Ensuring your child has a nourishing breakfast every morning pays dividends, as it means their body and brain is fuelled for a day of learning and play, and their body is topped up with nutrients needed for healthy growth and development.
Every parent knows the saying breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The term breakfast means to break the fasting period endured overnight.
Children are creatures of habit so routines created early in life are likely to be carried into adulthood. According to the 2011-12 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey, 13.2% of boys and 18.6% of girls skipped breakfast, a habit that increased with age.
Allowing your child to skip breakfast means they are missing out on key nutrients needed for healthy growth.
Recent research from the United Kingdom* revealed that among children (aged 4 – 18 years) who skipped breakfast, 31% did not get the minimum daily amount of iron and 19% did not meet daily calcium targets for strengthening of bones.
On the days that younger children (4-10 years) ate breakfast, they had significantly higher intakes of folate, vitamin C, calcium and iron compared to the days they skipped breakfast, confirming just how important it is for children to establish a routine of eating breakfast from a very young age.
Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) and founder of Nutrition Speak Vanessa Schuldt says that children who eat breakfast tend to have more nutritious diets as a whole and better eating habits, ensuring they are set up to make lifelong wholesome food choices. Eating a nourishing breakfast every day also helps to improve mental performance and aid your child’s learning”.
Guardian Early Learning Group’s CBD Centres run a breakfast program that invites families to join their children for breakfast at the centre, as part of the daily fee.
Centre Manager Krissy Andrews, from Guardian’s Barangaroo Centre says, “Offering the breakfast program at the centre aims to eliminate the stress for families rushing with the commute. It also creates an opportunity to meet with other families and calmly settle their children into the day, all while ensuring they are not missing the most important meal of the day for growth and development.”
Not only is it important to eat breakfast every day, understanding the food you are feeding your child is just as vital. Choosing a breakfast that combines carbohydrate-rich foods to fuel the brain and protein + fibre-rich foods to help stay full for longer is the key.
Accredited Practising Dietitian Vanessa Schuldt explains why giving your child a healthy breakfast is a must.
• Breakfast helps to replenish energy and nutrient supplies to kick-start the day. Skipping breakfast makes it a struggle for children to get all the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development.
• Breakfast fuels the brain to improve children’s learning capacity. Offering breakfast foods rich in carbohydrates and protein helps to boost your child’s attention span, concentration and memory at preschool/school.
• Children who eat breakfast tend to make better food choices for the rest of the day and eat healthier overall. Filling up in the morning means they are less likely to be hungry for snacks during the day.
• A nutritious breakfast helps keep blood sugars on an even keel, which in turn aids good behaviour. Without a morning refuel, children can feel tired, restless and irritable.
Top breakfast picks for your child:
• High fibre cereal with reduced-fat milk, topped with fresh fruit and reduced fat yoghurt.
• Wholemeal or high fibre toast/crumpets with a healthy topping such as sliced banana and honey, peanut butter, vegemite and avocado, cheese and
• Raisin toast with ricotta and sliced banana.
• Wholemeal English muffins with poached or scrambled eggs.
• Baked beans and wholemeal toast.
• Fresh fruit salad with reduced fat yoghurt.
• Jaffle filled with baked beans or reduced-fat cheese and tomato.
• Porridge with sultanas.
• Bircher muesli.
“Excuses like lack of time or fussy eating issues should not get in the way of your child gaining their essential nutrients for the day. Leading by example and starting the day enjoying breakfast as a family will help set building blocks for healthy eating habits for your child in the long term,” adds Vanessa Schuldt.
What do your kids have for breakfast each day? Does it vary much?
Share your comments below.