Inside this article: Mornings with toddlers can be hectic, yet breakfast is a key part of their day. This article will cover my favorite toddler breakfast ideas for busy mornings, what foods to focus on, and how much to serve.
If you have a toddler at home you know how crazy mornings can get. Right now, I have an almost 2-year-old son and a 5-year-old daughter, so this topic is fresh in my mind. Most mornings feel like a rush to get out the door to school and work.
We are also in the “me do” and “mine” phase with my toddler, so, you know how that ends up. 🙂
As a pediatric dietitian, I know how important breakfast is for kids. In fact, breakfast has been shown to be a key factor for their health, cognitive performance, quality of life, and well-being. (1)
But, as a busy mom, I also want to make breakfast quick and efficient so we can make it where we need to go. That is why I have developed a rotation of healthy breakfast ideas that I can lean on based on a simple formula.
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Table of Contents
Healthy toddler breakfast plate
To build a healthy breakfast for toddlers (and kids) I recommend 3 main components:
- Protein/fat: toddlers and kids need healthy protein and fat sources for growth & development. Protein and fat also help keep them full longer, which can reduce their frequent snack demands. Many protein sources also contain fat, so it’s a 2-in-1.
- Starch: this could be from grains or starchy veggies but is key to a healthy breakfast for toddlers. Starches provide the energy that their brain and body need. Carbohydrates are the primary energy source for kids and typically makeup 60% of their nutrition needs.
- Fruit/Vegetable: let’s be real, veggies at breakfast are hard, so most of the time it will be a fruit. Fruits provide lots of vitamins and minerals kids need as well as energy (fruit is a form of carbohydrate.) Kids can get most of the same vitamins and minerals from fruits as from veggies, so don’t stress if your toddler doesn’t eat a ton of veggies right now.
I use this basic formula for all of the breakfasts I plan out for my kids. You can create your own combos if you serve different things than what I suggest below. It’s easy to build a healthy breakfast for toddlers using the foods they like if you keep this formula in mind.
Toddler breakfast ideas (great for picky toddlers)
I know you’re busy so I’m going to dive right into my favorite healthy toddler breakfast ideas for busy mornings. I’ve included 15 ideas so basically, you have enough for two full weeks!
In general, I consider toddlers to be kids between 1-3 years, so each of these ideas will cater to this age range. However, I serve the same things to my 5-year-old, so they’re great at any age.
#1: Whole grain mini bagel
Whole-grain mini bagels are the perfect size for toddlers & kids. Easy to hold and just the right size to provide enough food without having extra food waste.
I love topping it with peanut butter for fat/protein. You can also use avocado, cream cheese, cottage cheese, or ricotta cheese for other options.
If you have a kid with food allergies, swap the PB with seed butter. My favorite company for seed butter products is 88 acres but there are a ton of other great alternatives.
#2: Toddler pancakes
I like to make pancakes on the weekends (usually Saturday mornings) when I have more time, and then freeze some. Then during the week I can pull out one or two and re-warm them.
Bonus tip: if you warm the in the toaster they don’t get soggy!
You can make them from scratch or use a box mix, either way, using whole grains is best when possible.
Sometimes, I also buy pre-frozen storebought pancakes, these ones are great for toddlers, but there are lots of brand options out there.
I like to top the pancake with nut or seed butter or serve it with yogurt (for protein/fat), and usually berries.
#3: Cereal and milk
I’m pretty sure I ate cereal and milk most mornings for breakfast growing up and I turned out pretty good 🙂. Don’t be afraid to let your toddler eat cereal! Breakfast cereals are fortified with key nutrients kids need for growth.
You can top it with a milk or milk alternative of your choice. I prefer whole milk, soy milk, or pea-based milk for toddlers since they have the best fat/protein per ounce. You can also add some berries or freeze-dried strawberries for flavor.
Best cereal for toddlers
My number one consideration when picking a toddler cereal is safety (making sure it isn’t a choking hazard) and added sugar. I aim for as low added sugar as possible for toddlers (especially younger toddlers).
As kids get older, a bit more added sugar is ok (I still like to keep added sugar under 6 g/serving). I also like to target cereals that have at least 1-2 g fiber and 2 g protein. Fiber and protein will help with satiety.
My top 5 favorite toddler cereal:
- Plain unsweetened oatmeal (0 g added sugar, 4 g fiber, 6 g protein)
- Cascadian Farms O’s cereal (<1 g added sugar, 4 g fiber, 4 g protein) Other O’s brands also work.
- Awsum super cereal star puffs (0 g added sugar, 2 g fiber, 4 g protein)
- Natures path puffed kamut (0 g added sugar, 2 g fiber, 2 g protein
- Arrowhead mills puffed millet (0 g added sugar, 1 g fiber, 2 g protein)
- Bonus: Lovebird grain-free cereal (several flavors) (0-4 g added sugar, 4 g fiber, 2 g protein)
We recently tried the lovebird grain-free cereals and my toddler loved them. They have several flavors in addition to their plain o’s. The flavored ones do have some added sugar (4g) but that is still lower than most other flavored cereals on the market.
