The Importance of Breakfast for A Child
Date Posted:24 January 2020
The first meal of the day can determine how your child will fare for the rest of the day. Here’s why breakfast is important for young ones:
- It helps maintain a healthy weight.
- It provides energy and stamina for the long day ahead.
- It improves alertness, mood and concentration in children.1
- It can affect your child’s academic performance.2
However, recent research has shown that 1 in 5 Australian children skip breakfast before school at least once a week.3 This would cause a significant, long term impact on a child’s overall health and development.
Both adults and children typically go 8 - 10 hours without food through the night, which is essentially a fast. We cannot emphasise enough how important it is for your child to eat after this ‘fast’ as they need to replenish the nutrients in their body for growth and development.
If you have trouble getting your child to eat breakfast, here are 3 tricks you can use to encourage your child to eat in the morning:4
1. Model the behaviour you want your child to learn
Children tend to imitate everything an adult does, even if it’s irrelevant to them. They are observant and learn by watching other people. Sit down and eat breakfast with your child. They will most likely model your behaviour and will look forward to eating with you.
2. Keep breakfast light
Some children skip breakfast because they are not hungry in the mornings. A large meal to start the day might not sound appetising to them. Even so, it is crucial that your child gets enough nutrients to keep them going for the rest of the day.
You can start by giving them smaller meals in the mornings. Small breakfast items can be packed full with nutrients — a fruit smoothie, a muesli bar, a yoghurt with fruits, or a slice of toast with nut butter or avocado.
Don’t get frustrated and pressure your child into eating breakfast. Instead, you can try to make the food more appealing by making them in fun shapes and faces.
3. Give them options
Let your child choose what they would like for breakfast the next day. Getting them to think about what they are going to eat can help improve their appetite in the mornings.
Keep in mind that a healthy breakfast needs to have a balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat to keep your child’s energy levels steady all day.5
If you are out of ideas, here are some quick, easy and healthy breakfast recipes you can use:6
- Raisin bread or fruit loaf, either plain or topped with ricotta cheese, and chopped strawberries or banana
- Wholegrain cereal with milk and chopped fruit such as banana or berries, or pureed fruit
- Hot porridge with milk, chopped banana, or berries
- Yoghurt topped with a muesli style cereal and chopped or pureed fruit
- Baked beans with wholegrain toast and a small glass of diluted fruit juice
- Scrambled or poached eggs with toast and a glass of milk
- Wholegrain muffins with a slice of cheese and tomato and a piece of fruit
- Toasted bagels with avocado and a glass of milk
- Wholegrain toast with a thin spread of jam or honey plus sliced banana and a small tub of yoghurt
- Fruit smoothies – simply blend milk, yoghurt, soft fruit and a sprinkle of wheatgerm or psyllium
If your child can’t start the day with breakfast at home, check to see if their school offers a breakfast program. Many schools work with non-profit organisations to ensure that their students start the school day with a full belly.
Breakfast doesn’t have to be a fancy meal 5 course meal. A simple healthy and balanced breakfast will provide energy for your child to develop and learn as they grow older. They need that boost in the mornings to keep their energy levels steady and regulate their appetites. As a bonus, you also won’t have to deal with a grumpy and hungry child in the morning anymore!
- Healthy breakfasts to improve mood and concentration in kids. (2014). Fox news. (Link)
- Weale, S. (2015). Healthy breakfasts fuel better academic results, says study. The Guardian. (Link)
- Longbottom, J. (2018). Australian children going hungry, report finds, with one in five kids missing meals. ABC News. (Link)
- The Yumble Team. (2019). Actionable Ways to Get Your Child to Eat Breakfast. Yumble blog. (Link)
- Getting Your Child to Eat Breakfast. Raising Children. (Link)
- Kids brainy breakfast ideas. Nutrition Australia. (Link)