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

Atlanta, GA on April 27, 2024
Anderson, SC on April 29, 2024

Live On-Line Courses

Food Allergies Masterclass, August 10, 2024
Appetite Masterclass, August 10, 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.


✨Free workshop! Picky Eating in Littles: Let’s Climb Out of the Chicken Nugget Rut!✨

🙌🏼Join me for the third season of the incredibly popular #LifeSkillsNow summer camp! Over 100 workshops for free, including little old me helping you with your picky eater!🥰 Starts this coming week!!!!

👉🏼COMMENT #lifeskills (all one word) for the link!

✨Going to be so good ! And it’s free!✨

❤️Melanie❤️
#melaniepotock #lifeskillsnow #pickyeater


❤️Babies are ready to start solids at about 6 months of age, but there are games that you can play with them to boost along their fine and gross motor skills necessary for self-feeding and accepting food from your hand/spoon too! #affiliatelink 

🥰These 3 toys from the @lovevery Play Kit called “The Sensor” are designed to help baby explore with all of their senses, especially those needed for feeding development - but the kit contains much, much more! 

👉🏼 ❤️❤️Comment LOVEVERY & I’ll send the link with info on free shipping to you!❤️❤️

🌈The Organic Cotton Rainbow Ball sparks the visual sense (so many colors!) and the sense of touch. Babies are programmed to explore the world with their little hands and mouths. The colors of the ball are so hard to resist and baby can reach (hello gross and fine motor development!) and try to bring the soft texture up to their mouth. Before you know it, they’ll be doing the same movement with food in their little fists!

😊The Tummy Time Wobbler captures baby’s attention during tummy time and more! Tummy time is not only important for developing the core muscles to help baby learn to sit up on their own, hold their head steady – but those gross motor skills support the fine motor skill of swallowing new foods safely! Tummy time boosts along the sense of proprioception and the vestibular sense – those will help when baby is learning to sit upright and eat!

🤍The Magic Tissue Box can be used in so many ways, but my favorite has to be learning to reach and grasp with first both hands, then one, then the other. When we encourage baby to use both sides of their body, we are also encouraging them to use both sides of their BRAIN! You’ll see this movement when baby starts solids and they reach across to the RIGHT side of the high chair tray to grab a piece of food with their LEFT hand, and vice versa. More sensory input and we know sensory play is essential for brain development!

🤔Got questions about the importance of early play and the direct relationship to starting solids? Ask me in the comments!

🥰Special thanks to Lovevery for sending me this beautiful kit! 
#melaniepotock #Lovevery  #LoveveryGift


It’s the Dad stance for me.😂 Happy Father’s Day! 

✨Follow @heyfreesamples - Just found their account yesterday and can’t stop laughing! 😂This reminds me of my Dad and my husband so much! The best!

🥰Melanie
#melaniepotock #fathersday2024


🙊Starting solids, but baby just doesn’t seem to be interested? ✨Spark that interest with food play! Here’s why:

👶🏼👋🏼Babies are programmed to explore with their hands first before bringing food up to their mouth. There are so many nerve endings in babies hands!!! They serve a purpose when it comes to starting solids!

❤️By encouraging baby to get messy and explorer food on their tray ,you’re setting them up for success! 

✨🤍✨This is Responsive Feeding, the only method that’s endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Comment #books (plural) and I’ll send you the direct affiliate link to my latest book, Responsive Feeding!❤️

❓Did you notice in this video how this mom didn’t try to get the spoon inside baby’s mouth? If baby was eager., opening their mouth and even leaning in a little bit to signal“YES, I want that!” Then by all means, feel free to offer the spoon to baby’s mouth!

😘Hey, did you see those toes wiggle? So cute!

🤍🥄🤍This little guy wasn’t ready for that and this mom brilliantly encouraged him to play with the spoon , holding it low on the tray… and he grabbed it right away!

❓Got questions ? Drop those in the comments too!

🥰Melanie
#melaniepotock #responsivefeeding #slpfeeding #feedingbaby


The no-spill feature is so tempting for parents! The sucking (like on a bottle or a thumb) is so hard to resist for kids!💕 Try your best to skip the spouted sippy cups (or limit them to RARELY using them). Here’s why:

😛Babies gradually learn to lift up their tongue tip to swallow by about the first birthday. But if spouts hold down the tongue, they don’t get the practice I think they need. It’s also just one of the reasons we start bottle weaning when baby starts solids so they are off the bottle right after their first birthday. 🍼

🥤What to use instead? Comment #bestcups for a link to my Amazon shop (#affiliatelink) to see my tested and best options. BTW, If were a businesswoman who didn’t care about your child’s mouth development, I’d LOAD that Amazon store with spouted sippy cups because they’re so darn convenient & marketed by baby companies as the next step in learning to use a cup (um, no!) but I can’t sell what I don’t believe in…even if we promise to use them only occasionally. 

