If your weekday mornings make you feel more like an air traffic controller and less like a mom, you’re not alone! Between making sure the kids don’t sleep through their alarms, get dressed for the day (in clean clothes, of course!), pack their school bags with everything they need, brush their teeth and make it out the door on time, it’s a lot of directing!
Squeezing in a healthy breakfast for kids on top of it all can be tough.
The Importance of a Healthy Breakfast for Kids
As the saying goes, breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day. The word “breakfast” literally means to “break the fast,” that is, to eat again after a long time of not eating while you were sleeping. Eating a meal first thing in the morning helps rev up the metabolism and get the body moving with the nutrients and energy it needs to be at its best.
Some studies suggest that eating a healthy breakfast may even help kids get better grades in school!
Healthy Breakfast Ideas for Kids: The Basics
The best breakfast is the one a child will actually eat. But before you defer to breakfast pastries (which are basically desserts you eat in the morning!), consider these components to help boost nutrition.
A healthy breakfast for kids should include:
Carbohydrates, which gives the brain and body energy. Aim for complex carbohydrates that also provide some fiber, such as whole grains, fortified cereal and whole fruit.
Protein, to help keep the belly fuller longer. A growling stomach makes it hard to concentrate in class! A healthy breakfast for kids should include at least 7 grams of protein. You can get that from 1 cup of milk, 1 container of yogurt, or 1 cheese stick. Foods or beverages made with milk protein or whey protein (look for those words on an ingredient list) are also great options.
The Nutrients Kids Need
Some school bells ring so early in the morning, it’s hard to make time for breakfast. But make time, you must! Especially for teens and tweens who are growing crazy fast and need lots of nutrients and calories to fuel their brain and body.
Fact is, about 1 in 4 teens skip breakfast. That means they miss out on important nutrients they need, like:
- Calcium for growing bones
- Iron for carrying oxygen through the blood
- Vitamin C to support a healthy immune system
- Folate for healthy cells
- Fiber for regularity
- …among other important nutrients
How To Cut Through the Excuses
If you’re looking for breakfast ideas for kids, start by anticipating their excuses! Kids often skip (or skimp on) breakfast because they’re not hungry, they’re running late/have no time, or there’s nothing good to eat. Beat them at their game by:
- Setting the alarm 10 minutes earlier. A healthy breakfast for kids doesn’t need to take long, but don’t let time be an excuse!
- Preparing breakfast in advance. Making overnight oats is one easy breakfast idea for kids. You just need old fashioned oats, some milk, and an overnight soak in the fridge. In the morning your child can customize it with fresh berries or dried fruit, chopped nuts or a scoop of nut butter, or a dash of cinnamon and brown sugar. Quiches and homemade muffins can also be portioned and refrigerated. Another trick is to leave out the boxes of cereals with a bowl and spoon along with a note that reads “milk is in the fridge.”
- Stock up on grab-and-go items. Ready-to-drink breakfast shakes that provide nutrients for growing children are great for families on tight schedules! Be sure to look for ones with protein to keep kids fuller longer, and essential vitamins such as C and D, as well as minerals such as calcium and iron. Yogurt or cheese sticks are other portion-perfect and portable breakfast items. Pair them with some quality carbs such as apple slices or whole-grain crackers.
Looking for more breakfast ideas for kids? Start by setting a good example and eating a morning meal with your children, or talking about what you plan to eat once they leave for school. Sometimes modeling what you want them to do is the best way for them to learn.
Stay up to date with our Insights!