How to: Feed fusspot children

Children can learn to love breakfast if you make it fun and nutritious.

By Donna Fleming
You know breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but trying to convince your kids or grandkids to eat it can be a mission, let alone getting them to eat something healthy.
Tell them children who don’t eat breakfast find it harder to concentrate in class and may not have the energy for sport and other physical activities.
If that doesn’t do the trick, try these strategies, depending on their reason for turning up their nose at breakfast.
  • If they sleep too late or are in a rush doing other things, get them up half an hour earlier and make bedtime half an hour earlier at night. Make it clear breakfast is a priority
  • Eat with them. If you sit down to eat as a family, they will be more inclined to eat
  • If they don’t like traditional breakfasts like cereal or toast, let them have other foods – at least they’ll be eating something. Last night’s leftovers are one option or try the sort of foods they would normally have for lunch, like a toasted sandwich, cheese and crackers, sliced veges with hummus or even salad and cold meats. It’s better than nothing
  • Some people – children included – just can’t face food first thing in the morning. If so, find something light that will suffice until they can have more substantial food at morning tea. Some fruit or yoghurt will keep them going
  • Smoothies are a good option for children who baulk at heavy breakfasts and they can be packed full of fruit. Adding some flavoured protein powder will make it seem more like a treat and less like a nutritious and sustaining breakfast
  • Make breakfast fun. Cut toast into shapes using cookie cutters. Hard-boil a couple of eggs the night before and draw silly faces on the shells. Arrange food on the plate to look like a face
  • If you want to avoid unhealthy sugary cereals but that’s all they’ll eat, do a deal. Allow them a very small portion of their preferred food if they eat something healthy first. For example, let them have a very small bowl of sweetened cereal after they’ve had scrambled eggs or wholegrain toast
  • If all else fails, try bribery. While this is far from ideal, hopefully getting them to eat their toast by awarding them stars or promising a trip to the park will get them into the habit of eating breakfast and you can eventually ease up on the treats.

Children who don’t eat breakfast

  • Tend to have a higher body mass index
  • May be lacking in iron and other important nutrients
  • Generally don’t do as well in school as those who do consume breakfast
  • Find it harder to pay attention in class.
Image credit: Rob Shaw/ bauersyndication.com.au

read more from