We Are Unique. Our providers hold advanced degrees in Occupational Therapy and Speech Pathology. Which means we have spent hundreds upon hundreds of hours getting trained and certified in the diagnosis and treatment of infant feeding and swallowing problems. Feeding Therapists are experts on the structure and function of the mouth and the swallow. Our expertise can help babies become more efficient and coordinated feeders fast.
Baby or Mother?
Our training and expertise give us the ability to look at both baby and mother. An infant’s oral motor skills play an important role in the success of breastfeeding. In many cases, minor refinement in the infant’s oral motor skills can make an immediate difference to the success of the breastfeeding pair, as well as providing long-term benefits and preventing more serious problems (mobimotherhood.org). We strive to stay up-to-date with the newest research and techniques to provide families with the highest level of support in lactation and infant feeding and swallowing.
Meredith Pollaro, OTR/L, IBCLC
Meredith began her career as an Occupational Therapist in 2000 at The Children’s Hospital of the Kings Daughters in Virginia working in NICU and rehab settings, specializing in feeding and swallowing disorders, failure to thrive, cleft lip and palate, and administering swallow studies.
She later moved to Colorado and worked as the Director of Occupational Therapy at Vail Valley Medical Center. She started her training in lactation counseling in 2005 while working in a high altitude NICU, helping with bottle and breastfeeding. To further enhance her lactation skills she worked at a well baby hospital, Summit Medical Center, seeing inpatient and outpatient mothers/babies. Both hospitals participate in the Baby Friendly Initiative.
Meredith has some additional unique training and experiences: She has completed NOMAS training (Neonatal Oral-Motor Assessment Scale), Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative hospital training, various training in pediatric feeding and swallowing disorders, various training in perinatal mental health, and completed UC Davis’ Baby Behaviors train the trainer course. Meredith attends annual education events such as the International Lactation Consultant Association Conference. She also speaks at various conferences around Nevada to spread knowledge and awareness about these topics. She has spent time volunteering in Romania at a failure to thrive clinic.
Meredith has volunteered her time with the Northern Nevada Breastfeeding Coalition since moving to Nevada in 2012 and has held many roles. She is currently the Big Latch On Host. The coalition is where she met Emily and formed a partnership to help enhance the services she provides.
Emily Chappell, CCC-SLP, CLC
Emily is a Speech-Language Pathologist specializing in infant feeding and swallowing disorders. She received her master’s degree from the University of Nevada, Reno in Speech-Language Pathology in 2014. She has extensive training and experience working with infants and parents to meet their feeding goals. She has worked in pediatric inpatient units and in NICUs at both Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center and Renown Children’s Hospital here in Reno and at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, OR. She currently works for Nevada Early Intervention Services as a Feeding Specialist providing services to the most fragile and medically complex infants, supporting families in their homes. She is a Community Faculty Member for the University of Nevada, Reno Department of Speech Pathology, mentoring graduate students in infant feeding and occasionally lecturing on the topic.
After completing her Certified Lactation Counselor training in 2017, Emily realized just how important breastfeeding is to both the breastfeeding parent and the infant. She decided to pursue her passion and become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, the GOLD standard in lactation care. She is currently mentoring under Meredith to complete her required training hours to sit for the exam.
Emily is a breastfeeding mother and an active member of the Northern Nevada Breastfeeding Coalition.