20 Healthy Breakfast Ideas for Kids - Baby Chick
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20 Healthy Breakfast Ideas for Kids

Discover healthy breakfast ideas for kids, from simple breakfast quesadillas and fruit smoothies to granola bars and waffle paninis.

Published April 18, 2023

by Dr. Nicole Avena, Ph. D.

Associate Professor of Neuroscience
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You may have heard the phrase, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” but do you know why? The word breakfast means to break a fast, and choosing foods to refuel the body and get your day off to a great start is essential. For your little one, it is their nutritional foundation for the day. Healthy breakfast ideas for kids can improve their energy levels, help them maintain weight and grow at a healthy rate, enhance their mood, and even improve their concentration. So, what does a healthy breakfast look like? A balanced breakfast should include three macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats.1,2

What Does a Balanced Breakfast Have?

Carbohydrates for Energy

Despite their bad reputation, carbohydrates are the brain’s primary fuel source. During digestion, carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars that the muscle cells, brain cells, and nearly the entire body uses for energy. Since children are growing at a rapid rate and have seemingly endless energy, carbohydrates are a great fuel source to include at the start of the day in healthy breakfast ideas for kids.3

Protein to Build Muscles and Help Them Feel Full

Protein is a building block of our bodies, and this macronutrient should be essential to breakfast. Eating enough protein is necessary to help your little one build strong muscles, balance blood sugar, regulate appetite, and increase satiety (feeling full and satisfied) after a meal. However, it’s important not to overdo it, as too much protein can stress the liver and kidneys. Protein needs for children differ by age:4,5

  • 4-9 years old need 19 grams of protein per day
  • 9-13 years old need about 34 grams per day
  • 14-18 vary by gender, but boys need 52 grams, and girls need 46 grams

Healthy Fats to Help Their Brains

Healthy fats are the final macronutrient that is an excellent addition to healthy breakfast ideas for kids. Though these should be a small portion of your child’s breakfast, healthy fats can be essential to brain development and aid in nutrient absorption. Specifically, dietary fats help the body absorb certain fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, E, and K. Examples of healthy fats for your child’s breakfast include peanut butter, an egg cooked in avocado oil, grass-fed butter, nuts, and seeds.6

Now that you know the three main components of balanced healthy breakfast ideas for kids, let’s get into some recipe ideas to try out for your little one’s most important meal of the day.

20 Healthy Breakfast Ideas for Kids

1. Whole Grain Pancakes with Fruit

Pink kid's plate with pancakes and fruit.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¾ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup milk (dairy or non-dairy)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Get the Recipe Here

2. Apricot Oat Squares

The first of our healthy breakfast ideas for kids, dried apricots are a sweet and tasty source of vitamin B1, iron, fiber, and potassium.7

For the crust:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ⅔ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving a little overhang.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat butter and brown sugar together until smooth.
  3. In a small bowl, mix flour, oats, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until combined. Divide the dough in half, and pat one half evenly into the baking pan.
  5. Wrap the other half of the dough in plastic and place in the refrigerator to chill until firm (up to 24 hours).

For the filling:

  • ½ cup water, more as needed
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 8 oz dried apricot halves, roughly chopped
  • ½ tsp vanilla

Directions:

  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine water, sugar, salt, and lemon juice and stir until sugar is dissolved and the mixture comes to a boil.
  2. Add apricots and vanilla and remove from the heat. Cover and let cool for about 30 minutes or until room temperature.
  3. Puree the mixture in a food processor until smooth.
  4. Add additional water (1 tablespoon at a time) if needed to make a thick, smooth paste.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Spread the cooled apricot mixture evenly over the dough in the pan.
  7. Place a sheet of wax paper on your work surface and dust it with flour. Pat the remaining dough into an 8-inch square about ¼ inch thick. Use wax paper to transfer the dough to the pan and place it dough-side down over the apricot mixture.
  8. Remove the wax paper.
  9. Bake until golden brown on top (20-25 minutes) and let cool completely. Cut into squares.
  10. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.

3. Breakfast Granola Bars

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup peanut butter (or sunflower butter)
  • ¼ cup milk (dairy or non-dairy)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ⅔ cup all-fruit jam
Get the Recipe Here

4. Oatmeal Applesauce Muffins

These are like apple-cinnamon oatmeal baked into a hearty handheld breakfast or snack. Your kid gets added potassium from the applesauce and oats in this healthy breakfast idea.7

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups whole-wheat flour
  • ¾ cup rolled oats
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup applesauce (opt for the no-added-sugar variety)
  • ⅔ cup packed dark or light brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup olive or canola oil
  • 1 egg

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
  4. In a large bowl, combine applesauce, brown sugar, olive oil, and egg until blended.
  5. Stir in the flour mixture until mostly combined — do not over-mix.
  6. Divide batter into the muffin tins.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Cool for five minutes.
  8. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a day, and freeze for up to one month.

5. Mini Avocado Toast on Whole Grain Bread

Avocado toast with sliced boiled egg on top. They are on a hot pink kid's plate

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup mashed avocado
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 slice whole grain bread, toasted
  • Optional: sliced boiled egg

Directions:

  1. Place a piece of bread in the toaster until desired.
  2. In a bowl, smash the avocado with a pinch of salt and lemon juice if you choose.
  3. Top your toast with mashed avocado, and slice up a boiled egg on top if you’d like.

