How to Make a Healthy Breakfast for Picky Eaters
It can be challenging to come up with a healthy breakfast for picky eaters. With so little to choose from, you may feel frustrated trying to throw something together as you attempt to get out of the house in a timely manner.
Before you have another breakfast battle, the first thing you need to remember is the importance of sticking to a schedule, says Rachel Rothman, pediatric dietitian: “Children thrive on predictability and routine … When you set times for your children so they know when food will be available, you help create a routine throughout the day, and maximize their hunger and satiety.”
Providing breakfast around the same time every morning, as often as possible, is a great way to start getting your picky eater to eat. The next step is finding foods that your child will eat, but that also provide enough nutrition and sustenance to last through until lunch. Here are a few ideas to do exactly that.
Try Breakfast Finger Foods
Your picky eater isn’t interested in eating. He or she wants to play, especially with the food that’s sitting on the table. To get your little one to get that morning fuel, you may need to “disguise” it as finger food. The good news is, this is easy to do with breakfast—even toast is a finger food, and is also quick and easy to make.
If you want to spice it up, try something fun like Rainbow Fruit Skewers, filled with all their favorite fruits.
Use Oatmeal as a Base
Oatmeal is healthy on its own, but add nut butter, fruit, and healthy fats, and you have a filling meal that will keep your child satiated until lunch. If you have trouble getting your picky eater to eat enough calories, this may be a go-to option for you. Not only is oatmeal filling, but simply adding healthy fat like nut butter or coconut shreds will give your child the extra calories he or she needs.
You can also play with a wide range of flavors with oatmeal as the base. Try maple syrup or honey, cinnamon and sugar, or mix in peanut butter and their favorite jam for a peanut butter and jelly breakfast.
Blend Up a Morning Smoothies for Kids
Go the smoothie route! Smoothies are the perfect food for picky eaters who won’t eat their veggies. While adding in greens like spinach or kale makes the vegetable component obvious, sweet potato, pumpkin or cauliflower are less obvious choices that are also a neutral color. In addition to veggies, the two key ingredients for any breakfast smoothie are protein and fat. Fat helps them feel full longer, since it takes longer to digest.
Protein is just as important, as a major building block in the body. It aids in muscle, organ and skin growth, while helping maintain fluid and acid-base balance and repairing cells. Learn more in our blog post, How Much Protein Do Kids Need?
The easiest way to boost your child’s smoothie protein content is with one serving of Healthy Height Shake Mix, which is packed with 12 grams of protein, plus vitamin D, C and A, and much more. Choose from vanilla or chocolate and blend it into your child’s smoothie alongside fruit, veggies and your healthy fat of choice, like nut butter, coconut, or yogurt.
If you need some ideas to get started, check out some of our favorite smoothie recipes:
- Veggie Loaded Cinnamon Vanilla Smoothie
- Protein-Powered Strawberry Vanilla Smoothie
- 10 Easy Smoothie Recipes for Busy Parents
- Peanut Butter Banana and Chocolate Smoothie
Make Healthy Breakfast Muffins for Kids
Muffins are another way to boost your child’s nutrition intake without them knowing. Plus, it comes in a finger-food format, so your picky eater may be more likely to dig in without hesitation. What’s more, you can make a batch of muffins on Sunday and heat one up for breakfast every morning for a quick and healthy breakfast option.
Check out a few healthy muffin recipes to try this week:
- Gluten Free Banana Muffins
- Chocolate Protein Muffins
- Oatmeal Apple and Cinnamon Muffins
- Chocolate Cashew Butter Zucchini Muffins
Build Your Own Yogurt
Yogurt is a healthy base when putting together a healthy breakfast for your picky eater—and turning it into a “build your own” meal does two things: allows your child to play with the food as they sprinkle in fruit and nuts while also taking some work off your plate so you can focus on making lunch or getting ready.
This also allows you to introduce new foods alongside familiar ones. Rothman explains, “My rule of thumb is to offer 75 percent preferred food and 25 percent non-preferred food at most meals and snacks. Children may become fearful when presented with new or non-preferred foods, so include these new items with foods they already like to minimize that fear and maximize the chances of them trying it the new food.”
Put out a few small bowls with topping options and let your little one pick and choose what he or she wants to put on the yogurt.
Healthy Breakfast Ideas Before School
There are many options to make a healthy breakfast for your picky eater, so mix and match until you find the secret combo that gets him or her eating every morning. Use these ideas to add some fresh options into the rotation and ensure your little one heads to school with all the nutrition he or she needs.