Making breakfasts for little ones can get soooooo repetitive, so quickly. I can only imagine how that will feel in a few years! Full disclosure: while I certainly put thought into the meal planning portion of breakfasts, the execution is all Richie on weekday mornings.
I’ve definitely been “learning as you go” when it comes to feeding children – it seems there are lots of ideals (the guidelines I learned about while getting my Nutrition degree) and then there are the realities of life and toddlers. There is some overlap, but they are definitely not mutually exclusive.
My approach when it comes to feeding kids – though I should mention that it’s my approach NOW because I know it will probably change – is to blend a few methods:
Ellyn Satter Institute: Satter is a registered dietitian and family therapist that I’ve followed for years, whose mission is to “help adults and children be joyful and confident with eating.” What I like about her method is that the parent/caretaker role is responsible for the what, when, where aspect of the meal and the child is responsible for the how much and whether to eat the foods offered. She is a BIG proponent of eating together as a family, which you all know is something I’m working towards. If meal times are a struggle, definitely check out her information!
I’ve noticed that as Demi becomes more outspoken in her desires, it’s nice to have a framework to refer to when she’s crying for snacks at 7am. (This is a work in progress for me to not give in to screams, but it’s easier for me to resist when I remember that I’m in charge of when and what. I do also let her help decide what the meal will be: toast or waffle?)
One-Bite Rule: this goes against Satter’s method a bit, but it’s important to me that Demi try different foods. Most of the time she is pretty good about trying all of the foods on her plate, but there are times that if she wants more of something (pasta), she’ll have to eat a few bites of something else (vegetable).
Balanced Plate: Demi doesn’t eat perfectly by any stretch (and I don’t believe anyone should strive for perfection when it comes to eating!) but when we’re eating meals at home, particularly lunch or dinner, there is always a vegetable (or a few) on her plate. She doesn’t always eat them all, and sometimes she only takes a bite before saying “don’t like it” but it’s important to keep trying. And remember, it can take 15-20 EXCRUCIATING introductions to food before toddlers might be open to it. This is also where modeling can come in really handy, and one of the main reasons I need to get us to family dinners so that we’re all eating the same foods. She’s definitely more interested in trying and eating vegetables if we’re eating them too.
Here’s the general framework I use for a balanced plate:
- Breakfasts: whole-grain + protein (egg, peanut butter, yogurt) + fruit + milk
- Lunch/Dinner: grain/starch (preferably whole-grain) + protein + vegetable + milk (if requested)
Let’s get to the meals!
waffle and peanut butter + banana slices + milk (optional: drizzle of pure maple syrup, chia seeds)
scrambled egg + toast sticks + orange segments
oatmeal + yogurt + pear slices + chia seeds
sprouted cinnamon raisin toast + cream cheese + apple slices + milk
cereal + berries + milk (daycare serves the milk and cereal separately which I think is quite smart!)
Tip: if you have leftover fruit from breakfast, throw it in a freezer bag and freeze for smoothies – you can keep adding to the bag with whatever fruit you have.
Any favorite breakfasts that are a staple in your house?