6. Almond Butter and Raspberry Jam Pinwheels

Almond butter has a nice amount of manganese for your baby’s brain health.7,8

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole wheat tortilla
  • 2 tbsp almond butter
  • 1 ½ to 2 tbsp low- or no-sugar raspberry preserves

Directions:

  1. Spread almond butter and jam on the tortilla and roll tightly.
  2. Slice into 1-inch rounds and serve.

7. Egg and Cheese Mini Muffin

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp onion, peeled and grated (or ¼ teaspoon onion powder)
  • ½ cup butternut squash, finely grated (or leftover diced roasted squash, minced broccoli, grated carrot, or minced spinach)
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • ½ cup cottage cheese (drained if needed)
  • ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
Get the Recipe Here

8. Waffle Panini with Cream Cheese and Fruit Preserves

Your little one won’t know it, but this dish is a great source of vitamin K, thanks to the bread and butter.7

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ tbsp softened cream cheese
  • Two pieces of 2 ½ inch-thick slices of soft bread, such as challah
  • 1 ½ tbsp low- or no-sugar-added fruit jam
  • Butter for grilling

Directions:

  1. Heat the waffle iron.
  2. Spread cream cheese on one slice of bread and jam on the other slice.
  3. Close the sandwich and lightly butter the outside, then place in the waffle iron to crisp up.
  4. Cook for about 3-4 minutes or until golden brown.
  5. Let cool completely and cut the sandwich into strips for your toddler to enjoy.

9. Low-Sugar Cereal with Milk or Yogurt

Pink kid's bowl filled with cheerios and milk with a yellow spoon sticking out.

Look for cereal options with a few grams of fiber, protein per serving, and little added sugar. Pair with milk or yogurt for additional protein and healthy fats. Aim for about ¼ cup of cereal paired with ⅓ cup of milk or yogurt.

10. Eggs, Fruit, and a Whole Grain Carbohydrate

A boiled or scrambled egg, steel-cut oatmeal, with an orange or blueberries.

11. Blueberry Coconut Baked Oatmeal

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 5 oz can coconut milk
  • ⅓ cup honey (warmed slightly)
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup steel-cut oats
  • ¼ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup blueberries
Get the Recipe Here

12. Sweet Potato ‘Toast’ with Almond Butter

Ingredients:

  • ½ baked sweet potato, sliced in rounds
  • 2 tbsp almond butter
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • Drizzle of honey

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Use a fork to poke holes in the sweet potato and set rounds on a baking sheet. Bake for 40-50 minutes (can do the night ahead).
  3. When done baking, slice in half and top with almond butter, cinnamon, honey, or any additional toppings.

13. Hidden Veggie Smoothie

Purple kid's cup filled with green smoothie and raspberries on top. A straw sticking out.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 small banana (fresh or frozen)
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen fruit (such as blueberries, strawberries, mango, apple, or kiwi)
  • ½ cup veggies (such as kale, spinach, raw fresh or frozen chopped cauliflower, raw fresh or frozen sliced zucchini, raw fresh or frozen sliced summer squash, roasted sweet potato, roasted butternut squash, steamed diced beets)
  • Optional add-ins:
    • 1 tsp hemp seeds, chia seeds, or ground flaxseed
    • 1 tbsp nut butter
    • 2 tbsp avocado
    • 1-2 tsp cocoa powder
    • 1-2 tsp honey or maple syrup
    • 1 tbsp rolled oats
Get the Recipe Here

14. Chia Seed Pudding

A chia seed pudding is great to set aside in the fridge overnight or enjoy 10-15 minutes after preparation. Combine 2-3 tablespoons of chia seeds with ½ cup of your milk of choice. Then add fruit preserves or chocolate chips.

15. Whole Grain Waffles

Waffles on light pink kid's plate. Syrup is on top with some raspberries.

Use the recipe for whole grain pancakes and your waffle maker for a different spin on a traditional pancake. Add fruit, butter, or a drizzle of honey on top.

16. Three Ingredient Cereal Bars

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup smooth natural peanut butter
  • ½ cup honey (or brown rice syrup)
  • 3½ cups whole grain cereal
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract, optional
Get the Recipe Here

17. Fruit and Yogurt

Purple bowl with yogurt and blueberries on top. Pink spoon scooping out some.

Your choice of fruit (sliced apples, bananas, blueberries, strawberries, etc.) paired with whole-fat Greek yogurt and a dash of cinnamon.

18. Breakfast Quesadilla

A warm, whole-grain tortilla with melted cheese, egg, spinach, tomatoes, beans, or other veggies! This healthy breakfast idea for kids is an easy way to incorporate protein, carbohydrates, fats, and veggies into one meal.

Directions:

  1. Preheat a nonstick pan on medium heat; place the tortilla in the pan and add all your toppings of choice, like cheese, beans, and veggies.
  2. Fold the tortilla in half and flip to brown the other side.

19. Simple Snack Plate

Purple plate filled with little snacks for kids

A snack plate is among great healthy breakfast ideas that provide variety and keep your little one satiated. You can include low-sugar cereal or crackers, cheese, cottage cheese, nut butter, an egg, and fruit. Customize to what your little one likes, and even test out new fruits or veggies for a change.

20. Chocolate and Nut Butter Oatmeal

A classic pair, cook oatmeal according to instructions, melt in some chocolate chips, and top with peanut butter, almond butter, sunflower butter, cashew butter, or something else your kid loves.

Nothing starts the day better than a wholesome, balanced healthy breakfast idea with protein, a good helping of carbs, and some healthy fats. These 20 healthy breakfast ideas for kids are perfect for helping your little one grow!

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  • Author
Nicole Avena
Dr. Nicole Avena, Ph. D. Associate Professor of Neuroscience
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Nicole Avena, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Neuroscience at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Visiting Professor of Psychology at Princeton University. She is the author of several books, including… Read more

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