Last month I wrote about preparing nutritious toddler dinners after a long and busy workday. At the other end of the spectrum, a healthy breakfast is just as important. But again, if you’re a working parent like me, you need to find something quick and easy before you dash out the door. Here are some (toddler-approved) ideas that can be prepared in minutes and combined to form a wholesome breakfast:
Protein. Frozen fully-cooked turkey or veggie sausage patties are both good options. They can be heated in the microwave in about 45 seconds and cut up into toddler-sized bites. (Note: Some of the veggie sausage I’ve tried is truly terrible. However, Morningstar Farms makes a sausage patty that both my son and I find quite delicious.) A sliced, hardboiled egg is another good source of protein. Simply boil a few on Sunday night to grab and go on weekday mornings. (Hardboiled eggs will keep for up to one week in the refrigerator.)
Whole grains. The key here is to look for sources of whole grains that contain at least three grams of fiber and fewer than six grams of sugar per serving. Some quick and easy options include whole wheat frozen waffles (such as Kellogg’s Eggo Nutri-Grain Whole Wheat waffles), whole grain English muffins (such as Thomas’ Light Multi-Grain English muffins), and instant oatmeal. (It might be difficult to find flavored instant oatmeal that meets the sugar requirement. If so, just buy the plain packets and stir in some fruit to add sweetness.)
Dairy. For breakfast, yogurt and milk are good options. Check with your pediatrician to see what type of milk your toddler should be drinking. For example, once my son turned two, our pediatrician recommended that we switch from whole to skim milk. With regards to yogurt, look for low-fat plain Greek yogurt (flavored yogurt usually has way too much added sugar) and sweeten with fruit or a bit of honey.
Fruit. Fruit is great on its own or mixed with hot cereal or yogurt to add sweetness. Berries are always a good option because they provide additional fiber. Go for fresh when they’re in season and frozen when they’re not. Another fresh option for the fruit-barren winter months are clementine/mandarin oranges (marketed in the U.S. as Halos or Cuties).
Choose one option from each of the categories above and you can be sure your toddler starts the day with enough fuel to get him or her through a busy morning.
Jennifer Eckert is a supervising editor at National Geographic Learning and a freelance writer. She lives in Chicago with her husband, son, and three cats.