👉🏼When it comes to how your child’s palate and face forms in the early years, there are many factors to consider – but they always come down to 1) frequency of use 2) duration or how long it’s used and 3) intensity or pressure on the structures. Can we measure that with every influential factor? It’s unlikely – but we can consider the advice of top professionals who SPECIALIZE in mouth development:

✨”Sucking on a rigid piece of plastic … can actually misshape the oral cavity and result in problems later in life like speech, airway, sleep quality, and facial form and aesthetics.” - Mark Burhenne, DDS

✨”Many if not most of these “no-spill” cups are just bottles in disguise” American Dental Association

✨”Many experts suggest that orofacial myofunctional disorders may develop as a result from…extended use of a pacifier and/or long-term use of sippy cups” -International Association of Orofacial Myology

❓❓Questions? Ask away!
❤️Melanie

*note - kids with medical issues related to aspiration may need spouted sippy cups #melaniepotock

#melaniepotock #slpmom #pickyeaters #pickyeating #pickyeater #feedingtherapy #feedingtherapist #ashaigers


🎧Noise-reducing headphones for babies & young children – it’s not just about protecting their hearing!

✨As a speech pathologist, I cringe when I see babies & young children exposed to loud music and crowd noise – and yes, it’s damaging their hearing – even with just one exposure. BUT WHAT SHOCKED ME WAS: According to Cornell University, research indicates that the physical environment profoundly influences developmental outcomes including academic achievement, cognitive, social and emotional development and chronic noise contributes to this. You may be able to tune it out, but babies & young kids can’t. 😳

❤️I know you care about your child’s brain development, so I’ve put together a list of the best noise-reducing headphones. Comment #noise (remember to use the hashtag!) & I’ll send you the link to my Amazon list. #affiliatelink 

More Info from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
✨Children have smaller ear canals than adults, which intensifies higher frequency sounds. And the concern is not only with volume, but how long and how often children are exposed to noise. Common everyday noises, like road traffic or a television playing in the background, can also disrupt sleep, learning and quality of life. It's very important to prevent harmful noise exposures starting early in a child's life."*

❓What you can do to protect your Littles:
👉🏼Educate family members on when headphones are important – a crowded mall during the holidays, with music echoing through the aisles is a good example! 
👉🏼If you live in a particularly noisy household, aim to reduce unnecessary “background” input like TVs, lawnmowers (close windows if possible) etc. You may be used to the extra noise, but it can be disturbing for children.
👉🏼For older kids, check the volume level on their music devices & make adjustments accordingly. 
Baby/Little Kids earphone should not be used all the time, just in situations where noise is concentrated or louder than a comfortable & conversational sound level.
🥰Melanie
#melaniepotock #slpfeeding #ashaigers 
Resources:
*healthychildren.org - Sounds-the-alarm-on-excessive-noise-and-risks-to-children
Cornell.edu


✨❓✨Introducing Possible Food Allergens to Baby? You’ll want to know this fact about PEANUT vs. SOY.

👋🏼Hi, I’m Melanie, a pediatric feeding specialist with a special interest in food allergies in young children. Follow me all week for tips and please, tag a friend who might find this helpful!

🥜If your baby or young child reacts to peanuts, they may not react to soy. BUT, if they react to soy (often offered as a first food) they are more likely to react to peanut and other allergens too…read on…

📚Savage et al. found that up to 88% of soy-allergic patients had peanut allergy or were significantly sensitized to peanut. Individuals with soy allergy were more likely to be allergic or sensitized to major allergens including peanuts, tree nuts, egg, milk and sesame than to non-peanut legumes such as beans, peas and lentils. 

✨👉🏼✨If you are a professional treating kids with pediatric feeding difficulties, you NEED TO KNOW THIS STUFF!!!! 👉🏼Grab a seat in my virtual Masterclass titled Food Allergies: Safe Introduction & Management in Feeding Therapy. COMMENT #masterclass & I’ll send you the link to learn more! 

❤️Melanie

#melaniepotock #foodallergy #feedingbaby #startingsolids #slpfeeding #slpfeedingtherapy


🥑Baby allergic to avocado or is it something else? You may have heard of an allergy to latex, but have you ever heard of latex-fruit allergy? And what does that have to do with allergy to AVOCADO and more? If you have a young baby starting solids, you need to read this…

🥰Hi, I’m Melanie, a pediatric feeding specialist with a special interest in food allergies in babies & young children. 👉🏼Follow me for feeding tips – and this week, info on introducing solids that include possible allergens.

