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

Upcoming Events & Courses

On-Demand Courses

Visit the Course Library

Live In-Person Events

Napa Valley on February 24-25, 2024
Fort Lauderdale, FL on March 9-10,2024
Raleigh, NC on April 6, 2024
Canada on April 12-13, 2024
Anderson, SC on April 29, 2024

Live On-Line Courses

ARFID March 2, 2024

Babies

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.


Hey @cuisinart , can we get some more boxes please? 
Melanie 📦🥰 

#mygrandbaby #itsthesimplethings #cuisanart 
#notgifted #cutebabiesofinstagram #todayshow 

@hodakotb @mariashriver @drewbarrymore @todayshow @todaysparent @gmabrightly 

#mygrandbaby


🥤When kids chew on straws, they often need to chew to regulate their sensory system. But let’s face it – cups are expensive and replacing straws is too! Plus, if your child needs that oral sensory input, let’s find something that’s designed for that purpose. #amazonaffliate

👋🏼Hi, I’m Melanie, an SLP and feeding specialist, here to help you learn about feeding development in children.

❤️My Amazon Shop has “chewies” for all ages, and cups according to age too. Just DM the word BEST for the direct link or see the link in my profile. But let’s talk about WHY I don’t recommend this cup for kids under the age of 4, in general…

🤍👉🏼Toddlers need a short cup and as much as I love the @Owala Free Sip, it’s too tall for Littles. When a tall cup sits on the table and they have to tilt it, they are more likely to spill from their mouth after each sip when the pull the cup away. 

🤍👉🏼Toddlers need a soft, rounded straw for safety. Although ideally we want kids seated when they have anything in their mouth, toddling about with a cup is unfortunately something that still happens and it’s the #1 reason kids end up in the ER with mouth lacerations (this is true for bottles, hard-shelled pacifiers and sippy cups). So, the Owala Free Sip is best for older kids who are stable on their feet and can hold the taller heavier bottle.
Owala does have a few options for children’s cups, and I’ll share more about them next week. 

👉🏼🥕TIP: When you go to my Amazon Shop, don’t miss the little CARROT bottle brush. I put these in all the Christmas stockings last year because they are just the coolest little gadget for cleaning water bottles! Owala bottles are exceptionally easy to clean by the way, especially with the carrot brush.

❓Questions? Drop them in the comments – happy to help!
🥰Melanie
#melaniepotock #owalafreesip #cupsforkids #ashaigers #slpfeeding


💖It’s no secret that I’m a #Lovevery fan, but this latest Play Kit has me swooning! #affiliatelink #gifted Here’s why:

🤍Designed for babies ages 11 to 12 months, The Thinker Play Kit comes with toys specifically designed to encourage your baby to define and organize information while engaging their budding imagination! While playing with your little one, you’ll be…

👉🏼Exploring pretend play with a CUSTOMIZABLE doll (I chose this one because it looks just like my new grandson! – adorable!)

👉🏼Developing pincer grasp and hand strength (love the squishy, weighted ball in this kit!)

👉🏼Building hand-eye coordination – with lots of fun surprises built in to keep it interesting!

👉🏼Practice problem solving – so important for building independent play skills.

👏🏼And so much more. The items in this video are just some of what you receive in your Thinker Play Kit.

❓Do you subscribe to @Lovevery? I have an affiliate link for you – just DM me for the link or check out all my links in my bio. Thanks for taking the time to use affiliate links for small businesses like mine. Your purchase supports my time while I provide free educational content on my IG for parents and professionals – I appreciate you so much!
🥰Melanie
#melaniepotock #LoveveryGift #myfirstbaby #slp


🤍♥️🤍How you handle the amount of candy in your house (especially after Valentine’s Day!) is totally up to you…but here are a few ideas:

❤️You’re the parent and you’re a wonderful parent! It’s up to you what’s on the menu. Do the kids get an opinion? Absolutely. But ultimately, it’s your restaurant.

🤍Can you serve a few pieces with a meal or a snack? Sure, and how often that happens each day (if at all) is up to you. 

❤️Can the kids keep it in their room and just help themselves? Only if the candy isn’t chokable and the kids are old enough to manage it. Personally, I can’t have a bag of candy at my desk…I’d munch on it mindlessly, much like chewing on gum helps me think. But you know your kids best and you got this! Do what’s best for you and your family.

🤍♥️🤍No matter what you decide, you’re the parent. It’s your call how you want to handle it. 

