Failure to Thrive?

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As I write this, I’m sitting at Panera immediately after Asher’s 9 Month well check. I’m trying to catch a few moments to myself and process after a few hard days emotionally. The latest wave to crash against me? Hearing the pediatrician mention the words “failure to thrive” in reference to Asher. I mean…have you seen this kid?

Is this the face of a child that is failing to thrive?


Sure, he may be on the small end, but what those growth charts don’t tell you is that he’s been crawling and climbing for 3 months. He’s chasing an active big brother and would much rather play than snuggle up for an extended nursing session…unless it is nighttime and there’s nothing better to do. Those growth charts don’t tell you that he’s clapping, waving, and giving kisses. They don’t tell you that he’s been saying “Mama” and “Bubba” for 3 months. They don’t tell you that he’s recently picked up the words “Bye-Bye” and “Go-Go”. They aren’t able to tell you about the depths of his belly laughs and the shrieks of joy when he’s in the bathtub splashing.

Failure to thrive? Not the face I’m looking into.

Now, don’t misunderstand me…

I am concerned that he doesn’t have the rolls where he should. I am concerned that he’d rather play with his food than stick it in his mouth. I am concerned that he doesn’t have cheeks to pinch. I do recognize that his low weight could be an indicator to something medically wrong, but failure to thrive? Really?

I’m just not sure.

You see, I’ve seen the children that truly aren’t thriving. I’ve seen the empty eyes, the frailness, and the missed milestones. I’ve seen the orphan child that bangs her head against the crib rails or rocks back and forth to self-soothe when there isn’t someone to snuggle when she wakes up in the middle of the night.

Matter of fact,Β  I have a child that might be rocking in a crib halfway around the world this very second.

No. I just can’t accept the term “Failure to Thrive” in reference to Asher.

Low on growth charts? Yes.

Failure to thrive? No.

Not when there are 163 million orphans needing a forever family.

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  1. If he is developing normally I wouldn’t be too concerned. ACTIVE babies tend to gain weight more slowly. If he’s eating, drinking and pooping a peeing he’s probably just brning a lot of calories!

  2. My little girl is also on the low side of the charts when it comes to weight. I find the term “failure to thrive” to be a bit harsh. She’s two now and just hit 20 lbs. However, she is “thriving” in so many other ways. After worrying myself sick over it for a few months, I just decided to keep doing things the way I have with all of my kids. She’s healthy and happy and a perfectly normal 2 year old, just a little smaller than the rest.


  3. Don’t worry! I have five children ranging in age from 13 to 29 and I have heard things from my pediatricians such as: too chubby, bow legged, undernourished, early puberty, too shy, etc. None of these were true or even turned out to be true. A good mom trusts her instincts with her children, especially young ones. I have had skinny babies, chubby babies, slow to crawl babies, slow to walk babies, slow to talk babies and yet they turned out to all be bright, healthy young adults. Your little doll has sparkling, healthy, intelligent eyes. He just must have a fast metabolism. I have a 27yo son who is still super skinny no matter what he eats! He is 6’3 and weighs 165 pounds and he was always that way and is healthy. May God bless you and your family!

  4. Praying friend…
    I know the battle…to want wisdom, to need the follow-ups, but to balance that with all the good signs that point to THRIVING πŸ™‚
    Your heart and approach seems very very reasonable and responsible.
    We know you love both of them (no wait–all THREE of them!!!) and that you are praying for each and trying to figure out the best way to nurture their growth in all areas.
    I’m a total worrier (especially after Selah).
    It’s my ongoing battle to place “it all” back in His hands.
    Like I told you earlier…praying it’ll just be his-growth-curve…his “normal” (as it was with Lydi).

    This will make you smile though…
    When our dr. was concerned about Lydi’s low percentile. I came home from the appointment and pulled out my husband Jason’s baby book, where his mom had marked his weight and percentile at 1 year. It was almost the exact same as Lydia’s.
    I actually thought to myself– “SEE !!! THAT’S WHY !!! She’s just going to be on the shorter end of the percentiles like her mom and dad” πŸ™‚
    Thankfully I remembered she is adopted before sharing that “helpful” information with her dr. πŸ™‚

    Don’t you LOVE the complete-full-relationship-bond of adoption!!! I often forget we don’t share biological genes because we do share SO much! Praying that for you too…with Little Miss #3.

    • I love that about you comparing the growth charts and them being almost the same! I have those “oh yeah, he’s not our biological son” moments with D all the time. When it hits me I just laugh at myself. πŸ™‚

    • That story is hilarious! I have a friend from church that did something similar and then remembered the link wasn’t biological. Too funny! Thank you for praying and encouraging. After looking at his food intake for 2 days, there might be a little reason for concern, but who knows. I just have such a hard time with that term. Apparently, Asher’s weight took a nosedive, not a curve.

  5. Right On!!!!!!! I hate that diagnosis. It took us 3 years to get our girls to hit the growth curve…the bottom of it.

  6. I watched you post this on FB the other day and I want you to know that I am praying. My one son was so big he was off the charts… he was one chubby kid. They expressed concern that he would be obese if we didn’t watch what he ate. Um he was only nursing at that point. I figure he is just going to be a big guy. I think they saw chubby me and assumed I feed my baby junk food. At four years old he has thinned out… a lot.
    You know your baby… and sometimes those in the medical profession have a tendency to be a bit paranoid and hyperreactive. They do not see your little guy but for what 15-30 minutes every couple of months. That is a tiny snap shot into who he is. Maybe there is something more going on, but maybe he is just NOT going to be perfectly in the middle of that glorious bell curve. Praying.

