You may have heard people say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but actually all meals are important.
Breakfast time can be a point in the day of high stress for parents, especially those who have to get children to school or childcare and then get themselves to work. I don’t know about your house, but mornings are a bit crazy, trying to get out in 3 or 4 different directions depending on the day. And, I’m a morning person. Well I thought I was!
Even if you don’t have to get out of the door, sleep deprivation and the long list of tasks that need to or should be done get in the way. Breakfast needs to be quick and easy, doesn’t it?
Do you look at breakfast suggestions on social media and say – ‘no way’!? Or do you look and think ‘I must be a bad mum’? (you aren’t by the way!) Been there. It can make you feel awful. It can make you feel like you are depriving your child.
I don’t have time to make omelettes for breakfast! I need something quick and preferably something my half asleep self can make whilst I am also making sandwiches, checking my son has everything in his book bag and answering questions about what’s happening on the weekend!
I also don’t want to spend a lot on breakfast. Food is expensive enough.
Cue the cereal!
Why is cereal okay for adults but not okay for babies? Spoiler! It is okay for babies. There are a few things to consider though.
What to look for in a baby-friendly cereal:
1) Cereals need to be low in sugar or with no sugar. Children under 4 are recommended to avoid free sugar (that’s the sugar added to foods – even if it is fruit juice added for sweetness).
2) Cereals can be wholegrain but not too high in fibre – avoid bran for a couple of years. It’s just a bit too heavy for babies and that means they won’t properly absorb the nutrients they need from the food they are eating.
3) Try and go for a fortified breakfast cereal. These are cereals that have vitamins and minerals added to them. Iron, folate and B vitamins are often added and these are great boosts for your child’s nutrition. If you are following a vegan diet, check the cereal has vitamin B12 added too.
4) Try and serve the cereal with some fruit. This helps the iron in the cereal to be absorbed. A portion of fruit is a baby sized handful. Don’t go overboard or you will regret it in the nappy department and baby will fill up on fruit without getting the energy they need. If you are cooking porridge, adding a bit of frozen fruit to the porridge once it is cooked is a great way to cool it down quickly too.
5) If you don’t go for a fortified cereal – for example you offer plain oats, add some ground nuts to the cereal as well as the fruit to increase the amount of iron in the breakfast.
6) Serve the cereal with full fat milk, fortified/unsweetened soya or pea milk or yoghurt (full fat until they are 2, then semi skimmed until they are 5, after 5 they can have skimmed)
7) You don’t need to go for specialist baby cereals. They are quite a bit more expensive. There are some advantages though. The law around baby food is very strict so these cereals don’t have added salt, they don’t have added sugar (except fruit), and they have very low pesticide levels (even if they don’t say they are organic).
If you do look for specialist baby cereals, the ones which aren’t organic are actually better, in my opinion. Why? Because food companies can’t add vitamins and minerals (except B1) to organic foods. Other baby cereals can, and do. Like I said before, these added nutrients are helpful for little ones with their small tummies.
And if you don’t like cereal?
Toast is also okay! It’s important to get some protein into breakfast so dairy or nuts are good. Again we want to avoid sugar on our toast.
Good options for toast toppers are nut butters, seed butters or cream cheese. Just a word of caution – toast can be a choking hazard for little ones so keep an eye on them and only give it if you feel they can chew it properly.
It’s not that there aren’t other breakfast options, but sometimes we can forget about the basics.
Hopefully that has given you some quick and easy options. Happy breakfasting!