16 Kid-Friendly Breakfasts
Mornings get hectic, so it can be easy to skimp on breakfast. Maybe you give your toddler the same frozen waffle with butter every morning. Or you’re lucky if your teen grabs a granola bar on his way out the door.
But experts say the a.m. meal is so important that you and your kids deserve better.
“One of the things we know for certain is that brain function depends on having breakfast,” says Robert Murray, MD, a professor of pediatric nutrition at The Ohio State University.
Ideally the meal should include carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats -- that’ll give your child energy until lunch, he says. “Essentially, try to mix and match from each of the food groups when you put together your child’s breakfast.”
You don’t have to ban your kid’s favorites from the menu, like sugary syrup or high-sodium cereal. “A diet that contains some sugars, sodium, and saturated fats can still be healthy -- and these are OK to include in small amounts if it means a child is more likely to eat foods that are highly nutritious,” Murray says. “Every parent knows that keeping young kids excited about food requires negotiation, which means you can’t throw away all of your tools.”
Some other rules to be sure your kids (and you) are getting the best possible start to the day:
- Aim to serve a mix of foods from the five food groups: veggies (yes, for breakfast), fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and healthy protein.
- Stick to whole foods as much as you can, and avoid bagged, boxed, and packaged ones.
- Give your kids’ current favorites little health boosts. For example, add a smear of peanut butter and a banana to their frozen waffle, or mix a little flax powder or a handful of berries into a bowl of cereal.
- Offer a few different foods they can choose. Just like you get bored with the same-old bowl of oats in the morning, kids can tire of their go-tos.
- Prep breakfast ahead of time. Whether you put the pieces together the night before or use the weekend to plan what you’ll serve, breakfast is a lot easier when you put some thought into it ahead of time, says Jennifer Glockner, RD, a dietitian in Los Angeles.