“Failure to Thrive” Label Fails Parents and Children

Guest Blog Appearance by: Katja Rowell MD

She called near tears, anxious about her infant daughter, haunted by three words used years ago to describe her first son. “Failure to thrive” – few words do more harm to the feeding relationship.  (OK, perhaps, “Do whatever you have to, to get food into that kid,” and the two often go hand in hand…)

“It really got into our heads,” explained Sally as she recounted the struggles she had feeding her son, who’s allergies to eggs, nuts and dairy were discovered while she was breast-feeding. Zack was small, at around the 5th percentile, but thriving socially, physically and emotionally. Doctors however, warned he was officially “underweight,” and threatened a “failure to thrive diagnosis.”

Subsequently, Sally worried and pressured, and his eating got worse, not better. Sally’s experience is supported by the research. Children pressured to eat, generally eat and grow less well. Continue reading