Babies Who Fail to Thrive



There is a huge difference between failure to thrive and slow weight gain. With slow weight gain, weight gain is slow but consistent. Failure to thrive describes an infant who continues to lose weight after ten days of life, does not regain his or her birth weight by three weeks of age. It’s estimated that in the United States, more than two hundred thousand babies a year experience failure to thrive. The cause can be attributed to either mother or child.

Mother-Related Causes:

Here are some matters specific to mother that can contribute to slow or no weight gain.

  1. Improper nursing technique. Many women fail at breast-feeding because the baby is not positioned properly on the breast. As a result, he or she latches on only to the nipple and not to all or much of the areola. The end result is a hungry baby.
  1. Nature or lifestyle. Insufficient milk production can be a result of nature (insufficient glandular tissue or hormones) or a mother’s lifestyle (not getting enough rest or liquids). The mother simply doesn’t produce enough milk, or in some cases, milk of high enough quality. If you suspect this is the case, try a) using a breast pump to see what quantity of milk is being produced and b) discovering if your baby will take any formula after he or she has been at your breast for the proper amount of time. Report your findings to your pediatrician.
  2. Poor release of milk. This indicates a problem with the mother’s let-down reflex.
  3. Feeding too frequently. There is an irony here because one would think that many feedings ensure adequate weight gain. Not necessarily! In some cases a mother can be worn out by too many ineffective feedings.
  4. Feeding too infrequently. This problem can be attributed to either hyper-scheduling or demand-feeding. The mother who insists on watching the clock to the minute lacks confidence in decision-making. The clock is in control, not the parent. The hyperschedulist insists on a strict schedule, often nursing her baby no more than every four hours. Enslavement to the clock is almost as great an evil as a mother who is in bondage to thoughtless emotions.
    Another side to the problem of infrequency is that some demand-fed babies demand too little food. As a result, the mother’s breast is not sufficiently stimulated for adequate milk production.

6 . Not monitoring growth signs. Many moms simply fail to notice their baby’s healthy and unhealthy growth indicators. The healthy baby growth chart will assist you with this vital task. A common mistake made during the third and fourth months is to assume that just because your baby has done well up to this point he probably won’t have any problems in the future. That is not always the case. You must continue to monitor your baby’s growth throughout his first year of life.

7 . Physical nurturing, holding, and cuddling. The lack of these gestures can impact a child’s ability to thrive. It is important that moms cuddle, hold, and talk to their babies frequently throughout the day. Your routine will help provide these periods, but mom should not be the only one cuddling the child. Dad, older siblings, grandma, and grandpa are some of your baby’s favorite people. More people, more love.

  1. Pushing too hard or too fast into the next milestone.To establish healthy sleep patterns, be careful not to compromise your baby’s nutrition while attempting. Some mothers fail to notice the warning indicators of inadequate nutrition because they are overly focused on getting the naps down, or extending nighttime sleep. If your baby is routinely waking thirty to forty-five minutes into his nap, it may have more to do with inadequate nutrition or lactation than the start of poor sleep habits. One tell tail sign is if this pattern coincides with growth spurts.

Infant-Related Causes:

Slow weight gain or an absence of weight gain also may be directly related to your infant. Here are several possibilities.

  1. Weak sucking. In this case, the child doesn’t have the coordination or the strength to suck properly, remain latched on, or activate the letdown reflex. As a result, the baby receives the low-calorie fore-milk but not the high-calorie hind-milk.

2 . Improper sucking. This can result from a number of different conditions:

  • Tongue thrusting. When going to breast, sometimes a baby thrusts his or her tongue forward and pushes the nipple out of his or her mouth.
  • Protruding tongue. This condition is described as the tongue forming a hump in the mouth, interfering with successful latching on.
  • Tongue sucking. The infant suckles on his own tongue.

3 . An underlying medical problem. A weak or laborious suck (for example, one in which the child tires to the point of giving up after a few minutes of nursing) can be a symptom of cardiac or neurological failing. If you suspect this may be the case, don’t wait for your baby’s next scheduled checkup. Call your pediatrician immediately. There are many variables involved in successful breast-milk production and fortunately, your baby’s routine is a healthy one.


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