Solutions to Common Breakfast Challenges
Challenge No. 3: Kids won't eat or even try healthy foods.
"My son used to only eat whole-grain cereals, since that was all I kept in the house. But recently he started begging for Froot Loops because he had them at his grandparents' house one weekend," says Staci Wilson, mom of 3-year-old Ari, in Pennington, New Jersey.
Compromise and Combine: To make both Mom and preschooler happy, Ward recommends mixing a cereal high in sugar with a whole-grain cereal, and then weaning him off the sugary one. In other words, make the breakfast a little bit better by sneaking in healthy foods when you can: Roll berries in a pancake or drizzle a little syrup on whole-grain waffles. Or follow Wilson's lead and sweeten plain oatmeal with applesauce instead of buying it presweetened.
Wilson also has used some overt tactics with success: "When Ari doesn't want to eat something, I bargain with him," she says. "He loves this chocolate drink that I make using 1/3 cup chocolate soy milk and 2/3 cup plain soy milk. So I tell him he can have the drink if he'll at least taste a food that he wouldn't normally agree to try." And seeing other children his age eat new foods inspires Ari to be adventurous, she says. "When I invite his friends over for breakfast on the weekends, he's considerably more open to testing his taste buds."
Reason with Your Preschoolers: It may be effective, too: "Recently my kids started asking for chocolate for breakfast. I explained the difference between healthy foods (those that we eat a lot because they make our muscles and bones stronger and our body and hair grow) and junky foods (those that can only be eaten sometimes or else they give us a tummy ache). They now want to eat the foods that will make them tall and strong," says Gold.
Challenge No. 4: They don't like "breakfast foods."
Why limit your options to the cereal aisle or bakery? Anything is better than skipping breakfast, but if you shoot for a meal that's made from three food groups, you can ensure that your child is getting a variety of nutrients, says Ward.
Healthy Alternatives: Here are three quick possibilities to help you rethink breakfast: pizza, a pita stuffed with a scrambled egg and salsa, or even a peanut butter and banana sandwich.
Challenge No. 5: They don't see you eating so they don't want to eat.
In any kind of eating situation, breakfast or otherwise, you set the example. If you skip breakfast, they might follow your lead. "In an ideal world we would all sit down together and have a healthy breakfast, but the morning can be too hectic for that. So I cut up fruit for all of us even if I have to eat bites in between running around the kitchen," says Gold.
Live Your Own Lessons: Breakfast doesn't have to be a perfect family moment, but you should view it as an opportunity to teach healthy eating habits by example. The best part is that you can apply all the good breakfast choices you make for your preschooler to yourself, too.