Breakfast is an important meal for many reasons:
- It is difficult to have sufficient nutrients in a day without the nutritional contribution of breakfast.
- Missing breakfast leads to hunger later, and often less nutritious snack foods are eaten because they are available at the time.
- Establishing a routine for young children that involves eating a healthy breakfast lays the foundation for a pattern in later life.
- Children who do not eat breakfast are more likely to be overweight or obese.
Children will find it harder to manage their own behaviour and enjoy their day if they start off hungry.
There are many reasons why children may occasionally arrive without having had breakfast. If a child arrives regularly without breakfast, it is important to discuss this with the child’s parents. Often parents who do not themselves have breakfast may not see it as being important for their child. Talk with the parents about the benefits of breakfast and the contribution it makes to a child’s wellbeing. If a number of children arrive frequently without breakfast, and food supply at home seems to be the problem, consider offering breakfast on a routine basis.
Breakfast does not need to be costly or time-consuming; rather, it can be simple, nutritious and easy. It can be as simple as wholegrain cereal, milk and fruit – a perfect meal in a bowl, and ingredients that are easy to keep on hand. This great meal provides protein, calcium, iron and vitamins.
When a setting offers breakfast daily, varying the menu occasionally adds interest. Healthy and easy alternatives to cereal include:
- porridge with fresh or canned fruit and a glass of milk
- yoghurt and fruit or a fruit smoothie
- toast or a crumpet with cheese and slices of fruit
- pikelets topped with ricotta or yoghurt and fruit.