Picky Eater Help

Expert Feeding Help
for Professionals and Parents

Melanie Potock’s keynotes, courses, books & articles focus on raising kids to be healthy, happy eaters. From babies to toddlers to teens, “Coach Mel” is here to help.

Raising a Healthy Happy Eater Isn’t Always Easy

Get Expert Advice on Feeding Babies, Toddlers & School Age Kids,

Including Extreme Picky Eaters


This book is designed to answer the most common questions about feeding babies and toddlers up to age three. It also debunks myths while offering practical tips on making mealtimes joyful and less stressful. It teaches a no-nonsense, straightforward approach to responsive feeding that’s focused on nurturing trust and communication between parent and child. Read more about Responsive Feeding here.

Toddlers & Preschoolers

In her award-winning book, Raising a Healthy Happy Eater, Melanie and her co-author, pediatrician Dr. Yum, teach parents how to guide their children on the path to adventurous eating.  Parents report that toddlers are the most challenging to feed, thanks to active little bodies and fleeting attention spans.  Learn how to lay positive foundations for eating at 6 months of age, navigate the “terrific twos” and avoid picky eating in the preschool years!  Get the brand new, updated 2nd edition. Read more about feeding young children here.

School Age

Kids can cook right along with their parents from an early age, but it’s especially important from preschool and into the elementary school years.  What’s the number one food group that parents struggle with the most?  Vegetables!  The secret to helping kids love any kind of food is to follow Melanie’s Three E’s: Expose, Explore, Expand.  You’ll learn how to use the Three E’s and create veggie-love in Melanie’s book, Adventures in Veggieland: Help Your Kids Learn to Love Vegetables with 100 Easy Activities and Recipes.  Read more about feeding school-age kids here.

More fun!

As a speech language pathologist, Melanie combined her love for language, little kids and food by writing a children’s book!  You are Not an Otter: The Story of How Kids Become Adventurous Eaters is available on Kindle, in paperback, and in both English and Spanish.  Don’t miss the parent tips in the back of the book!  Learn about all of Mel’s books here.

Often, we hear snacks referred to as “mini-meals” but they aren’t always the same. 👉🏼In terms of quality,
the ideal snack is nutritious, right? But, sometimes a handful of fish crackers will just have to do, on occasion. 👉🏼In terms of quantity, for kids ages 2 & up, a typical snack is enough to hold in their hand, and there are no second servings.
🤷🏼‍♀️Why? Because kids can have more at meals until they feel satisfied. That small snack between meals is just enough fuel to ensure they don’t get hangry & arrive at the mealtime table hungry.
🤷🏼‍♀️What about the idea that kids can have mini-meals throughout the day? Yes, that’s an option. In fact, it
may be essential for some kids with medical &/or metabolic issues.

👍🏻Pros: Each snack opportunity, when seen as a meal, is more likely to be balanced & nutritious. Mealtimes come with a different mindset, but keep in mind a small snack can be nutritious too!
👎🏻Cons: When parents feel the need to feed mini-meals, it can be overwhelming. Sometimes it’s nice just to hand a kid a package of pretzels & a glass of milk & give yourself a break!
👍🏻Pros: Very active kids may do best with frequent mini-meals. I personally prefer to eat that way, but I
also eat very slowly, so my smaller portions seem to get consumed at about the same rate as my husband’s larger portions. It all seems to work out.
👎🏻Cons: As toddlers are learning mealtime routines, they don’t always have the hunger or the patience to
attend to 3 mealtimes if they are used to mini-meals. This can be hard to juggle when the rest of the
family is trying to enjoy a meal together.
♥️If you’re following a mealtime schedule (free download on my website - see FREE TOOLBOX tab!) with 2 to 3 snacks per day or you prefer 5 to 6 mini-meals, just choose a wide variety of foods throughout the day. That’s they key. And remember, the most important word in family mealtimes is FAMILY. Focus on that. 😉 #melaniepotock

Thank you to #theclinicdietitian for her input on the medical conditions that require frequent mini-meals.

So, you’ve introduced the open cup but your toddler has discovered GRAVITY.

