reader question: “I’d love to rid my house of the sugary cereal, but they go on sale and we buy them in limited quantities. My struggle is some mornings I make oatmeal or malt-o-meal. My 3 year old son wants sugary cereal. I’d love him to have healthy, yummy oatmeal. Is the DOR the same for breakfast? I think he has a texture issue with the oatmeal. Maybe. Or it might just be he knows there’s a box of goodness in the cupboard. Of course I want him to eat breakfast or else he’s whining for a snack for the next 2 hours. Any experiences and/or suggestions?”
Here is Hydee’s (FFD’s awesome pediatric nutritionist) response on one way to handle sugary cereal.
From Hydee: “A child’s love of “sugar cereal” seems to drive most parents nuts. I can’t even count the number of times I have heard parents discussing strategies of how to serve or not to serve the stuff. One mom I know limits this breakfast entree to weekend mornings only. When her kids ask for it in the morning, she replies with “Is it the weekend?” If so, then they are allowed to eat as much as they want. This works out for her and her children. She is employing the division of responsibility in feeding. She decides what (pre-sweetened breakfast cereal), when (only on Saturday and Sunday mornings), and where (only in the kitchen at the table with the TV off). And the kids decide how much. When I hear this mom tell other moms about her tactic, the other moms squirm. They don’t seem to like that she lets them eat it twice a week and that she allows them to get their fill of it. What about their nutrition? Don’t they “crash” by 10:00 am?
So what about their nutrition? Well, for one, it’s highly fortified! That means many types are an excellent source of iron, a mineral most babies, toddlers and some preschoolers need more of. Also General Mills has been in the news lately for reducing the amount of added sugar and increasing the amount of whole grains. And do kids get overly hungry and cranky just a couple of hours after breakfast? Probably. That is why you might want to serve this type of cereal with a food high in protein and fiber. Perhaps offer yogurt or whole wheat toast with peanut butter. Will they eat the accompaniments? Maybe or maybe not. If not, plan on offering the planned, sit-down, mid-morning snack slightly earlier. At snack time, offer something that will fill in the nutritional gap left at breakfast like fresh fruit and cheese.
After your child knows he can enjoy this type of food occasionally and get enough to be satisfied, it will lose it’s novelty. In the meantime, relax and enjoy breakfast time together. ”