We want kids to get messy because we want them to experience food with all their senses. -Melanie Potock

49: Speech & Picky Eating: Expert Tips to Help Parents Intro New Foods to Kids

Did you know that the way your child eats can affect their speech and vice versa? Melanie Potock is a Speech-Language Pathologist who became a pediatric feeding expert through her experience as a mom of a former picky eater. She uses her SLP expertise to help parents introduce new foods to kids, form healthy eating habits, and really lay the foundation for a lifetime of good nutrition.

I’m honored to host her here today in the Healthy Parenting Connector! Here’s what you’ll learn (and more):

  • Why Melanie didn’t agree with the advice her pediatrician gave her about her “picky eater” and strategies she used to successfully infuse joy into the process.
  • The mistake many parents make by skipping 2 of Melanie’s “3 E’s of Eating” — expose and explore — and practical tips to incorporate those into your children’s eating experience.
  • Why it’s so important to teach kids the difference between “growing time” and “eating time.”
  • Really easy tips for introducing foods to babies (and it will shock you how long you should use purees before starting something more solid!).
  • The problem with food pouches and sippy cups and why drinking through a straw is better than both!
  • A phrase parents should never use when introducing a new food to children, plus practical strategies for successfully adding variety to your table.
  • A quick few notes for parents of special needs kids that gives such a message of hope!

I just met Melanie for the first time on this interview, but we started thinking with the same brain, I think, agreeing on Americans and snacking, practical parenting strategies, and our mutual fascination of brain science (and its application). I know you’ll love her too, and these tips will really make a difference in your household immediately!

Can’t see the video? Click to watch “Speech & Picky Eating” on YouTube.

No time to watch the whole video? Here are the notes!

Picky Eaters Video Timestamps

  • 0:12: Today I’m here with Melanie Potock a Speech-Language Pathologist, pediatric feeding expert, and most importantly, a mom of a former picky eater.
  • 1:29: Part of what Melanie does today is teach pediatricians feeding therapy techniques. She shares how that came about.

The more we understand the whole child, the better. -Melanie Potock

  • 2:47: We chat about Melanie’s experience parenting a picky eater and some of the lessons she learned through it.
  • 4:32: Melanie went to school to become a Speech Language Pathologist once her daughter was older. She shares how she reflects back on the techniques she used with her daughter now that she has more formal education and how she has synthesized her personal experience and education.

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How to Help Your Picky Eater

  • 6:02: Melanie’s teaching is based on three E’s: expose, explore and expand. She followed these basic ideas with her daughter and has now formalized it isn’t a philosophy of feeding picky eaters.
  • 6:29: The first step towards trying something new is to expose them through grocery shopping, gardening, farmer’s markets, etc. The expose stage can include involving kids in cooking, letting them build things with their food or anything that merges food and play.
  • 7:09: We move from expose to explore. This involves gently pushing the child to get more out of their comfort zone. This can include holding a piece of food in their mouth or making more complicated recipes. Expansion happens after these two base steps. Most parents skip right to expand.

Wish you didn’t have to feel nervous when your kids ask to use knives?


How to Deal With Snacks and Meal Timing

  • 7:47: Melanie shares her recommendations for snacks and timing. Another misstep she sees parents making is offering snacks that are too large and too frequent. Kids need to be allowed to develop an appetite, not always fed at the first sign of hunger. She has some terms to help communicate to your kids when it’s time for a snack and when it isn’t.
  • 10:03: There are different types of hunger. As parents we can help kids learn the difference between bored hunger, emotional hunger and real hunger which can develop a healthy relationship with food for their future.

How to Start Introducing Foods

  • 10:41: We talk about introducing food to babies and toddlers to get your kids off on the right path. She shares some benefits of purees that you may not have heard before.
  • 14:30: We talk about the pros and cons of feeding purees in pouches. Many parents think pouches are the same as drinking from straws from a motor skill standpoint, but that’s not true. Listen in here to hear the differences.
  • 18:10: We go a bit further into the when and why babies should learn to drink from a straw.

Learning to eat is a developmental process. -Melanie Potock

  • 19:16: Melanie has some tips for introducing new foods to older kids. She has one phrase you shouldn’t use when offering something new. Her advice for giving kids investment in the meal is right in line with our mission here at KCRF!
  • 20:56: We chat knife skills and young kids. :p
  • 23:43: Melanie speaks to parents of kids with special needs about how to involve them in the kitchen and mealtime.
  • 26:08: What about kids who are so picky they only eat a handful of foods? Melanie has an article that gives some tips for kids with autism which will also be helpful for extreme picky eaters.
  • 27:41: Melanie shares about her latest book “Adventures in Veggieland.” It’s arranged around the seasons and includes activities and recipes for 20 different vegetables.

Resources We Mention to Raise Adventurous Eaters

Melanie Potock

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 three books, including co-authoring the award-winning Raising a Healthy Happy Eater.

How Speech and Picky Eating are Connected

What You Should Do Next:

1. Subscribe to The Healthy Parenting Connector

Katie Kimball

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About Katie Kimball

Katie Kimball, CSME, creator of Kids Cook Real Food and CEO of Kitchen Stewardship, LLC, is passionate about connecting families around healthy food. As a trusted educator and author of 8 real food cookbooks, she’s been featured on media outlets like ABC, NBC and First for Women magazine and contributes periodically on the FOX Network.

Since 2009, busy moms have looked to Katie as a trusted authority and advocate for children’s health, and she often partners with health experts and medical practitioners to stay on the cutting edge. In 2016 she created the Wall Street Journal recommended best online kids cooking course, Kids Cook Real Food, helping thousands of families around the world learn to cook. She is actively masterminding the Kids’ Meal Revolution, with a goal of every child learning to cook.

A mom of 4 kids from Michigan, she is also a Certified Stress Mastery Educator, member of the American Institute of Stress and trained speaker through Bo Eason’s Personal Story Power.

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