It is widely accepted that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it can still be hard for busy parents to find the time to plan, prepare and feed a nutritious breakfast to distracted children.
It is vital to lay good foundations of healthy eating, so always ensure that you and your child sit down and eat breakfast together. You will be giving your child the best example if you sit down and eat a bowl of muesli with milk, rather than eating a piece of toast as you dash around the kitchen. Not only are you instilling in him the importance of sitting at the table together and eating a nutritious breakfast, but I also believe that your body will be able to more easily digest the food than if you are eating on the go.
Your child is far more likely to enjoy his breakfast if he can see you do that too so prepare foods which you both enjoy and which will give you sufficient energy for the morning ahead.
I am a firm believer in the enormous benefits of oat porridge for breakfast. This can be prepared for all the family, and is generally enjoyed by babies from the age of six months - particularly with the addition of a little mashed banana to sweeten it. Older children may like to add a handful of raisins or a little honey or maple syrup to drizzle over it. Warm or cold milk can also be added when serving.
Oats provide an excellent start to the day as they are a complex carbohydrate giving slow-release energy to power you throughout the morning. They are a great source of dietary fibre, protein, several B vitamins and iron, and are also thought to lower cholesterol, so I would encourage everyone to include oats in their children's diets wherever possible.
Breakfast bonus points
- Choose wholegrain cereals that are low in added salt and sugar, such as Weetabix. Serve with milk and perhaps a spoonful of natural yoghurt.
- Try to include some fruit with your breakfast: a handful of dried fruit, fresh berries or chopped fruit on your cereal or with natural yoghurt; or slices of banana on wholegrain toast.
- If your family struggle to eat their 'five a day', pour everyone a glass of fruit juice to enjoy with breakfast. A small glass of pure juice counts as one portion of your daily fruit and vegetable requirements. Fresh juice has far more nutritional value than cartons of processed juice made from concentrate. When buying juice, choose those from the chiller cabinet, if possible.
- Serve fresh fruit smoothies alongside cereal to children who are slow eaters. This way they will enjoy the benefits of all that fruit, in one easy-to-drink glassful.
- Oat porridge with a handful of raisins
- Wholegrain cereal with milk, sprinkled with fresh berries in season
- Homemade muesli with milk
- Natural yoghurt and chopped fresh fruit
- Wholegrain toast spread with a little butter and sliced banana
- Scrambled eggs and wholegrain toast
- Oaty breakfast pancakes with natural yoghurt and fruit puree
- Crumpet or muffin topped with a poached egg
- Eggy bread with fruit puree
Taken from Feeding Made Easy by Gina Ford