Are There Supplements for Weight Gain in Failure to Thrive?

When a child stops growing or loses weight, it is a sign she is not eating enough or is sick. The medical term for this is failure to thrive. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), most often when a child stops growing, it is due to poor caloric intake.

KidsHealth states that failure to thrive is most commonly diagnosed in infants and toddlers, and that poor growth at this age leads to poor brain growth and poor mental development. Nutritional supplements are used to help the child with poor intake meet calorie needs to promote proper growth 1. The Nemours Foundation states that supplements should only be consumed when prescribed by a pediatrician.

Infant Formula

According to the Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle, Washington, physicians recommend increasing the concentration of infant formula to meet high calorie needs for the infant with failure to thrive. Formulas are concentrated to 24 calories per ounce by adjusting the amount of added water to either the powdered or liquid concentrated infant formula . The appropriate formula depends on the infant’s needs and medical condition. Normal infant formula is 20 calories per ounce. A pediatrician prescribes the calorie concentration and refers the infant to a dietitian to determine the recipe to concentrate the formula.

Pediatric Supplements

Pediatric supplements are used to meet increased calorie needs for toddlers with failure to thrive. The Childrens' Hospital of Pittsburgh recommends milk-based supplements including Carnation Instant Breakfast and Pediasure NutriPals and nonmilk-based supplements including Pediasure, Kid Essential, and Nutren Jr. In addition, juice supplements including Enlive and Clinutren Fruit are also recommended. Supplement choice is usually determined by the toddler's taste preference.

High Calorie Foods

The Nemours Foundation states that physicians recommend high calorie foods in addition to supplements to help children with failure to thrive. High calorie infant foods include bananas, sweet potatoes, peas, and meats. The toddler diet allows for more variety.