Whether your child is a small eater or a big eater, breakfast needs to be an energy boost to start the day off right! But finding the time to prepare a balanced breakfast is a challenge. Cereals, dairy products, fruit... what should be on the menu? Our specialists' advice.

What is the ideal breakfast for a child?

Sleep, it digs! When you sleep, you expend energy. And the more you sleep, the more likely you are to wake up hungry. If your child has eaten dinner around 7-8pm, at 7am it's as if he or she has fasted for half a day (12 hours)! It is therefore essential to recharge his batteries with this first meal of the day to limit the famous morning hunger pangs.

What is a balanced breakfast?

First of all, protein and fiber are especially important. This combination will help your child feel full and keep his or her blood sugar levels stable, so he or she can focus better and have more energy. These nutrients can be found in yogurt, nuts, eggs and low-fat cheeses. For fiber, you can rely on fruits, vegetables and whole grains like oatmeal.

The goal of a good breakfast: avoid foods high in sugar. If you need to sweeten a plain yogurt, for example, you can mix in fruit pieces instead of powdered sugar. Also be careful with fruit juices, which toddlers tend to consume without limits. Here are some tips for preparing a balanced breakfast:

  •     Bread or another cereal product (cereals, rusks, ...): it provides energy for a long time;

  •     Milk or a dairy product: a source of calcium and animal protein;

  •     Fresh fruit or fruit juice: a source of vitamins, minerals and fiber (no added sugar for industrial fruit juices!);

  •     Butter and jam.

What is the ideal breakfast for a 3 to 4 year old?

He is a big eater:

  •     A bowl of milk (with or without chocolate powder);

  •     1/6 of a baguette, or 2 slices of bread with butter or jam;

  •     A small fruit (the size of his closed fist) or half a fruit.

Small eater:

  •     A bowl of milk (+/- chocolate powder) or yogurt;

  •     Half a portion of cereal (20-25g).

What to do if ... ?

  •     Your toddler asks for his chocolate milk in a bottle: this is not recommended by orthodontists. At 3-4 years old, it is better to use a bowl, cup or glass. You can offer him a straw;

  •     He doesn't like milk: replace it with yoghurt, cottage cheese, one or two petits-suisses.

What is the ideal breakfast for a child aged 5 to 10?

He is a big eater:

  •     A bowl of milk (with or without chocolate powder);

  •     A quarter of a baguette, or 3 slices of bread with butter or jam;

  •     A piece of fruit.

Small eater:

  •     A bowl of milk (with or without chocolate powder) or 1 yogurt;

  •     A portion of cereals (30-40g). 

 What is the best breakfast for a teenager?

He's a big eater:

  •     A bowl of milk (with or without chocolate powder) or yogurt or a serving of cheese;

  •     A third of a baguette, or 4 slices of bread with butter or jam;

  •     A piece of fruit or a squeezed orange juice.

He is a small eater

  •     A bowl of milk (with or without chocolate powder) or 1 yogurt;

  •     A portion of cereal (50g);

  •     A piece of fruit or fruit juice.

Is a bowl of cereal a healthy breakfast?

Morning cereals are a bad choice. "The treatment they have undergone makes them very quickly absorbable by the body," says Laurence Haurat, nutritionist psychologist and author of the blog www.dietepense.fr. "In addition, they are not very satiating and contain too much sugar. And children never eat 30 g as recommended on the package but much more".

What if my child is not hungry in the morning?

What if he needs time to work up an appetite? If your child is still comatose when he wakes up and doesn't want to eat breakfast, "you can prepare and dress him before offering him breakfast because this will allow his body to wake up and his hunger to appear", advises Laurence Haurat.

You can also, if his appetite has not yet manifested itself at home, let him go to school with something easy to eat (compote, whole wheat cookies...). This can allow him to bridge the gap between hunger and the time to go to school.

What if he ate too much at dinner?

No more fries, pizza and gravy at night! Children may act out of mimicry and overeat because they watch their parents do it. But a heavy dinner can be the reason for a lack of appetite in the morning.