❓Tell me, how do you like to handle all the extra candy in your house? 
🥰XOXO Melanie

💋Um, also, those Trader Joe’s X’s and O’s are my favorite! #nopaidtosaythat


♥️Today is all about LOVE, so I’m sharing 4 of my favorite books about learning to LOVE all kinds of FOOD! Tell me, do you have any of these? #amazonaffiliate 

🦦You are not an Otter: The Story of How Kids Become Adventurous Eaters…Explore how otters, elephants, zebras and other creatures eat while discovering the ONE thing kids can do that those animals can’t…COOK! (also available in Spanish – see my Amazon Shop or DM for the link)

🤍101 Descriptive Words for Food Explorers gives parents & kids the language to describe what they see, touch and experience with new foods. Written by my friend Dani at @kid.food.explorers – this is one of my favorites for every family! 

🥦Adventures in Veggieland: Help Your Kids Learn to Love Vegetables with 100 Easy Activities & Receipts – available via Kindle and other digital platforms

🔎Becoming a Food Explorer, a rhyming adventure crafted by a kids’ dietitian, once again, Dani @kid.food.explorers created this adorable book! 

👋🏼❤️👋🏼Hi, I’m Melanie, and I’m a pediatric speech pathologist & feeding specialist. I’m the author of 6 books to help your kids find the joy in food, and 2 of them are mentioned above!
You’ll find all these books, and so many more on my Amazon Shop – just Google POTOCK Amazon Shop or DM me for the direct link!

💖Hope your day is filled with LOVE, and that you get a chance to read with your little food explorers today too!
🥰Melanie
#melaniepotock #responsivefeeding #foodexplorer #slpfeeding


💜Starting solids means different things to different people because baby’s solid food can be a puree or a safe hand-held food or soft pieces to rake up with little fists. No matter how you choose to start, don’t wait too long after baby’s 6-month birthday. 

✨Research* shows that baby’s who start on purees and linger there past the 9th month without advancing through various safe textures are likely to develop a feeding delay and thus should be referred for a feeding evaluation.

✨I recently posted several reels on signs of readiness, why starting a few weeks before the 6 month birthday might be optimal for most kids (and why starting even earlier is not a good idea) and other tips for feeding baby. You’ll find those reels in my highlights under “feeding baby” and “feeding myths” but also much more information in my new book, Responsive Feeding: The Baby-First Guide to Stress-Free Weaning, Healthy Eating and Mealtime Bonding. See link in my bio for all my books.

📚Do you have a copy of Responsive Feeding? Please let me know in the comments – I’d love to hear if it’s been helpful! 🥰Melanie
#melaniepotock

*Northstone K, et al. ALSPAC Study Team. Avon Longitudinal Study of Pregnancy and Childhood. The effect of age of introduction to lumpy solids on foods eaten and reported feeding difficulties at 6 and 15 months. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2001 Feb

#blw #blwmyth #blwinspiration #babyled #feedingbaby #myfirstbabyboy #myfirstbabyboy #ashaigers #slpmom #otmom #feedingtherapy #feedingtherapist #responsivefeeding


📚Here’s how the science stacks up with it comes to starting solids with your baby: It’s the 6-month trifecta! Immunity, Flavor & Gut Windows are OPEN! 

🤍Immunity Window: Your baby’s immune system plays a key role in WHEN to start solids. Aim for just before the 6-month birthday for best gut health. Your baby’s gut health has been shows to lay a crucial role in overall health & the development of diseases.

💛Motor Window: Babies make the most progress learning to chew starting at about 6 months, according to research. General signs of motor readiness include head & neck control, trunk stability, sitting with minimal supports, crossing midlins and bringing toys to mouth.

❤️Flavor Window: Babies are more likely to accept tastes with interest between 4 and 6 months. Given that we’re aiming for the ideal overlap with the motor and immunity windows for optional gut health, wait till closer to 6 months for that “sweet spot” when starting solids.

🥰Learn more in my book, Responsive Feeding! DM me for the link or see link in bio!

📚Research:
👉🏼Frederiksen, B et al (2013). Infant exposures and development of type 1 diabetes mellitus: TheDiabetes Autoimmunity Study in the Young (DAISY). JAMA pediatrics, 167(9), 808–815.Gisel E. G. (1991). 👉🏼Effect of food texture on the development of chewing ofchildren between sixmonths and two years of age. Developmental medicine and child neurology, 33(1), 69–79.Gaufin, T., Tobin, N. H., & Aldrovandi, G. M. (2018). 👉🏼The importance of the microbiome inpediatrics and pediatric infectious diseases.Current opinion in pediatrics,30(1), 117–124.Harris, G., & Mason, S. (2017). 👉🏼Are There Sensitive Periods for Food Acceptance in Infancy?.Current nutrition reports, 6(2), 190–196.Norris, J. M., et al (2003). Timing of initial cereal exposure in infancy and riskof isletautoimmunity. JAMA, 290(13), 1713–1720.Ziegler, A. G, et al (2003). 👉🏼Early infant feeding and risk of developing type 1 diabetes-associatedautoantibodies. JAMA, 290(13), 1721–1728. doi.org/10.1001/jama.290.13.1721

🤍💛Melanie💛🤍
#melaniepotock #startingsolids #ashaigers


⚠️Valved straws for babies & toddlers make the cup spill-proof, but they encourage Littles to maintain a suckling (not sucking) motion with their tongue - rather than developing the correct tongue movements for a more mature swallow pattern. 