😳Happens to the best of us – it’s going to be ok!
💦Grab some paper towels and follow my 3 C’s.
🧘‍♀️ Stay calm.
Respond in a concise manner – just state the facts. Screenshot the graphic so you remember exactly how to handle this one!
👉🏼Parent consistently and get all the adults on board too! Consistency is key when it comes to establishing positive behaviors in kids.
💜Most of all – remember to join in on the fun when it is an appropriate time and place, like bathtime! Kids just want attention and that’s the time to reinforce their delight in pouring, splashing & discovering
all the fun things that we can do with cups!
👉🏼But when we are not in the bath, cups are for drinking. 😊 #melaniepotock

🤦🏼‍♀️Got a picky eater who will only eat one brand of chicken nugget and GOD FORBID they change the packaging? 
🤦🏼‍♀️Got a kid who will only eat at one brand of fast-food restaurant and a fry is NOT a fry at any other drive-thru?

👉🏼When kids are brand-specific, they stick to FAMILIAR. They aren’t comfortable with change, especially when it comes to their food.

✨What to do about it? Start small. Include one small piece of the same food (different brand) on the child’s plate, along with the preferred food. Start with just visual acceptance – eating comes later.

❌Please don’t…
1. Put a new brand in the familiar brand’s container. It won’t solve a thing and it only breaks down trust.
2. Try to reason with your child. It just creates an adversarial environment.
1. Encouraging your child to help prepare the new brand of a favorite food. Get them involved and keep the atmosphere light and happy.
2. Away from mealtimes, encourage your child to explore the new brand…cut it up with fun food cutters or child-safe scissors and really get to know it. Make it familiar over time.

✨Be consistent. When your child is tolerating the presence of the new brand, you can begin to serve a 
few pieces of just that brand and not the other. Be sure there is still something else for them to eat on 
the plate too.

❤️Parent patiently – this one takes time! TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS - I want to know - what’s your biggest frustration about always needing one brand of a favorite food? 

❤️Learn more baby, toddler & big kid tips about food and by following @mymunchbug_melaniepotock 

#pickyeater #pickyeaters #pickypicky #parentingtoddlers #toddlertrouble #feedinglittles #feedingkids #ashaigers #slpmom #pediatricfeedingdisorders #pediatricot #slpeeps #feedingtherapy #feedingtherapist

❤️How to Explain Memorial Day to a Young Child?

Parents.com shared terrific advice on this:

Three to seven year old kids “likely need parents to explain the meaning of Memorial Day in simpler terms. (Becky) Reback says defining the word "memorial" helps give kids a foundation to grasp what "Memorial Day" means. She suggests using the Merriam-Webster Learner's Dictionary, which provides clear and concise definitions. It defines "memorial" as "something (such as a monument or ceremony) that honors a person who has died or serves as a reminder of an event in which many people have died."

After reading this definition to your child, Reback suggests giving them an example of a memorial they've seen before to help them understand. "If there is a monument in a local park, point that out," says Reback. "Maybe they have a rock in the backyard that remembers a pet who died. That's a memorial, too."

Then, Reback recommends bringing the conversation full circle. "Tell them, 'On Memorial Day, we honor, which really means to celebrate and remember, the Americans who died in wars…America chose to fight in. Some people chose to fight for our county. They died in the war, and we remember them,'" she says.

Source: https://www.parents.com/holiday/memorial-day/traditions/patriotic-ways-to-celebrate-memorial-day-with-kids/
#melaniepotock #memorialday

👉🏼The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends cutting foods like hot dogs into strips or small pieces 

🌭Like a hot dog, it’s firm to touch (especially when cold straight from the fridge), the perfect shape to 
lodge in a child’s airway & the AAP specifically says NO to “CHUNKS OF CHEESE”. 

👉🏼Plus, when kids are walking about & eating, common with convenience snack foods like string cheese, the risk is higher.

🥰But it’s nutritious & yummy & convenient! It’s ok…here’s what to do:
✨Show kids how to pull off the strings while they eat it.
✨Pull it apart into three strings yourself & serve to kids that way.
✨Always be sure kids are seated when eating.
✨If you slice it to serve, never slice it into “coins” but instead, slice thinly down the length of the cheese.

