The Essential Morning Meal
Some kids can't stomach the idea of breakfast. But eating a morning meal gives your child essential vitamins and minerals, and replenishes blood sugar -- the brain's main source of fuel -- which dips after a night of fasting. Studies show that breakfast eaters do better in school and aren't as easily distracted, fidgety, or irritable.
TIMING IS KEY
If your child hates to eat first thing in the morning, give his tummy time to wake up. Let preschoolers play for half an hour or more to work up an appetite. If your child has somewhere to go -- like school or daycare -- consider setting the alarm clock at least 20 minutes earlier. (This also builds in time to allow the whole family to enjoy the meal.) "You'll have a better chance of getting him to eat breakfast if you sit down and eat with him," says Althea Zanecosky, R.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. "And younger kids may be more apt to eat the meal if you let them help prepare it, even if it just means pouring the cereal in the bowl."
Other ways to turn kids on to a morning meal: Make it fun, or offer non-breakfast foods. Create a pancake pizza with peanut butter and banana slices on top. Or offer last night's pasta, pizza, or a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich. If a school-age child still won't take the bait, send him on his way with a portable breakfast -- such as cheese and crackers and a banana, a cup of yogurt, or a muffin and some trail mix -- that he can eat before class or at recess.
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