  7. When I saw you say that he had been dx ‘failure to thrive’ I immediately thought of that adorable boy from 2:1. He is absolutely NOT failing to thrive! Yeah, he’s little, but so what? As a pediatrician put it to me when Spike was a baby and very tiny, it’s not like you are 8 feet tall. Now, Samoo was dx failure to thrive. He had lots of developmental delays and was not on the charts at his 1 year check. He had swallowing issues that made it so he could still only nurse or he would gag and throw up. We started giving him pediasure (chocolate) with a dropper that day, less than 1/2 a bottle a day. Since he hated it, it only lasted about a week. By the time he was 13 months he had somehow miraculously caught up; just like he has done with his developmental delays. He has been very behind with most things, but then suddenly he has a burst and not only catches up, but exceeds his age range. So – for Asher – failure to thrive? Nope, I don’t believe it! That little guy is gorgeous, amazing, and has a LOT of things to do in a day, no wonder he’s on the little side. Man, if I put the same amount of time on my feet as he does his hands and knees, I’d be skinny! πŸ™‚

    • Thank you Lena! I know that FTT is a very real thing. I’m not trying to make light of it because I know it could be an indicator of something going on with him. It is just really hard to choke down those words when he’s so active. Operation Fat Baby is in full swing!

  8. Ok…I’m crying. Just sayin’….

    So very, very true.

  9. Just came across your blog. Love it!
    I know it is hard not to worry I have fifteen grandkids and the worry never stops. Just keep doing what you are doing and that is being an attentive loving mommy.
    He is beautiful!
    Blessings to You and Yours!

    I grabbed your blog button and joined by email

  10. My little Isaiah came to me at 3 months – 16 lbs- he was not thriving, even though he was a chucky little guy. weight had nothing to do with it. we wasn’t held just fed. It was a different baby of failure to thrive. He is for sure is thriving today!
    Hoping all is well with your little guy!:)

  11. Oh, Sara.
    My heart goes out to you. We also had a little guy that was just that…..little. He was thriving and growing; just not fast enough for the doctors.
    Unfortunately because we were worried, we listened to the docs and started giving him pediasure; a high calorie drink with the hopes to fatten him up. The high sugar content totally changed his behavior and it was hard to get him to eat “nutritious/healthy” food because he started craving sugars.
    Long story short…I wish we would have used goat’s milk or something healthy with lots of calories. He became the sweet little baby after taking him off of the pediasure. He’s 8 years old now; tall, happy, bright, and hungry all the time! He just has a fast metabolism.
    Praying that God will give you peace and reassurance. You and your hubby know what your little one needs.

  12. hi, haven’t stopped by for awhile. interesting to read this. i agree with you and your little talk to us/yourself? he definitely isn’t a failure to thrive child…for sure.

    i feel for all of you who must raise your kids in this world of growth charts. everyone knows what percentile their child is in both in weight and height.

    although i think the drs. knew, it wasn’t nearly as big a deal then (my girls are 41,39 and 35 now) as it seems to be now. talk about pressure! ugh!

    aren’t you glad he is your second? think how panicked you would be if he were your first? πŸ™‚ just reread your talk to yourself if you get nervous again…and keep being creative with the healthy food:)

  13. I just found your blog today via a comment on Joy Prouty’s instagram feed. My son Rhys was born Sept. 2 also! And at his 9 month check up the dr. told me he was failure to thrive as well! You had the same exact reaction as me. Rhys is the younger brother to 2 very active sisters. He started eating around 8 1/2 months, mostly table foods. So he was playing with his food a lot at that point. Comparing MY son to other children who are bottle fed and start eating at 4 months is just not fair. He is gaining at a quicker pace now that he has found a love for food! We really need to be supportive of each other as mothers and trust our instincts. I knew my little buddy would be fine and your little guys seems perfect too!

  14. I totally and completely agree with you. My babies did not have rolls either… I did have a friend who was nursing the same time I was, and her milk was about half fat (when she pumped, to be able to see it), and mine was only 1/4 fat or less. So my babies were not chubby like hers were. (Hers have all now slimmed down just fine, and mine are not at all super skinny…just regular.) We didn’t have any issues at checkups, fortunately…the public health nurses we visited seemed to be aware that nursing babies do not fit the regular charts. I hope your doctor can learn that soon too!

    And I agree with another poster who mentioned about not trying to fatten a baby up by giving him sweet drinks…ugh. I say this out of lots of experience with sugar causing hyperactivity, distractibility, impulsivity, and difficulty task-switching. We have seen much-improved behaviour without sugar excesses. (We keep it to one 10-gram-of-sugar treat/dessert per day now.)

    So glad you have a great dose of common sense, and perspective of what failure to thrive really looks like, as well as a great group of friends around you praying. My sister adopted 2 years ago internationally….an emotional but intensely rewarding journey. Bless you!


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