What is Failure to Thrive?

The term ‘failure to thrive’ sounds pretty ominous, especially when a health professional is using it to describe your baby. In reality, however, it simply means your child weighs less than other children her age. It can even be used to describe unexpected weight loss in children.

You may have noticed that health professionals regularly weigh and measure your baby. This data is then compared to a growth chart. Plotting your child’s progress on the growth chart allows health professionals to see whether your child is growing as might be expected for her birth weight.

What causes failure to thrive?

If your child is diagnosed with failure to thrive, your health professional will work with you to determine the cause. Possible causes include:

  • Difficulty establishing breastfeeding – some babies are diagnosed with failure to thrive after a rocky start to breastfeeding. Getting advice from a lactation consultant could help you to determine the problem and help you overcome it so you can continue breastfeeding.
  • Illness – if your baby has been under the weather, she may have gone off her food for a short period, and not eaten as much as usual. This could cause an unexpected drop in weight.
  • Reflux or vomiting – suffering from either of these could put your baby off her food.
  • Sickness bug – if your baby has been suffering from a sickness bug, she might have lost a little weight.
  • Weaning difficulties – some babies are diagnosed with failure to thrive after encountering difficulties when it’s time to wean onto solid foods.

Treatment for failure to thrive

Once the problem has been diagnosed and the cause has been determined, your health professional will be able to best advise you of what to do next. Some good advice may be all you need to help your baby get back on track.

If you are worried that your baby may be failing to thrive, speak to your healthcare provider for advice. Remember, just because your baby is smaller than her friends, this doesn’t mean she will be failing to thrive. If you feel worried, however, it’s always worth getting it checked out.

Has your baby been diagnosed with failure to thrive?

Written by Fiona (@Fiona_Peacock), mother, writer and lover of all things baby related.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2016. All rights reserved.