As a parent, you would want your baby to be hale and hearty. We all love it when our little munchkins are in the pink of health, crossing all the developmental milestones as they should. So, when you notice something off with their overall development, it can leave you worried. Some babies are naturally slimmer than most children their age, and usually, it comes down to their body types and genetics. However, there may be times when your little one is unusually puny, and their weight never reaches the medically recommended levels.
Being underweight is not a good thing, as it can usually lead to other complications. So, if your child doesn’t seem to be gaining weight no matter what you do, a condition called failure to thrive might be the culprit (1). If you’re already noticed it in your child, you shouldn’t waste any time consulting your doctor. In this article, we’ll discuss this issue, its symptoms, and the steps to take for parents. So, let’s dive in:
What Exactly Is “Failure To Thrive”?
At first, it may sound like something out of Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” theory, but failure to thrive is an actual medical term used to define insufficient or inadequate growth in an infant. If the doctor says that your baby is struggling with failure to thrive, it could mean that your baby weighs much less than what babies their age and gender should ideally weigh. When your baby has been diagnosed with failure to thrive, it could also mean that their nutritional needs are not being met, and they aren’t gaining enough weight at the necessary pace. Ideally, your baby’s weight should see an upward growth, but if it is stagnant, then it can be a cause for concern (2).
Symptoms Of Failure To Thrive
An unsteady growth rate is one of the most telltale signs of failure to thrive. The other common symptoms associated with this are as follows (1):
- Your baby may be irritable and cranky most of the time, even if there isn’t any evident reason to be in distress.
- You may notice a delay in reaching specific developmental milestones. For example, your baby must be taking longer than the estimated time to roll over, talk, or crawl.
- You may notice a lack in the display of emotions. Babies who struggle with failure to thrive often laugh less, make little to no eye contact, and rarely smiles.
- They have slow motor development.
- They often suffer from fatigue or unexplained tiredness. Sometimes, even after short activities that do not require much exertion, they may start to get tired.
- Teenagers who are diagnosed with failure to thrive often experience delayed puberty.
While these could be indicators of failure to thrive, medical consultation is required to confirm if your baby is actually suffering from this condition. It is not advisable to conclude on your own that your child is struggling with failure to thrive. You should not try to administer any kind of medicine on your own, taking someone else’s advice to cure the problem unless they are certified medical professionals.
What Causes Failure To Thrive?
It may help to know the causal factors of failure to thrive so that you can keep an eye out and avoid anything that may contribute to this condition. Some of the factors that cause failure to thrive are as follows (1), (3) :
1. Insufficient Calorie Intake
Babies require different caloric intakes at different parts of their developmental stages. For example, you can’t continue to give your baby a certain caloric measure at six months what you gave back at three months. It is essential to measure baby formula as per your child’s needs. If you are breastfeeding, watch out for hunger cues — babies on average feed almost eight to twelve times a day. It’s important for parents to know the caloric needs of their infants according to the age they are in and feed them accordingly.
2. Bad Baby Formula Brands
It is best to stick to baby formula brands that are recommended by medical health experts and approved by the Food And Drug Administration. Opt for baby formula that is hygienically processed, free from preservatives and chemicals, and safe to consume. Don’t fall for the latest fads or the flashy advertisements of products that claim to be the next best thing.
3. A Demand For More Calories
Sometimes, you may be giving the right amount of calories necessary for their age, but it could be that their body needs more. This could be in the case where your baby is under certain medications. At such times, extra food and nutritional intake will be necessary.
4. Underlying Medical Issues
Underlying medical health issues are another cause for failure to thrive in children. Some of these medical conditions are celiac disease, chronic constipation, allergies to certain foods or environmental factors, gastroesophageal reflux disease, or inflammatory bowel disease. If at any stage of their life, they suffered from these conditions, don’t forget to inform the doctor about it during the consultation.
5. Emotional Aspects
Parental withdrawal can lead to failure to thrive. Depriving your child of bonding and care, rejecting them, or turning hostile can all lead to failure to thrive too. Start breastfeeding
If your child has been diagnosed with failure to thrive, don’t freak out. Early detection of this condition can be a huge plus as far as treatment goes. After a proper diagnosis and the right treatment with good medications, your baby should be fine and lead an everyday life as usual. Providing your child with the right amount of nutrients can also help. Not treating it on time can lead to restricted growth, difficulties in learning, and emotional problems (2).
It is normal to worry when your child isn’t gaining weight. When you notice specific symptoms that align with failure to thrive, bring it to the notice of your doctor so it can be treated at the earliest. What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comments below!
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