8.4–6.7 cm, CC 30–25.5 cm) indicating some risk, and red (wt < 1.8 kg, MAC < 6.7 cm, CC < 25.5 cm) indicating babies needing referral and admission in Level II neonatal care unit.