How do I get my child to eat breakfast?
My 6 year old Ned is NOT a breakfast eater. He will do everything and anything to avoid eating before school. If he had his way, he’d wait until at least 9 or 10am before a morsel would reach his mouth. His dad is much the same, unlike Jack and I, who must eat within 10 minutes of rising. I can’t wait. I literally can’t, or I am attacked by waves of nausea and my day is stuffed.
But the thing is, on school days, Ned has to eat something before school otherwise he’ll have to wait until at least 10.30 or 11am and by that time, he’ll be so hungry he might start getting grumpy. That just won’t do. So I have learned to make compromises- half a banana, a glass of milk, one of those squeezy fun yoghurts, or a boiled egg.
But in the past few weeks, I’ve been hearing or coming across a bundle of ideas, ‘gold drops‘ as I call them, so I figured you might like them too. Perhaps you have a child like mine, and face the same kind of issue. Or maybe, you might tuck these up your sleeve for later… You just never know what might be around the corner when you are a mama!
7 Tips for “How do I get my child to eat breakfast?”
1. Treat ourselves like royalty.
Last week, I sat in on a talk (more about that later…) and one thing that continues to resonate with me was the idea of ‘treating ourselves like royalty’. The speaker, Lou Harvey-Zahra, was chatting about the importance of preparation when it comes to the young child. She shared a little story about how much she enjoys waking up in a bed and breakfast, simply because of how cared for she feels when she comes down the stairs into a ‘dining room’ to find a place set just for her, even if it is only a bowl, a little jug of milk, a spoon and a box of cereal all laid out. I know that feeling from my days of travelling with my mum in England years ago, and I too relish that big exuberant expression of morning-greeting ‘care’. Imagine if we were to do the same thing for our children each morning? I write more than a bit about this in my book, the idea of table presentation and preparation at mealtimes, but it was a good reminder. Think I might reintroduce this idea at home for Ned and Jack again too. A pot of flowers, a personalised placemat (think we might make new ones this weekend!) and all the thingamajigs one might use at breakfast time. Will let you know how we go.
2. Breakfast pizza.
Who is to say that pizza only has to be for dinner? If you ask Ned what his favourite meal is, he will ALWAYS answer pizza. So I took pizza and threw it up in the air with a wild spin, and let it land at the other end of our day. Breakfast pizza. Yum. We’ve made breakfast muffin pizzas using traditional ingredients such as ham, tomato, capsicum, corn, and cheese, but we’ve also done sweet versions too. Strawberry and cream cheese, banana and honey with ricotta, and that yummy Blessed and Lucky Cinnamon Nut Butter with banana and a drizzle of passionfruit (Ned’s fave fruit) too. Think the next thing might be to actually make them on proper pizza dough. (It takes me about a minute to whip up a batch in the thermomix. Got to love that machine.)
3. Hot toasty breakfast jaffles
Taking a cue from the breakfast pizza idea, we’ve also been making hot toasty ‘jaffles’ (toasted sandwiches) for breakfasts too on these cooler mornings. I’ve used up leftover chicken with cheese, and we’ve also tried baked beans with cheese, tuna, mayo and cheese, and one weekend morning a few weeks back, we made one with some of the Easter chocolate melted inside with banana slices. Oh my! A sneaky but absolutely out-of-this-world breakfast treat. I love that if I wrap these up straight away in tin foil, they stay warm and can be ‘breakfast-on-the-go’ on busy mornings, or go into the lunchbox for a warming nourishment for an early lunch.
4. Breakfast vitamin smoothies
Lately, we’ve been having a win with a ‘breakfast smoothie’. A few weeks ago, I was introduced to Brauer’s new Vitashake.
In both chocolate and strawberry flavour, all you do is add two teaspoons of the Vitashake smoothie syrup to the child’s favourite cup of milk and wham bam, Ned has had his daily multivitamin too, and he doesn’t even know it! It really does taste good too. I can vouch as I’ve had more than my share of taste tests, and these ‘flavoured milks’ are made without any sugar, artificial colours or flavours either. That is a much better option than our Saturday morning choc milk treat when I collect the weekend paper. I use cow’s milk but it can go in rice milk, soy milk, or almond milk too. Ned’s been having his smoothie each morning in a glass mason jar that comes complete with a handle and built-in straw and I think this only adds to the fun. THIS ‘treat’ is literally making him jump out of bed! And he can have it every single day without any kind of naughty-mama guilt involved. You and your kids might like this too, especially with the winter bugs just lurking around the corner…
5. Banana on a stick
I don’t know what it is about bananas on a stick but it works. I simply cut a juicy banana in half and push each half onto a popsicle stick. If I’m feeling creative, I might dip it in yoghurt and roll it in coconut. But more often than not, it is simply banana. I’ve just bought a whole bunch of bananas today and I’m going to do the same thing but freeze them. Banana pops. Bet they are popular too.
6. Fruit salad and fruity skewers
I have a wonderful tupperware container that is round with compartments inside. I use it everyday when I go to work to prepare Jack’s food for the day for his carer. But on weekends and other days, I often fill it with pear slices, apple wedges, watermelon cubes, sultanas, grapes, banana pieces etc and let Ned make his own fruit skewers. Or I let him pick and choose a selection which he puts into his own fruit salad bowl with a drizzle of honey or yoghurt. I think it is more than the fact that fruit is quick to eat and digest that entices him. There is definitely something in that ‘measure of care’ a child sees when mama or daddy takes the time to cut the fruit into inviting shapes or pieces and present it imaginatively. It’s back to the ‘treat ourselves like royalty’ thing. It is love on a skewer stick. Love made visible.
7. Breakfast picnics.
Nothing like doing something a little out-of-the-ordinary on an ordinary day to encourage fussy eaters. This is on my to-do list for later this week. I’m planning on getting up just a little earlier so Ned, Jack and I can eat breakfast on the trampoline. It might just be toast and tea on offer, but I guarantee that the FUN of this adventure will have these boys eating and drinking their breakfast like champions. And we’re making memories too. That’s the best kind of parenting tip I know.
When it comes to the Breakfast Eating Adventure, what has worked best for you?
Disclosure: Brauer Australia gave me a bottle of Strawberry and a bottle of Chocolate Vitashake to taste test. I’ve chosen to include our review here as it is one of our ‘how to get my child to eat breakfast’ tricks of late. Ned really, really, really loves it. If he didn’t, I wouldn’t be including it here. Truth, beauty, goodness- it’s my motto!