👶🏼That’s important for facial development & helping kids manage new textures as they advance to chewier foods.

👉🏼Still, as much as I want you to avoid valved straws, it’s more about your child’s intensity of suck/suckle, the duration and the frequency of using this type of straw that causes concern. Being a parent myself, I get it! You are going to need something occasionally that’s spill proof, but you want to limit how often you use it. So, I’ve got the solution for you! #originalidea 🤍

🤍Buy your favorite valved straw cup and then, buy another color. 💙Put a sticker or a mark on the cup that signals the adults to only reach for this cup if you absolutely need spill proof! The Cool Cat is fun because it can be customized (for a fee) with your child’s name, but you can also use !!! or another symbol to remind you – just grab it occasionally. 

✂️Cut the valve off one cup (see reel pinned to top of my page for how) to do so, and an example of “suckling”) to encourage your child to suck properly. THAT is the cup you want to use most of the time.

🔗Need links to my favorite cups, DM the word “best” and you’ll get it automatically. (DMs only please, thanks!)

❓Questions? Drop them in the comments! I’m happy to help!
🥰Melanie 
#melaniepotock #kidscups #ashaigers #orofacialmyology #sippycups


🥰Need the perfect cup for your kid? Just DM me and tell me their age and what you’ll be using it for…daycare, highchair, travel etc! Happy to help! The perfect cup for ALL kids doesn’t exist - we have to look at features, oral motor skills, age of your child and more.

👋🏼Hi, I’m Melanie and I have a special love for kids and cups .♥️ I am a speech-language pathologist and feeding specialist who wants to make sure that your child has the best cup for their oral motor and facial development. 

😉Yep, It’s just me here … I’m the one answering the DM’s and I’ll reply as soon as I can so we can find the best cups to fit your needs.

#melaniepotock #slpfeeding #ashaigers


🤒Your kid’s sick, and you need to crush the meds to add to their food or they just won’t take them? Tempted to open the capsule and sprinkle the medication on something yummy? 

⚠️CHECK WITH YOUR PHARMACIST FIRST. Some meds have a special time-release coating specifically designed to be absorbed in certain places in the stomach or intestine. Remove that coating and your kid could get the wrong dose and/or cause tissue damage or worse.

💊Likewise, medication inside capsules is sometimes designed with a time-release coating. Your pharmacist might permit sprinkling on food IF consumed in one or two quick swallows with no chewing. Pudding or something of that consistency works well.

✨Be sure to check out my previous 2 reels on teaching kids how to swallow pills or to drink liquid meds. The more you’re prepared now for when your kids get sick…the easier it will be to get the medication down to help them feel better. 💕Melanie

#melaniepotock

#rsv #rsvseason #kidsflu #sickkids #sicktoddler #medsforkids #slpfeeding #slpsofintagram #instaslp #pediatricianlife #peditrician #feedingtherapy #toddlertrouble #parentinghacks #feedinglittles #fluseason #fluseasonsucks


😳Oh no, your kid needs to take medicine but can’t swallow pills? Here’s my strategy for that very common problem! For kids 4 and up*…

✨Practice swallowing (plain) mini M&M with tiny bit of pudding

✨Then swallowing mini M&M with 1 small sip of water

✨Then swallowing 1/2 of a regular M&M with pudding

✨Then swallowing 1/2 of a regular M&M with water

✨We don’t typically practice with the whole M&M as most pills aren’t that size or shape. The point is to practice swallowing something with water without chewing. The beauty of the M&M is that when cut in half, it melts very quickly and won’t lodge in the throat yet provide the experience of swallowing a solid that’s similar to a pill. 

✨Once comfortable, "warm up" with 1/2 M&M swallowed with water, followed by the pill, and when successful, a bit of pudding to ensure the pill is in the stomach. 

Let me know if you're going to try this!
❤️Melanie

*If you’re preschooler or older child has a tongue thrust, they may not be able to learn with this method, although it’s worth a try. Consult with an orofacial myologist if a child is having trouble swallowing pills due to tongue-thrusting. 
#melaniepotock

#pickyeaters #sensoryprocessing #feedingtherapy #feedingtherapist #ashaigers #pillswallowing #orofacialmyology #otmom #slpmom #feedinglittles #preschoolproblems #pediatricians #kidsmedicine #pillswallowingroblems #feedingkids #slpfeedingtherapy


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.

Blog

feeding advice for parents and professionals

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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
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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
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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
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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