Research Says: Eat Breakfast!

Start the day with a nutritious breakfast: Doesn't that sound like something your grandmother might have said? It still holds true. A Minnesota study of school-age children found that when students ate breakfast, they had fewer discipline problems, fewer visits to the school nurse, and higher test scores than when they skipped the morning meal.

Breakfast Basics

After a long night of sleep, your child (and you) needs to "break the fast" with a healthy mix of foods. Offering a variety of foods, with an emphasis on whole-grain choices, helps ensure that children start the day with plenty of nutrients. Build a breakfast that includes three foods from three different food groups - such as grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, and Protein foods such as meat, beans, or nuts. Here are suggestions for nutritious - and delicious - breakfasts that are easy as 1-2-3!

1. Choose a WHOLE-GRAIN food, such as whole-wheat toast, honey-sweetened granola bar, or cereal to get fiber, B vitamins, and iron. Opt for cereals with at least 2 grams of fiber per serving. Serve sweetened cereals only occasionally. Use the Nutrition Facts label to check fiber and sugar content.

2. Choose a DAIRY food such as cheese, low-fat milk, or yogurt for calcium and protein. Soy milk fortified with calcium is also a good option.

3. Choose a FRUIT. Breakfast is a good time for serving fruits that are high in vitamin C, such as 100-percent orange juice and other citrus fruits or low-sugar juices, cantaloupe, strawberries, and kiwi. But any fresh, canned, or frozen fruit your child likes is a good choice!

Tips for Sunny Morning Meals... Even when you're in a rush!

With family members going in different directions, mornings are often hectic. Add to that young children who may be finicky eaters, and breakfast can become a battle of wills. Here are tips for making breakfast easier and more pleasant for you and your child.

Rise early enough so that your child is fully awake when sitting down to breakfast.

Offer healthful choices and let your child choose what and how much he wants to eat.

Opt for foods your child likes, not necessarily typical breakfast choices. Cold pizza, sliced lunchmeat, and soup are all fine for morning too.

Milk is an easy way to get important nutrients. Most experts agree that young children should have a high-calcium food at every meal.

Make a trail mix of low-sugar cereal and dried fruits for the ride to school. This may be a calmer time for your child, and a bag of nutritious nuggets can be very inviting.

Be a good role model and eat breakfast, even if it's a small one.

When Your Child Won't Eat Breakfast

Don't make a fuss. Just be sure to tell the teacher or day care provider that your child did not have breakfast. Your child will eat when she is ready.