Failure to Thrive

Those are words that no mom wants to hear.  But, those are words that I’ve heard several times over the last few months.  Apparently, because Roo doesn’t gain weight, she has been labelled with Failure to Thrive.  If you saw her in person, you wouldn’t think twice that this was a problem.  She’s a healthy looking baby.  But, she doesn’t gain weight.  We saw her nutritionist yesterday for her weight check.  She only gained 0.23 kilos in 9 weeks.  That’s not enough.  She is 11 months (adj. about 9 months 2 weeks) and weighs 15.59 pounds and is 26.02 inches long.

I kept it together at the hospital but as soon as I got into the car, I cried.  I feel like a failure as a mom.  I wasn’t able to keep her inside of me long enough to grow strong and healthy.  And, I’m not able to provide enough nutrition to help her gain weight outside of me.

If she doesn’t gain an “appropriate amount of weight” (whatever that means) by August 7, I will have to start pumping and fortifying my breast milk like I did when she was first born.  The thought of doing that again makes me ill.  But, I would do it if it means she will gain weight.

Roo is a healthy eater.  She loves to eat.  She loves to nurse.  I don’t know why she isn’t gaining weight.  She eats as much as the other kids in our mommy group, so I know that I give her more than enough food.  I pretty much feed her until she holds out her hand to say no and clamps her mouth shut.  She makes it clear that she is done.  I’m not going to force feed her (actually, she is so stubborn, it would be IMPOSSIBLE, LOL!).

I mix butter into her fruits and veggies when I prepare them.  I give her whole milk yogurt.  I am going to start adding coconut milk to her diet.  I don’t know what else to do.  I’m at a loss.  I’m sad.

Look at my cute, chubby-cheeked baby girl!  I don’t think she looks like she needs to be labeled with failure to thrive.


Did you have a child with this label?  What did you do?  What was your trick to getting him/her to finally gain weight?  Is there something else we should be looking at?

19 thoughts on “Failure to Thrive

  1. Oh my goodness! Don’t let anybody say your baby is not thriving. She’s clearly happy and healthy…and so adorable! She’s thriving…geesh! Have you tried whole cows milk?

  2. I’m so sorry hun, it doesn’t seem like its a fitting label at all. I’m afraid someone may throw that at us at some point but it doesn’t mean it’s true. Archie was born at a very healthy 7lb 13oz but by 4 months was in the 3%tile for weight and still is at 7.5 months. He nurses plenty and has started eating more and more foods. He’s just super active and I think burns calories more then some others. Is Roo really active? We cook Archie’s food in coconut oil to fatten it up. We offer avocados often even though he’s not totally sold on them.

    I just have such a hard time believing there is anything WRONG with babies who aren’t big and chubby as long as they’re healthy. Especially when they’re getting breast milk and good foods. I don’t get it hun, I know you must be so frustrated. Sending you love and strength.

  3. Awe im sorry to resd this. My neephew is the same, labled failure to thrive. Its heartbreaking to hear as a family let alone a mom. I wish you yhe best of luck and hope that she is able to gain sime weight in the next couple of weeks.

  4. She looks great to me! Try not to take this personally—-Maybe it means she will be petite in the long run—-sounds frustrating but it also sounds as if you’re doing everything right. I hope you don’t have to start pumping and fortifying again, but if you do, know that it’s nothing you personally did! Don’t blame your body for the premature delivery either! You did a great job sustaining the pregnancy after PPROM.

  5. Problem with Failure to Thrive label is we as a society associate it with children who are deprived and not cared for. This is CLEARLY not the case in your daughter’s situation. She is adored and loved and eats to her own content… lots of food. But she is not sleeping a whole lot so she uses her calories up more rapidly. You might ask about her metabolism in that it may be super fast which will be a bonus in middle age; wish mine were. So try to think of it like a dress size, different maker’s use different numbers for same body fit… that might take some of the edge off the words. Then, keep on feeding and loving her and track what goes in by type and weigh her after each meal so intake is clear to docs. Also track her sleep hours so that is also clear to docs. Nuisance to do but makes full story much clearer as they look at why she isn’t growing at the rate they expect. Also ask your parents on both sides for any charts of your growth (Mom&Dad) when you were children. Doctors may have been less concerned back then than today and maybe it is a genetic pattern. Last, stop blaming yourself for things you could not control by desire or will power that your body did. NO guilt. Your daughter is Beautiful and Clearly WELL LOVED and provided for. Keep breathing and try to be calm, you are being good parents.

