Fear Not: There are Options for Babies with Failure to Thrive

May 26, 2021

New diagnoses can be a stressful time. This is probably the first time you have ever heard of Failure to Thrive (FTT) and now you’re trying to figure out how to best help your baby in order to get them back on track with their growth.

Picking a management approach is the first part of this journey. In this article we’ll discuss the various management approaches for FTT so that you feel better equipped to ask your healthcare team the right questions for the best results because, the fact is, you know yourself and your baby best!

Management Approaches

Before we dive into management approaches, let’s define Failure to Thrive (FTT). Failure to Thrive is a diagnosis a doctor might give your little one after comparing their growth to infant growth standards. With FTT, your little one is behind in their growth and they need to catch-up. For most, this is just a temporary setback. Your little one’s healthcare team along with your assistance can help ensure your baby receives the nutrition needed for catch-up growth.

Remember, it’s important to note that none of the methods discussed below should be used without the guidance and approval of your baby’s healthcare provider.

Concentrating formula
One of the most common management approaches for FTT for formula-fed infants is the addition of extra formula powder to a set amount of water in order to achieve a higher concentration. With this approach, your healthcare care team gives you a specific recipe and monitors your use of their recipe. This means you’d add extra powdered formula when mixing your baby’s bottle. The extra formula increases the standard baby formula from 20 calories per ounce to a higher concentration in order to promote catch-up growth.

While concentrating infant formula has been a common approach for care, there can be significant risk factors involved in this approach. Mixing errors can occur when making special formula recipes for your little one. As a parent, questioning if you’re scooping correctly or losing track of the number of scoops you’ve added while dealing with a screaming baby can be stressful, especially when every calorie counts while dealing with FTT. We’re all humans who make mistakes. However, the fear of mistakes when feeding your baby can be overwhelming.

A modular is a product that provides a specific nutrient. This can be a liquid or powdered product that provides protein, carbohydrates, fat, or a combination of any of the two. Modulars cannot be used as a sole source of nutrition. This means that modulars must be used in combination with an infant formula when managing FTT. Like concentrating your baby’s bottle, modulars can add additional calories that increase the calories in a bottle of standard infant formula.

Sometimes clinicians use modulars when they don’t have an ideal formula available. The approach of using modulars in combination with an infant formula is mainly utilized in the hospital setting where your little one’s healthcare team can closely look at their intake and adjust accordingly. Modulars carry some of the same risks as concentrating your baby’s bottle.

Ready-To-Feed Calorie- and Nutrient-Dense Formula Option
Ready-to-feed means that the product comes in liquid form and it does not require additional mixing or added water in order to be fed to your little one. Ready-to-feed options specifically designed for FTT babies contain a calorie- and nutrient-dense profile, protein tailored to requirements, and specific vitamins and minerals in order to meet their needs.

With this option, additional scoops of formula and modulars are not needed to meet your little one’s needs. The science and mixing have been done on the back end to take stress and risk out of the equation. The ready-to-feed product comes pre-mixed, is sterile, and convenient. Also, the ready-to-feed calorie- and nutrient-dense formula provides the appropriate ratio of adequate calories and protein to help your infant catch up on growth.

Ready-to-feed high-calorie formulas are available and are an easy option. Feeding a ready-to-feed calorie- and nutrient-dense formula is as simple as shaking the carton, opening, and pouring the formula into a bottle. For a parent who wants to ensure that their little one gets the nutrition the healthcare team recommends for catch-up growth, a ready-to-feed calorie- and nutrient dense formula gives that assurance—with less room for error.

Here at Nutricia North America, we offer Fortini Infant, which is a calorie- and nutrient-dense, ready-to-feed formula designed for infants with or at risk of growth failure, increased energy requirements, and/or fluid restrictions.

Lu Akinribade, MA, RDN

Lu works on our Medical team as a Nutrition Specialist. In her role, she works closely with Nutricia North America’s catalog of products and answers questions and provides guidance for healthcare professionals, consumers, and parents.


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