✨🏥✨🎈Latex allergies are more common in children who have exposure to latex via medical procedures and/or have a family history of latex allergy. Kids can experience wheezing, hives and more if they come in contact with a latex balloon, latex pacifier (less commonly used in the USA) etc. 
Latex is actually made from the rubber tree, and includes a specific protein. 

🥑🥝🍌BUT, if you are allergic to latex, you may also react to certain fruits and vegetables, like AVOCADO, kiwi and/or banana! Those are also common first-foods that we offer to young babies. Allergic reactions can occur just by touching the foods as well as eating even a small amount.

❤️The good news is, latex-fruit allergy is rare in infants. Should your baby experience hives, itching, swelling of the lips, tongue or oral tissues after consuming any food, stop serving the food immediately and call your pediatrician. It’s rare for a baby to experience trouble breathing, but call 911 if you have any concerns at all, especially then. 

🥑And yes, baby could also be allergic to avocado, but it’s not one of the top nine allergens that are more commonly seen in Littles. So all in all, I still recommend it as one of several first foods! 

✨👉🏼✨See yesterday’s post on how to introduce the TOP NINE allergens to baby…

💕Follow for more tips like this all week! Please tag a friend who might like to follow along too!

🥰Melanie
#melaniepotock #feedingbaby #slpfeeding #ashaigers #foodallergies


🥜🧀🌾Introducing the top nine food allergens to baby early and often is recommended by top health organizations, but how early is early? ALSO - did anyone notice thew word CAPTION missing at the end of this reel?🤦🏼‍♀️Thanks for reading...

📖Research indicates small puree tastes as early as 4 months but in general complimentary foods (solid foods) are introduced at 6 months of age.

😕But it can feel so overwhelming to parents! 

❓Wondering how much to offer, how often, and how to present safe portions to baby?

✨Comment “Toolbox” for the link to my free toolbox with lots of free downloads (and I won’t ask for your email, you just get them for free) including my Baby’s Allergen Exposure Chart to help you keep track.

👉🏼Watch for posts all week on food allergies in babies & toddlers…and tag a friend who might be interested!

✨Professionals in Feeding Therapy✨Take my August 10th Masterclass on Food Allergies – Safe Introduction & Management in Feeding Therapy! DM me for info!

❤️More posts coming this week…

🥰Melanie

Research:

Greer, et al. (2019) The effects of early nutritional interventions on the development of atopic disease in infants and children: The role of maternal dietary restriction, breastfeeding, hydrolyzed formulas, and timing of introduction of Allergenic Complementary Foods. Pediatrics, 143(4).

Schroer, B., Groetch, M., Mack, D. P., & Venter, C. (2021). Practical challenges and considerations for early introduction of potential food allergens for prevention of food allergy. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, 9(1). 
#melaniepotock #foodallergy #feedingbaby #ashaigers #feedingslp


✨Homemade trail mix for your kids is a popular recipe that I am seeing on Instagram! But…😳influencers are often seen adding three dangerous ingredients for young children.

❌Please, no marshmallows of any size. They are incredibly chokable for kids under the age of four. Mini M&Ms will melt in the mouth and are a nice alternative sweet for your mix. Mini chocolate chips are fine too but they melt easier in the heat and can get messy.

❌Please, no whole nuts. Chop, chop, chop instead.

❌Please, no raisins . Raisins clump together, especially when kids are reaching for a handful of trail mix. Try dry cereal that melts in the mouth and a few colorful pieces of fruit flavored cereal for variety. 

👊🏻One more safety tip for little mouths: Remind kids to eat with their fingers, and not with their fists. 😉 

👉🏼❓👉🏼Finding these tips helpful? Thank you for dropping a ❤️- it drives this post into more feeds and thus, helps raise awareness and keep kids safe. 
Thank you!
🥰Melanie

#melaniepotock #chokinghazard #feedingkids #ashaigers #feedingslp

#trailmix #choking #kidscpr


🥰Try my #parentinghack for helping baby drink from an open cup! #affiliate ✨Plus - a bonus tip for you below:

❤️Watch the reel for my magic ingredient to make learning open-cup drinking so much easier! The teeny-tiniest open cup is from @ezpzfun, and it’s sloped inside to help baby manage the thinner liquids as they progress in feeding development.❤️

👉🏼Comment ezpz and I’ll send you the link AND a discount code! 

💦Tip: Check baby’s positioning. Tilting the head back too far opens up the airway, causing baby to cough! That’s why filling the cup up almost to the top can make it much easier to manage those first sips.❤️

🥰Follow @mymunchbug_melaniepotock for more tips on feeding babies, toddlers & big kids❤️Melanie

#melaniepotock
#originalidea #ashaigers #slpfeeding #ezpzfun


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

+
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