It’s important to remember that the word breakfast literally means breaking our fast. We don’t typically eat through the night so our bodies have gone for a long period of time without fuel. Eating in the morning helps provide energy for both our brain and body. In fact, research shows that eating breakfast can improve our memory and concentration along with our mood and stress levels. Children should be encouraged to eat breakfast each morning as it can improve attainment, behaviour and has been linked to improved grades.
Besides energy, breakfast is also a good time to get other important nutrients into our diets, for example calcium, iron and B vitamins, along with protein and fibre. It can help us to maintain a healthy weight too.
Interestingly, adults and children who skip breakfast are more likely to eat foods high in sugar and fat later in the morning.
The NHS state that:
My child doesn’t like to eat breakfast, what can I do?
Lots of adults and children don’t feel like eating much (or anything) in the mornings. Try some of our helpful tips below:
- Start off with light bites – e.g. half a piece of fruit or a quarter of toast. After a little while our appetites in the morning will increase.
- Make sure your child has enough time to eat – being rushed to eat might impact on your child’s view of breakfast and reduce their appetite. To allow them a little extra time, you may need to wake them up 10 minutes earlier than normal.
- Set the table – you could try setting the table up for breakfast the evening before to save a little time in the morning.
- Is breakfast club an option? If you really struggle for time in the morning, you could check if your child’s nursery offers breakfast or their school runs a Breakfast Club. This is a great time for social interaction with other pupils and staff.
- Try to keep breakfast interesting! Being offered the same breakfast everyday can get boring and children’s motivation to eat may reduce. It’s a good idea to give children a couple of choices at breakfast time and allow them to choose the one they want.
- Make the food look appealing – include different colours, tastes and textures to make breakfast more enjoyable. Remember if the food looks exciting children are more likely to eat it!
Healthy breakfast top tips:
- Remember that young children can fill up quickly if they have too much fibre so it’s a good idea to offer a mixture of white and wholemeal bread.
- Pick breakfast cereals that are fortified with nutrients, such as B vitamins, vitamin D and iron.
- Choose cereals that are low or medium in sugar (green or orange on traffic light labelling).
- Try to serve a fruit or vegetables at every breakfast.
- Include milk and dairy products, such as yoghurt and cream cheese, at breakfast as they’re a good source of calcium.
- Always offer a cup of water or milk at breakfast time to help keep children hydrated.
Check out some of our nutritious breakfast ideas for your little ones (and the whole family!):
Tasty Toast Toppers
Carrot Cake Overnight Oats
Brilliant Breakfast Couscous
Yes, we know breakfast couscous sounds strange, but this recipe is honestly delicious and something totally different. Give it a try, you’ll be surprised!
*for children under 5 offer nuts in the form of smooth nut butters or finely ground