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Failure to Thrive


Failure to thrive (FTT) is when your child does not gain weight or grow as fast as he should. FTT is a long-term condition and your child may continue to need treatment and monitoring as he grows up.


Prevent or manage FTT:

  • Go to follow-up appointments: Take your child to see healthcare providers as recommended.
  • Keep records: Measure and record your child's weight as directed. You may also be asked to keep a written record of what and how much your child eats. Bring these records to your child's follow-up visits. This will help you and your child's healthcare providers find if certain foods are causing his problems.
  • Help your child eat well: Do not force your child to eat or feed him too quickly. Praise him when he eats well. Start with small amounts of food and increase the amount over time. Limit snacks so his appetite for a regular meal is not reduced. Limit your child's daily intake of fruit juice to less than 8 ounces. Have meals at regular times with other family members. Do not allow your child to eat while doing other things such as watching TV or playing on the computer. If your child is eating table food, feed him healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meat, and dairy products.
  • Track your child's development: If your child is an infant or toddler, keep track of when he develops new skills or meets certain milestones. These include things like rolling over, standing, walking, talking, and putting words together. A record of these things will make it easier to see if your child is developing normally for his age.
  • Reduce your child's exposure to stress: Find ways to manage stress at home. Ask family members or your child's caregivers if you feel that you need help.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider or specialist as directed:

Your child may need to return to make sure that he is growing as he should. You and your child may need to see a lactation counselor, dietitian, social worker, gastroenterologist, or counselor to help him. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child is vomiting or has diarrhea.
  • Your child has a fever, or his skin is red or swollen.
  • Your child is not growing or gaining more weight as fast as he should, even with treatment.
  • Your child is not speaking, walking, or doing other things other children his age can do.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • Your child is very irritable and cannot be consoled.
  • Your child has had fewer than 4 wet diapers in the last 24 hours.
  • Your child's soft spot on the top of his head is sunken.
  • Your child cries without tears, has sunken eyes, and his mouth is dry.
  • Your child is weak and sleeping more than usual.
  • Your child is listless and not responsive to you.
  • Your child's body is swollen, and his skin has an abnormal color. His skin may be peeling.
  • You suspect that someone may be harming or abusing your child.

Ā© Copyright IBM Corporation 2021 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotesĀ® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Failure to Thrive (Discharge Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Further information

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