I Want My Preschooler to Have a Good Breakfast, But He Only Eats Froot Loops!
I don’t get it. Why are so many parents reluctant to be in charge of what goes into their kids’ mouths? I see tots of two at the grocery store, dictating the family budget. “I want Little Debbies!” and wham, Little Debbie goes flying right into the cart.
One of the biggest mistakes parents make is feeding tiny tots gigantic portions. “Here ya go sweetheart. Here’s a stack of pancakes, six sausage links and a side of Tater Tots.”
My advice is to cut-back. Way back.
A plateful of anything can be overwhelming. So mom, a spoonful or two may be plenty for the small-fry.
When you set food on the table, expect your kids to try it. Keep a positive attitude. Unless they’re allergic to it, of course, or it’s something totally gross, like head cheese. I had a rule. If my kids didn’t like something, or it was new, they had to try one bite. Just one. (The “or no dessert” thing never worked at our house because I rarely served dessert.)
Here’s an example of how things were around our house: In the second grade my oldest daughter took a test that had her circle the object that is not good to eat. There were five items, one of which was an inedible object. My daughter circled the cookie.
The teacher must have thought she was a low achiever.
Kids need “nutrient-dense” foods for breakfast. That means forget the Pop Tarts. If you have a little Banshee who guzzles her milk and then refuses to eat, take the milk off the table. Milk is a concentrated protein and very filling. It can displace a tiny appetite. If this becomes a perpetual problem, serve beverages after the kids have made a dent in their meal. I have a similar problem when I drink too many glasses of wine before dinner.
Only it’s not so much that I’m too full; I just can’t find the plate.
When our kids were young, our family always ate breakfast together. But by the time I had nursed the baby, gotten seconds for whoever wanted them and cleaned up the spills, I was ready to eat again – this time in peace. That’s when I sent the kids out to play and took the chocolate eclairs from the back of the freezer. The truth is, I couldn’t have afforded chocolate eclairs, even if I had wanted them. I spent all our money at the natural food store.
I found out that my kids really liked food that was good for them. Fresh-squeezed orange juice, brown rice, all kinds of fresh fruits and veggies. And the more natural food is, the fewer additives and preservatives, the more it costs.
Like many first-time parents, I had a lot of mistaken ideas about what kids really need to survive. For example, I thought I was required to provide them with Nestlé’s Quik.
The commercial said children love it.
Then I read the label. Quik is full of sugar, so I stopped buying it. This is a no-brainer. If you don’t want your kids having Quik -or Froot Loops or sticky buns – for breakfast, stop buying the stuff. Your kids will eat what you buy.
Tell them when they get to be mommies and daddies they can serve their kids whipped cream on white bread, for all you care. Kids need the different nutrients provided by a broad palette of colors and textures. See it as exercising your parental rights. If your preschooler thinks he’s in charge of breakfast now, just wait till he’s fifteen. He’ll think he’s in charge of you!
Just remember: small portions. And once they finish everything, they can have more.
Here are some yummy breakfast ideas for your little ones. Serve with love.
· Hardboiled egg and 1/2 bagel with melted cheese.
· Breakfast frittata or quiche. Add grated zucchini, chopped spinach, diced red pepper, turkey sausage, etc.
· Barbara’s Organic Hole n’Oats cereal with banana (once a week special!) Add soy, almond, or cow’s milk.
· Rice or noodle bowl (try buckwheat!) with tofu, leftover chicken or beef and frozen veggies (add a dash of Bragg liquid aminos. Yum!).
· Orange slices with scrambled cheesy-eggs and ½ slice sprouted grain toast (Alvarado St. make a great sourdough. Get it in the freezer section of your health food store)
· One-half cup creamy oatmeal (for gluten-free diets try buckwheat or amaranth) cereal with ground flax and blueberries or other fresh fruit and half a bagel spread with nut butter (peanut, almond, or sesame tahini) * Make oatmeal extra creamy by adding uncooked oats to cold water before boiling. Add soy, almond or cow’s milk.
· Applesauce pancake and turkey sausage.
· One-half breakfast burrito or taco, filled with scrambled eggs, cheese, tomato, meat and potato).
· Yogurt parfait with fresh fruit. Add ½ slice whole grain toast with nut butter.
· Rice pudding with raisins (for more protein, use grains like amaranth or quinoa instead of rice).
From the time my kids were babies, I experimented with textures, colors and different ways of cooking food: baked, steamed, stir-fried, etc. I didn’t make an issue if someone didn’t like something. Because when it comes down to it, eating is more about being together than it is about food.
- Find more great breakfast ideas at http://teamnutrition.usda.gov/Resources/EatSmart/powerupwithbreakfastbrochure