The word breakfast literally means ‘breaking the fast’ between the previous day’s dinner and the meal eaten next day (however clichéd it may sound). Breakfast has several health benefits and eating a healthy breakfast is imperative, especially for growing kids. Listed below are the benefits of a wholesome breakfast and also a few nutritious breakfast ideas for tiny tots.
Importance of a healthy breakfast
Breakfast should be considered the most essential meal of the day for your child for several reasons. It fuels him up for his daily activities, prevents starvation and also keeps him from overeating. Thus, it helps maintain a healthy body weight. A nutritious breakfast provides one-fourth to one-third of your child’s daily nutrition requirement. Children who eat breakfast exhibit improved academic performance, better cognitive functions, longer attention span, less absenteeism and decreased hyperactivity in school.
Tips to choose a healthy breakfast for your toddler:
It’s important for toddlers to have breakfast every day but what is more vital is what the breakfast is comprised of. A healthy breakfast essentially needs to have these three components:
1. Whole grains - The energy suppliers
Your toddler is growing. Whole grains contribute to the most important macronutrient, carbohydrates, especially the complex ones. Carbs provide your toddler with the much-needed energy to sustain their high activity levels. In the absence of breakfast, your child may become highly irritable, tired and restless because of the drop in blood glucose levels. Whole grains provide the vital vitamins and minerals that play a key role in your child’s overall growth and development. The fibre-packed whole grains also help prevent and ward off constipation in toddlers.
2. Good quality protein – The body builders
Good quality protein can be derived from foods of animal origin like milk and dairy products, fish and other sea foods, poultry especially chicken and eggs. However, even vegetarian sources of proteins like dals and sprouts can provide essential proteins when coupled with cereals. Soyabean is also an excellent protein source for vegetarians.
3. Fruits and/or vegetables – The micronutrient providers
Fresh fruits and vegetables are the key providers of vitamins and minerals like iron and calcium that are crucial for your child. Fruits and veggies also provide fibre. A toddler’s daily diet should provide 5 servings of fruits and vegetables. Adding a serving to the breakfast leaves out only four servings for the day.
List of easy-to-make Indian breakfast ideas for toddlers:
Young children generally complain of ‘not being hungry’ early in the morning. Hence, feeding your child a nutritious breakfast in the rush hours of morning may seem like a herculean task. Planning and preparing in advance becomes essential. Serving foods attractively can arouse your child’s interest in foods. Also, mothers need to remember that a toddler’s serving size is about one-fourth that of an adult. They should not force-feed their child to eat more. A few quick, easy-to-make Indian breakfast options are provided below.
1. The South-Indian delicacies: Dosa, uttapam, appam and idli - the best part is all these can be made from the same batter. A lot of variety indeed! This rice and urad dal (1:3) combination provides the essential proteins and carbohydrates. Calcium-rich ragi or nachni also makes a healthy breakfast option. Ragi dosa or uttapam can be provided occasionally.
2. The health-packed parathas: Whole wheat parathas made with healthy vegetable stuffing of your child’s choice can serve as a quick breakfast option. Serve it warm with ghee and you’ll find them relishing it without knowing which vegetable has gone in! For providing variety, you can add a single vegetable to make a paratha like carrot paratha or add multiple veggies like in a mix-veg paratha. You can supplement it with proteins from your child’s favourite cheese, paneer, tofu, etc. Sprouts can also be stuffed in the parathas. Boiled moong dal or moong dal atta can be added to the wheat flour while binding. Serving the paratha with a glass of milk or curd takes care of the required proteins.
To know all about the nutrition requirements for 0-5-year-olds, click here.
3. The on-the-go sandwiches: Sandwich is generally a toddler’s favourite breakfast. Young children can be served open sandwiches presented on one whole wheat bread slice. The wide variety of vegetables that can be incorporated in a sandwich makes it a mother’s favourite recipe too! Non-veg proteins can be easily sneaked in the sandwich in the form of shredded chicken, egg bhurji, omelette or fish sandwich. Vegetarians can resort to dairy products like cheese and paneer to make it healthier. Fruits can also be added to sandwiches too.
4. The yummy pancakes: Pancake, commonly referred in India as ghavan, dhirde or cheela can be made with whole-wheat or rice flour, dal flours or a combination of these, egg, milk and several other ingredients.
Hope these ideas help you plan a variety of breakfasts for your toddler. Let us know if you prepare any other healthy breakfast variant which your toddler!
The author is a nutritionist and Founder of Nutrify