Breakfast time is often a rushed affair for a lot of households – especially when kids are involved and parents need to be getting them up, ready and out of the door pronto so they can get to work.
But it can sometimes leave parents wondering whether they’re really giving their kids the best start to the day – especially if they give them a bowl of cereal.
She explained how her husband would send their children, aged three and six, to school or the childminder on a bowl of Rice Krispies and a bit of fruit.
But the mum added she feels “very strongly” about filling kids’ tummies properly before school – and while she has no problem with a bowl of Rice Krispies now and then, she believes “children need something more nutritionally dense”.
The crux of the issue was that she’d had a bust up with her husband about it – with her other half getting angry and saying she was “undermining him.”
She asked fellow parents to share their thoughts on whether a bowl of cereal and a bit of fruit were enough to keep a child’s energy levels up all morning. And people were passionate.
There were over 800 comments in response – with a strong divide between those who are pro-cereal and don’t see anything wrong with it, and those who don’t think it’s particularly nutritious to have every day.
“It’s literal cereal?” wrote one mum in response. “That is more than adequate. Agree with your husband. What do you want them to eat?” added another.
Shots were also fired. “Imagine getting up in the morning, giving your kids actual breakfast cereal and fruit and then your partner comes along moaning about it. What a life,” said one.
Others weren’t so sure, however. “I agree with you,” wrote one parent. “Like 99% of kids breakfast cereals it’s heavily processed carbs with added sugar on top. It’s ok as a treat but not a good habit for children to take, and they’ll be hungry an hour later.”
“I wouldn’t have it as an option,” added another parent. “Too sugary, so it’s bad for their teeth, apart from not being very filing. Porridge, fruit, yoghurt, muesli, crumpets etc are the options here.”
There were also those who sat somewhere in the middle. As one parent put it: “It’s probably not optimal, but it’s OK.”
So what does an expert think? Baby and child nutritionist Charlotte Stirling-Reed tells HuffPost UK: “I think it’s always a good idea to vary a child’s breakfast.”
Cereals are often fortified with nutrients so do add some goodness to a child’s morning, she explains, plus they’re quick and convenient.
However variety is key in little ones’ diets and varying breakfasts means they won’t get “breakfast fatigue,” where they end up refusing the one familiar breakfast they usually accept.
“It’s good to vary what’s on offer so you can get them used to different foods and offer up a variety of different nutrients in the mornings,” she adds.
Of course, a lot of parents simply don’t have the time to prepare varied breakfasts, in which case cereal won’t hurt.
Rolled oats, Weetabix, Shredded Wheat and Ready Brek are considered pretty low in sugar, according to an analysis on her website, while Rice Krispies, Cheerios, Shreddies and Corn Flakes are considered medium in sugar.
You can also give cereal a boost by adding milk, yoghurt, fruit, milled seeds or nut butter on top, says the nutritionist.
If you’re wondering how to switch up your child’s breakfast throughout the week, you could try porridge topped with fruit or grated carrot, scrambled eggs and beans on toast, toast and toppings (like nut butter or avocado), or yoghurt and fruit. Find more ideas here.