✨💕✨Bonus tip: When kids are in a stroller, it’s very tempting for them stretch their neck to look up (like looking way up at the sky) to talk to you as you push the stroller. That position opens the airway & food can just tumble right down & get lodged there. That’s not the time for kids to be eating riskier foods. Offer meltable, squishable, safe foods in the stroller. 

🤔So, string cheese or no string cheese? As long as it’s soft and not too firm very cold from the fridge, I’m fine with it whole for kids between age three and four who have good attention. But for toddlers, use the strategies noted above. Babies can have a FEW finely shredded pieces (not long strings) at a time. Be careful they don’t ball it up in their fists. 
👉🏼TAG A FRIEND TO SHARE THESE SAFETY TIPS! Yesterday was about hot dogs, the day before dried fruit. Hope you found this helpful!

🌭From Memorial Day to Labor Day, Americans typically consume 7 billion hot dogs. BUT…It’s also the #1 food-related cause of choking in kids under the age of 3.*😳

👉🏼In just ten seconds, you can save a life by cutting up the dog into small pieces. Not coins! Go smaller. Here’s why:

🪙Hot dogs cut into coin-shapes will lodge easily in your child’s airway.

🌭Hot dogs can expand with moisture and act as the perfect plug in your child’s airway. Kids who choke on hot dogs often inhale the pieces into their lungs, risking serious complications.

👉🏼Although the data focuses on kids three and under, I recommend cutting up dogs into chopped, pea-sized bites for kids ages 4 and under. Kids come in all sizes, but one thing they have in common is narrow little airways. 

👉🏼Plus, kids don’t pay the best attention to what they are eating and are still learning to manage a variety of foods in a safe manner. So, in my line of work, I prefer to be very cautious rather than risk a choking incident. I don't even offer strips - if it's the #1 food-related cause of choking, I am uber-careful.

🤞🏻But your child seems to do ok with a full-size dog? I understand that feeling – I do! We are excited when our kids gain independence and seem to be able to manage more “grown-up” foods. But it only takes one time for a child to choke, and not being able to breath is not only 
dangerous and life-threatening, it’s frightening and traumatic, even if the food becomes dislodged and the child can breathe again.

👉🏼Learn life saving techniques, keep an eye on kids when they are eating, and enjoy some hot dogs. Just be safe. I share this because as a pediatric feeding specialist, I see kids every year who have choked on hot dogs, grapes and hard candies. 

💕So, thanks for letting me have a very serious conversation about this. It’s a big weekend for hot dogs, brats and BBQ, and I want everyone to have a fun and safe holiday. 

Take a CPR/Safety course on my my course library 👉🏼 mymunchbug.com/course-library/ or via link in my profile. It’s quick, on-demand and life-saving!

*Source: National Hot Dog Sausage Council and American Academy of Pediatrics

🍒Dried apricots, cherries and other sticky dried fruits pose a serious choking hazards for babies and young toddlers. 

👉🏼I’d prefer that you not offer them till after age three, and even then cut into strips or one at a time…and YES, that includes raisins. WHY?

✨Because raisins and other sticky dried fruit clump with chewing and are the perfect plug over a child’s airway. 

❤️But, that being said, I fully recognize that adults and older kids eat these foods in the presence of littles, and sometimes they are eager to try them!

🤍So, cut into very skinny strips (think matchsticks) and offer only one at a time. Yes, it’s a pain to have to cut it, but from ages 2 to 4, it’s worth the extra effort. Still monitor closely, as some little kids tend to stuff foods at this age, and just because it appears to be “gone” doesn’t mean it isn’t hiding out in little cheeks or stuck on the roof of the mouth. 

👞If it’s really leathery, skip it. For commercial or homemade fruit “leathers”, see my reel specific to those from last week.

🪥Occasionally, with close monitoring, at about age two…and brush those teeth as soon as you can afterward. 

✨Wow✨75,000 followers and it’s just me here, trying to find my way on @instagram ❤️ Whether you’re here for picky eater tips, starting solids, feeding therapy support or just curious about who the heck I am…seriously, sometimes I don’t even no which name to go by on a particular day! Basically, my name is Melanie and I love kids, food and family. ❤️ Thank you for following me 👉🏼@mymunchbug_melaniepotock 

Also, I can't spell worth beens. (LOL! See what I did there!) Did you spot my misspelling in this reel? I did. #recoveringperfectionist 

🔥Notice that toddlers & preschoolers hesitate to try new foods if they are “hot”, yet you know the food is really just “warm”? 

