The Benefits of Eating Breakfast with your Fussy Eater Child
Here we will think about the benefits of eating breakfast with your Fussy Eater child. Children we work with at Magnificent Munchers are often very anxious at meal times. They tend to eat the same meals as these feel safe to them. The foods they eat are predictable and they are confident on how to eat them. Many of the children eat dry cereal or toast for breakfast. Our aim at Magnificent Munchers is to reduce anxiety and increase the child’s food range. One of the first actions I ask parents to take at home is to eat with their child as much as possible as this will provide many benefits. Often with busy life styles, working patterns and after school activities it is difficult to find the time for family meal times. I find breakfast is often a meal parents don’t automatically think of sharing with their child.
There are many benefits of eating breakfast with your fussy eater child:
- A way to expose your child to new foods
- An opportunity to model good eating habits
- A time to teach children about food smells
- A time to teach children about the textures of different foods
- A time to “pause” and think about the day ahead
I find that people often forget about breakfast being a time for shared eating. Time is tight on weekday mornings as families have limited time to get ready for the day but with some simple planning you can have a shared breakfast. By making time to share breakfast you will be providing opportunities for learning about food. It also gives family members the chance to take some family time “and breath” before the day ahead.
I am a working mum and my two children never went to the same school. I know what it is like to have a tight schedule in the mornings. I found on the days I was organised and had breakfast with the children the day often had a calmer start.
Breakfast Ideas for Fussy Eaters
Most of the fussy eaters I work with will eat the same foods at each meal. It will take time to work on extending the child’s food range. They will need to continue to have their preferred food on offer at meal times. Exposing your child to new foods is the first step.The key is for other family members to model eating a variety of breakfast foods rather than the same one each day. Think about food as food rather than you should eat a specific food at a specific meal time. We tend to categorise foods into breakfast, lunch and dinner foods. You can mix it up a bit after all there is no food Police!
If you have a extreme picky eater or anxious eater then they are unlikely to change their eating habits straight away just by being offered a new food. You can minimise food wastage by thinking creatively about food storage. Think about breakfast the night before and plan what you are going to eat. Storing food to make it accessible and minimise washing up will save you time and enable you to have some shared breakfast times.
Top time saving tips for breakfast
- Put hot food in the oven to cook whilst you have a shower. Use a kitchen timer.
- De camp cereal into clear boxes so your child can see what is inside and doesn’t become dependent on brands. These can be grabbed quickly and put in the centre of the table offering a variety of cereal choices.
- Buy large pots of yoghurt which can be placed in the centre of the table for everyone to help themselves.
- Keep punnets of berries in the fridge so they can be whipped out quickly and placed on the table. Place a fruit bowl on the kitchen table.
- Keep a variety of crackers in a tin so they can be placed on the table easily and cleared away quickly.
- Cut some cheese slices/chunks and keep them in a Tupperware pot in the fridge again no clearing up needed.
- Use tinned and dried fruits as part of a breakfast addition. Tinned fruit can be drained and stored in the fridge.
- Keep slices of cold meat on a plate covered in the fridge. They can be placed on the table quickly and recovered when finished.
- Put out a variety of spreads including cream cheese, peanut butter and marmite.
- Keep hard boiled eggs and a bag of fresh washed spinach in the fridge.
I grew up in a boarding school so communal breakfast was compulsory. I think that is where I developed my taste for a variety of breakfast foods. Some of my favourites still are:
- Fish fingers sandwiches
- Tin grapefruit served alongside Ryvita spread with cream cheese.
- Sausage sandwiches
- Eggy bread with tin tomatoes
- Egg Sandwiches
- Overnight oats
- Yoghurt with fruit and nuts.
- Cold meats, cheese and bread
The desire for different breakfast foods has continued in my family. My son’s favourite breakfasts for a while when he was at primary school were macaroni cheese, spaghetti hoops or beans on toast. The macaroni cheese was left over from dinner. The other hot items were zapped in the microwave and bread popped in the toaster. It only takes a few minutes. Another favourite he still has is left over fruit crumble!
The above are only examples of some possible combinations. Your fussy eater can learn about these types of foods when presented on the table as separate items. They can begin to open their minds to change and options. None of the above items takes long to prepare and any cooking can be done in the oven whilst you get ready. Be creative and have fun at breakfast!