Try to rethink what's in your lunch. First of all, remember that if your child eats lunch at the school cafeteria, he or she is eating meat, so you don't have to offer it on the menu in the evening. Especially since proteins are more difficult to digest before going to sleep.

"Give preference to starchy foods, vegetables and a dairy product," advises Laurence Haurat. "And then a fruit. The fruit for the fiber and sugar, the pasta for the complex sugars, the vegetables for the volume they represent and the cheese, because it's good on pasta!".

After a few days of this type of dinner, the appetite should return in the morning.

What if he wanted something else?

"The child is quite ritualized in eating", explains Laurence Haurat. Like adults, they eat the same thing all the time and it all depends on what their parents put on the table at the beginning.

 "If he likes sweet things, offer him different jams with a slice of bread or a piece of chocolate. And if your child is rather salty, try cheese, eggs, a slice of ham...", advises Dr Patrick Serog, nutritionist. You can also find good simple things, like parmesan or semolina with milk.

So don't hesitate to offer him food that pleases him without falling into too much fat or too much sugar...

What if he's too stressed?

Anticipate, and make him eat anti-stress foods during meals.

"In the evening, eat starchy foods, at lunchtime, meat, especially pork, because it contains vitamin B1, a good stress reliever, and at 4 p.m., give him a piece of chocolate and dried fruit because they contain magnesium, which has anti-stress properties," says Laurence Haurat.

"It may be necessary, if it is a real stress, to take him to consult a pediatrician or a child psychiatrist because the stress may come from a trauma that has gone unnoticed," says the psychologist.

My child won't eat no matter what I do

If it takes your child at least two hours to swallow something, don't rush him. Don't force him to eat if he's not hungry. It is necessary to respect his rhythm. Some biological rhythms are not based on the "breakfast, lunch and dinner" model.

The solution to avoid hunger pangs in the middle of the morning is to prepare a breakfast that he can eat sitting down during a break on the way to school, or take to school for recess.

You should think of something practical to eat and interesting from a nutritional point of view, such as compotes in gourds, dried fruit, seeds, whole wheat cookies, a cereal bar, a piece of fruit, a fruit juice for the end of the morning break, a small piece of marzipan if the child likes it.

"It is also possible to make him a small sandwich with bread and jam or melted cheese," suggests Dr. Serog.

Tips for a successful breakfast

Ask your child's opinion

You're probably more likely to eat healthy foods when you can choose what you like. The same goes for your child. When toddlers are allowed to participate in meal preparation, they are likely to eat a more balanced diet. Ask your child what he or she would like to eat for breakfast and have them help you make a smoothie, or blend ingredients. Not only does this habit increase the likelihood that they will eat a healthy breakfast, but it also helps them develop lifelong healthy eating habits.

Make extra

If you have time on the weekend, cook and freeze different breakfast foods. Pancakes, pancakes or muffins can be reheated in minutes in the pan or microwave, and you can make a few bottles of smoothie to keep cool.

Plan the night before

If you have time, before you get ready for bed, set the table, measure out the dry ingredients, and lay out all the tools you need on your work surface. This way, you can just walk into your kitchen and immediately prepare what you need, saving a few precious minutes. The day before you can also prepare porridge, a mixture of nuts and dried fruits, or cut fresh fruits and vegetables into pieces.

Some ideas for varied breakfast menus

The classic breakfast

A balanced breakfast is composed of a dairy product, a fruit, slow sugars and a hot drink. Several variations are possible. Yogurt mixes very well with fresh fruit and cereals such as muesli or granola. You can save preparation time by washing the fruit in advance during the weekend and preparing the breakfast table the night before.

The quick breakfast

If the timing of the morning was not in your favor, opt for whole grain crackers like Wasa, a piece of cheese and a few grapes. Your kids can eat them on the bus or in the car without getting dirty, and you're giving them all the nutrients they need for a balanced breakfast.

The protein breakfast

If your child plays a lot of sports or prefers to eat salty foods in the morning, you can prepare eggs. The protein will help them feel full. A spinach, tomato and cheese omelette on a slice of wholemeal bread, for example, gives them all the energy they need for the day.