  6. I just converted to kg and I think she is ok. Does she have red cheeks, is she happy, does she meet milestones? If so that’s not failure to thrice. I know when Molly dropped to the 3rd percentile I was gutted and I did give her a bottle per night but they are on the move they don’t gain heaps of weight. Molly is still a dot. She’s never going to be big. I feel comfort when I see her next to other babes her age and she compares. Chin up get a second opinion of you need one x

  7. I wish terms like that didn’t exist. They’re harsh words for what is obviously not a harmful situation. You’re not a failure as a mom! Look at all you’ve done for Roo since she was born and even before that.
    Molly didn’t gain between her 4 and 6 month appointment. I read that breast fed babies gain weight differently than formula fed babies, even once solids are added. The weight gain is quite slow.
    I bulked Molly up with yogurt and cheese. She loves cheese (like her mama)!

  8. I’m sorry. I was like this as a baby and labeled ftt. I was 11 pounds at 11 Always say that as long as the baby is meeting other milestones all is well. Try not to worry – as difficult as I know that is. months old, when I had been 7 pounds at birth. My mom said it freaked her right out. Then add a year old I gained 4 pounds, and they never looked back. So my parents [my dad is an M.D.]

  9. Don’t let those words get you down. This is not your fault, it is just the way her body is growing right now. It will get better, and eventually this will all be a distant memory. Also, for the Beast real weight gain only started when we stopped pureeing food. That was the trick to beefing him up. Turns out, he has some control issues (a preemie with control issues, never!), and still hates to eat off a spoon. You’ll figure out the trick to getting her to plump up, promise.

  10. What a terrible label. I can see how not gaining weight is an issue but holy hell what a terrible thing to say. Look at her! Look at those cheeks!

    I hope they figure out what is going on soon. I can’t believe it is anything you are doing. Maybe her thyroid is acting up, or whatever, I just can’t believe a baby who is nursing on demand and eating buttered-up solids is not gaining weight because of YOU and your efforts. But I’m not a doctor. I’m just saying, you are amazing, you are doing everything in your power. ❤

  11. Oh my gosh, this post brought tears to my eyes. Not because you’re doing something wrong, but because you’ve been made to think that you have. I’m so sorry. You are *not* a failure as a mom. You are a wonderful mom, and you have a wonderful, adorable, healthy daughter! At her 12 month appointment (11 months adjusted), C was only 16 pounds. The doctor was concerned “though not overly so,” and that made me concerned, too. But, like you, I know that I’m feeding this girl as much as I possibly can. She eats, she likes eating, and if she has the metabolism of a hummingbird, well…? I’m sorry Roo got labeled so harshly, though. From what I have learned about Failure to Thrive babies in the past (mostly in the context of babies living in orphanages), that isn’t her at all. Hugs.

  12. Hi! My 26 weeker just had her one year well visit today with the pediatrician. She weighed 15 pounds six ounces. The pediatrician was happy with it. The ped explained that it is not the percentile that is important. It is the shape of the growth curve. If the shape of the growth curve looks like the shape of a term baby’s growth curve than there is nothing to worry about. I would definitely seek out another opinion. On the preemie boards, I often read about mothers that are worried because of a nutritionist and then find out from the doctor’s they are ok. Good luck to you guys.

  13. Oh gosh, Roo is so incredibly beautiful! I’m so sorry you are having to deal with this. NONE OF IT IS YOUR FAULT…you are an incredible Mommy to this beautiful girl. I haven’t gotten the Failure to Thrive label, but my son is not even on the growth charts he is so short (and his weight is in a really low percentile) and I worry about that a lot…I try to remind myself that of all the problems he could have, this is an extremely minor one. And it could correct itself…we’ll just have to wait and see…
    I think calling this “failure to thrive” is cruel. Can’t the medical establishment come up with a kinder name? Words matter.
    Oh and I also wanted to tell you my next door neighbor in CO had a girl with this diagnosis, and she’s 10 now and super skinny but healthy looking healthy acting, happy and the smartest kid I know etc. etc. etc.
    Good luck and keep us posted.

  14. My 30 weeker gains weight very slowly, too. I’m sorry. It is a very hard to handle feeding and weight issues as a mom! Will be thinking of you and your precious girl!

  15. Your daughter is deginitely not failure to thrive. My daughter is 4 years old and was labeled failure to thrive at 9 months old. My daughter was 15 lbs at a year , 18 lbs at 2 years, 21 pounds at 3 years & now I do not even know her weigh. I got tired of going to the doctor ‘s office and always hearing she hasn’t gained enough. She’s the smartest kid you’d ever met, super extrovert, speaks 2 languages. She’s tiny, that’s the way God intended her to be. But for my own sake, now my husband takes the kids to the pediatrician for their check ups. Both my kids are tiny. I got tired of hearing the same story. I do not think pediatricians now how much they affect and worry moms with their labels.

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