Sending your child back to school on the right foot starts with a healthy breakfast.
The American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that 8 to 12 percent of school-age children and 20 to 30 percent of teens skip breakfast, the most important meal of the day. When kids begin their day with empty stomachs, both school performance and health suffer.
“Families who skip breakfast tend to have increased hunger and snacking throughout the day trying to make up for the calories missed at breakfast,” says Tara Todd, RD, LD, registered pediatric dietitian at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “Kids who are focused on hunger are also not going to do as well in class.”
Whole-wheat waffles, an English muffin with peanut butter, fruit, yogurt or premade smoothies are all healthy, convenient options for families on the go. A glass of milk also provides much-needed calcium, vitamin D and protein, making it especially beneficial for kids who just aren’t hungry in the morning.
“Breakfast doesn’t need to be a four-course meal,” Todd says. “But it is an opportunity to emphasize foods typically lacking from children’s diets, including whole grains, fruit and milk. Parents should try to incorporate those foods into their child’s morning meal.”