#4: Toddler breakfast muffins
I love muffins as an easy breakfast and snack choice for toddlers and kids. You can make them in advance in large quantities, freeze them and pull them out a little at a time. When I make toddler breakfast muffins I focus on natural sweeteners where I can, limiting added/refined sugar.
I usually serve breakfast muffins with milk or yogurt and fruit. But they could also go as a side to eggs or breakfast sausage. Muffins are great on the go!
If you want a nutritious toddler breakfast muffin that is storebought I love the veggies made great muffins. I’ve seen them at Target, Vons, and a variety of other stores! My toddler loves the zucchini and chocolate chip ones, and they have a ton of other flavors.
Bonus Tip: muffins are a great vehicle for veggies and legumes at breakfast. Zucchini, sweet potato, carrots, and beans make great nutrition-packed add-ins. Try to include your toddler in the cooking process and avoid “sneaking” or “hiding” veggies which can break trust.
My favorite place to get nutrition-boosted kids’ muffin and bar recipes is from Lindsay at the Lean Green Bean. She is a fellow dietitian and has so many great recipes, my kids love these white bean muffins.
Scrambling an egg for your toddler takes under 5 min start to finish, yet I think eggs often get overlooked as a quick breakfast choice.
Eggs are a nutrition powerhouse for toddlers, packed with protein and fat which helps them stay full longer. Eggs also contain high levels of choline a key nutrient in brain development that is often lacking in the diet of toddlers. (2)
While you are scrambling the egg, throw a slice of whole-grain toast in the toaster and peel a clementine.
Bonus Tip: the vitamin C in the clementine helps improve the absorption of the iron they get from the egg and whole grain toast. Iron-rich foods are especially important for picky toddlers!
#6: Toddler-friendly waffles
You’re probably thinking I’m going to suggest making homemade waffles. And, if that is your thing, go for it! I rarely make homemade waffles in my house. I’ve tried them and my kids don’t seem to like them enough to make it worth it.
I like to pick more nutritiously dense store-bought frozen waffles instead. They are quick and easy.
Favorite frozen waffle brands for kids
- Natures Path
There are many other great brands depending on the store you shop at. My general rule for frozen waffles is to find one that contains 2-3 grams of fiber and 2-3 g of protein per waffle (or more). The lower the added sugar content the better.
You can top waffles with nut/seed butter or chia jam for protein/fat, and serve with fresh fruit like strawberries or blueberries. My kids also love a bit of whip cream on their waffles.
#7: Toddler yogurt
My kids love yogurt, as do most of the clients I work with. I love yogurt as a breakfast option because it provides both carbohydrates and protein all in one easy serving.
Serve their yogurt with fruit and low-sugar cereal or granola (if the pieces are small and not a choking hazard.)
Granola can be tough so your toddler should have good chewing skills before offering it. Their chewing skills will improve as they move from a young toddler (closer to 1) to an older toddler (2-3), so start with puffed cereal and move from there.
#8: Egg muffin cups
Egg muffins are great for toddlers because they are easy to hold and eat and can be served on the go if needed.
To make: scramble eggs (~7) with cheese and any finely chopped veggies or meats you want, (ham or sausage work well.)
Then add the egg mixture to a greased muffin tin and bake in the oven at 375 degrees for about 20 min. If you search for toddler egg muffin cups online, you can find a ton of recipe variations too!
Pair the egg muffin cups with fruit and toast or even whole-grain crackers.
#9: Toddler smoothie
One of the easiest ways to get some veggies in your toddler at breakfast is to add them to a smoothie. But, you can also do just fruit smoothies too. I love this orange creamsicle smoothie.
The great thing about smoothies is that you can pack a lot of nutrition into them and they are easy to drink on the go. Great for mornings when you don’t have time to sit down. Below is my go-to toddler smoothie formula.
Toddler breakfast smoothie recipe
- 1 cup milk of choice
- 1 small frozen banana
- ½ cup other fruit (I love frozen berries)
- ½ cup vegetable (spinach, frozen chopped cauliflower or zucchini, sweet potato, etc.)
- 1 tsp seeds (hemp, chia, or ground flax)
- (optional) peanut/seed butter (I love PB/banana/strawberry and spinach together)
You can use the formula above to make whatever combination you want based on what you think your kids will like.
Bonus: let your toddler help you make the smoothie. When they see the veggies going in and then realize they like the flavor, they get a positive veggie vibe. This might make them more willing to try the veggie in its whole form next time.
#10: Cottage cheese & fruit
If your toddler likes cottage cheese, it’s a great breakfast option. