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Just wanted to share some of my thoughts as we go through the Failure to Thrive journey with Violet.

Failure to thrive (FTT) is the term used to describe when a baby or child does not gain weight as expected. There are many underlying causes for FTT such as inadequate calorie consumption, infections, malabsorption issues, genetic conditions, food allergies and digestive system problems to just name a few. Sometimes no reason is found despite numerous tests.

Failure to thrive is NOT when a child or baby is just petite or just small. Parents' concern for their child's inadequate growth is for a genuine reason. Failure to thrive is often diagnosed in infants and toddlers which is an incredibly important time of physical and mental development. "After birth, a child's brain grows as much in the first year as it will grow for the rest of a child's life. Poor nutrition during this period may have lasting harmful effects on brain development." Failure to Thrive may be cause for developmental delays and learning difficulties.

Having a baby labelled as Failure to Thrive is scary and worrisome, especially when the reason why is not clear from the beginning. Many tests are performed to find the underlying cause including blood tests, X-rays, ultrasounds, ctg on the heart, urine and stool tests, genetic tests, swallow studies and many more. Some tests more invasive than others. It's hard to agree to having these tests done and watch as a parent.

Many Failure to Thrive babies and children need extra help to gain weight and are often hospitalised and have feeding tubes to help them meet their required calories.

Many medical professionals are involved including paediatricians, specialists: neurologist, gastroenterologist, geneticist, dietitians, speech pathologists, maternal child health nurses, social workers, lactation consultants, even infant mental health workers.

Whilst the medical professionals are trying to diagnose the cause for the Failure to Thrive the breastfeeding mother may have her ability to breastfeed questioned many times. Is she feeding her baby enough? Is she producing enough milk? Does her milk have enough calories in it? Is the baby feeding adequately? Some babies are even subjected to being weighed before and after every feed to see just how much they are drinking. Mums are told to express and bottle feed so baby's intake can be monitored more closely. Unfortunately formula is often suggested as the magic cure and many mums feel that this is the only option to help their baby. ultra size wedding wear for full-figured brides

For formula fed babies many mums are told to calculate exactly how much the baby has to drink. Writing down the volumes for the day and calculating whether the child has met the required amount or not. What should be a time of bonding becomes stressful with the focus shifted to numbers.

You can imagine what all this pressure does to a mother who is already feeling fragile from being incredibly stressed and worried about her child. Often mothers start to blame themselves for the failure to thrive. What if I didn't try to breastfeed for as long as I did? What if I changed formulas? I should have been taking more notice of how much he/she drank. As a parent it starts to consume you. The constant worry, the constant internet searches, the constant calculating of intake, the constant weight checks, the constant appointments. Some days it feels never ending and it begins to weigh you down physically and emotionally.

So please if a concerned parent tells you their baby or child has been diagnosed as Failure to Thrive, please don't dismiss them and say not to worry as their child is 'just' small or petite and every child is different. Instead listen to their concerns and validate their feelings. Having a baby labelled as Failure to Thrive can be a long journey and it's reassuring to know there's someone by your side.