🤍Use this strategy to help kids understand the spectrum of temperature, especially with a picky eater.

⚠️Yes, teach “hot” right away – it equates to DANGER! Touching a hot stove, or a hot car parked in the heat outside – that is dangerous! 

☀️But remember to teach “nice and warm” too! Then, when kids see a little touch of steam rising from the veggie casserole, they won’t stop in their tracks and say “TOO HOT!” Pair a positive and familiar experience, like holding our blankie in our arms, fresh out of the dryer – so nice and warm – to help kids conceptualize the feeling of “warm”.
#melaniepotock #originalidea

💦Although water helps prevent constipation and aids in the absorption of vitamins & minerals – babies can indeed get too much! Although it’s rare, water intoxication in babies ages 6 to 12 months occurs when “too much water dilutes a baby's normal sodium levels and can lead to seizures, coma, brain damage and death.”* The main source of hydration for young babies is formula or breastmilk.

🤍Babies 6 to 12 months just need a little bit of water, and start with just a few sips building slowly over time. 

❤️For older toddlers up to age three, the can have more than the amount below, but this easy formula will help you remember the amount they NEED:

❤️ONE 8 oz cup of water for a ONE-year old

❤️❤️TWO 8 oz cups of water for a TWO-year-old 

❤️❤️❤️THREE 8 oz cups of water for a THREE-year-old

💦Think sipping, not guzzling, throughout the day. 

⚠️Note: Rampant thirst throughout the day may indicate a serious medical condition. Always contact your child’s doctor should they crave water frequently. 

👉🏼💕👉🏼Get more tips like these in my books, Responsive Feeding and the also the new 2nd edition of Raising a Healthy Happy Eater! 

#melaniepotock #feedingbaby #waterforkids 

*James P. Keating, MD, retired medical director of the St. Louis Children's Hospital Diagnostic Center

😳Early signs of an allergic reaction may not be obvious to you, but once kids can talk they describe the feelins in very unique ways! 

👉🏼Remember, the first reaction may appear mild, but the very next reaction can result in anaphalaxis. 

👉🏼According to Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), children can 
communicate their symptoms by saying:
🌶 “This food is too spicy.”
🥵”My tongue is hot [or burning].”
🫢”It feels like something’s poking my tongue.”
🔥My tongue [or mouth] is tingling [or burning].”
😝”My tongue [or mouth] itches.”
💇It [my tongue] feels like there is hair on it.”
😜”My mouth feels funny.”
🐸”There’s a frog in my throat.”
🙊”There’s something stuck in my throat.”
🥴”My tongue feels full [or heavy].”
🫦”My lips feel tight.”
🪲”It feels like there are bugs in there” (to describe itchy ears).
☹️”It [my throat] feels thick.”
😩”It feels like a bump is on the back of my tongue [throat].”
Tell me - what did you notice or hear your child say when they started to react to an allergen? Also…tag a friend who would find this reel helpful please!💗

✨FEEDING THERAPISTS: My once-a-year virtual Masterclass on Food Allergies: Safety & Management in Feeding Therapy has a limited number of seats available 👉🏼 mymunchbug.com/food-allergies-masterclass/
📖The quote above is from my article for the American Speech Language Hearing 
Assocation - Five Things You Need to Know if Your Client Has Food Allergies by 
#melaniepotock #foodallergyawarenessweek

💦Need your toddler to drink more water? Try my cup fairy strategy! 

🧚‍♀️Any fun and unique cups will do, just be sure the cup fairy brings a new one each morning…buy 2 or 3 new cups and rotate through them for about a week till water becomes a habit with ANY kind of cup. 

