Faltering growth

Faltering growth is not a condition, but a term used to describe a growth pattern, when a child is not growing at the expected rate.1 Remember that all toddlers develop at different rates,2 so always ensure you look at your toddler’s growth pattern over time. Try not to compare your toddler’s growth with that of their peers, as every child is different.

If you are concerned about your toddler's growth, you should ask your healthcare professional for advice on why they may not be growing as expected. Often simple advice is all that is needed to get your toddler back on track, but this is important as if faltering growth is not addressed there can be a long-term impact on your child’s development.1

What can cause faltering growth?

There could be a number of reasons for faltering growth to occur in toddlers, but the most common is down to feeding problems. Simply put, the toddler is not eating enough of the foods that he/she needs for normal growth and development, as in the following examples:1,2

  • Feeding problems: these can be due to lack of appetite or fussy eating and should be discussed with a healthcare professional
  • Lifestyle: toddlers are truly affected by their environment so if they feel unsettled, for example by family problems, they may develop feeding difficulties

For more information and practical tips on tackling fussy eating, please visit www.fussyeaters.co.uk.

If you have any concerns, please discuss these with your healthcare professional.

References

  1. Shields B et al. BMJ 2012 DOI 10.1136/bmj.e5931 Published on-line 25th September 2012.
  2. Shaw V & Lawson M (Eds). Clinical Paediatric Dietetics 3rd edition. Blackwell Publishing; Oxford 2007, p559-560.

How is my toddler's growth measured?

Growth charts are a tool used by healthcare professionals to help monitor your toddler’s growth and identify if they are at risk of faltering growth. The charts map the following:1

  • Weight – it is important to weigh your toddler at the same time of the day to obtain the most accurate reading for comparison
  • Head circumference
  • For toddlers under two years: length
  • For toddlers over two years: height – make sure your toddler is standing with straight legs

You may find it useful to record your toddler’s height and weight which you can then discuss with your healthcare professional.

Reference

  1. Shaw V & Lawson M (Eds). Clinical Paediatric Dietetics 3rd edition. Blackwell Publishing; Oxford 2007, pp5-7.

Tips for common feeding problems

For common feeding problems that may lead to faltering growth in some toddlers, why not try the following:1

  • Always try to ensure your toddler has three meals and two snacks a day
  • Increase the variety of food you give to your toddler to help engage them further with their eating habits
  • Consider increasing your toddler’s intake with foods high in energy, such as dried fruit
  • Monitor how much fruit juice/squash your toddler has, and consider reducing this to help promote their appetite for meals and snacks
  • Get them involved in messy play, so your toddler has no pressure to eat but just to explore. It’s a great first step to help alleviate feeding problems. For more information and practical tips on tackling fussy eating, please visit fussyeaters.co.uk.

If you have any concerns, please discuss these with your healthcare professional.

Reference

  1. Shields B et al. BMJ 2012 DOI 10.1136/bmj.e5931 Published online 25th September 2012.

References

  1. Shields B et al. BMJ 2012 DOI 10.1136/bmj.e5931 Published on-line 25th September 2012.
  2. Wright CM. Current Pediatrics 2002;12:279-282.

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RXANI130244e Date of preparation: February 2014