🧚‍♀️Get creative, use stickers or fun straws! But the containers in the video are my favorite tool for this strategy! I got mine at @walmart 💗
#melaniepotock #originalidea

Melanie Potock

Pediatric Feeding Expert and Author

Melanie Potock, MA, CCC-SLP is a mom who once had a picky eater.  She’s experienced first-hand the stress that parents feel when they are worried about their child’s nutritional health.  Fast forward to today, and you’ll find Melanie blending her knowledge of feeding therapy with practical parenting strategies that help the entire family eat healthier.  She’s an international speaker and author of six books, including co-authoring the award-winning Raising a Healthy Happy Eater.  Whether you’re raising a child who seems to be on the path to loving all kinds of healthy foods (and you want to keep it that way) or if your child is stuck in the chicken nugget rut, “Coach Mel” is here to guide you.

Melanie's Advice Shared In...

  • Washington Post
  • PBS Kids
  • Wall Street Journal
  • Autism Parenting Magazine
  • CNN
  • ASHA Blog
  • ASHA Leader
  • Parents.com
  • The Bump
  • New York Times
  • WebMD
  • Parents
  • Romper
  • Fit Pregnancy
  • Georgia Chapter AAP
  • Fatherly
  • Care.com
  • Dr. Greene
  • Yahoo Parenting

Courses for Parents & Professionals

Melanie offers both on-demand courses and live-streaming Masterclasses.  CEUs are optional for both OTs and SLPs, yet audience members include parents, RDs, pediatricians & other health care professionals.

Need help with a picky eater, or just want to prevent kids from falling into the chicken-nugget rut?  As a parent, SLP or OT, what do you need to know about child nutrition?  What about the anxious eater – Could this be more than just picky eating?  Melanie’s on-demand course subscriptions provide the answers!

Want more in-depth instruction in a small group, virtual setting?  Register for one of Melanie’s Masterclass!

Explore course options here.

Booking Signing

Parenting Advice

Melanie’s advice has been shared in The New York Times, Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Parents Magazine and more. Over 150 articles for both parents and professionals are found here or contact Melanie for a personal one-hour coaching session via video chat.

Masterclass participants get a 25% discount on coaching.

Learn more about professional and parent coaching here.

Keynote Speaking

An international speaker, award-winning author and pediatric feeding specialist, audiences find Melanie’s advice to be practical and possible, even in the most challenging cases.  That’s because Melanie is in the trenches, working closely with the most extreme picky eaters and supporting families and health professionals around the world. Melanie has been invited to speak at over 100 different events, including the American Speech Language Hearing Association’s National Conference and the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo.

Audiences say it best: If you are looking for a professional speaker who can “provide practical solutions” for parents, caregivers and therapists and your company needs a “highly knowledgeable, organized presenter” with “energy and enthusiasm” who can deliver a “dynamic course”, then your best choice is Melanie Potock. Contact Melanie here.

Product Consulting

Need expert input on your new parenting product?  Melanie has provided expert advice for Orgain, Inc., Holland Health Care, Inc., Healthy Height, Inc., NumNum, LLC and numerous health care and parent product companies.

Looking for an expert to educate your team on how children learn to become adventurous eaters, baby-self feeding or the importance of purees?  Feeding is developmental, just like learning to crawl, walk, run. At least 1 in 4 typically developing children have trouble learning to eat!  Raising a healthy, happy eater requires the right tools and the right advice.  Melanie provides company education and collaboration via webinars, social media and creating educational videos for your audience.

Contact Melanie here.


feeding advice for parents and professionals

Parenting a Picky Eater,

50 Easy Ways to Get Your Kid to Eat New Foods

By Salma Abdelnour Gilman It may seem like an impossible dream right now, but your kid has the potential to love all kinds...Read More
February 7, 2021
Sensory Concerns,

A Special Needs Guide for Learning to Eat with Your SEVEN Senses – Part One

  Most of us think of five senses and the human body: Sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. But, when it comes...Read More
January 14, 2021
Parenting a Picky Eater,

3 Ways to Explain Baby-Led Feeding to Your Extended Family

By Melanie Potock, MA, CCC-SLP Whether it’s a holiday dinner, a virtual family brunch or an outdoor family picnic, well-meaning relatives may...Read More
December 30, 2020
Parenting a Picky Eater,

Planting for Kids

By The Lettuce Grow Team Melanie Potock has a knack for taking eaters of all ages from picky to passionate. Here are a...Read More
October 19, 2020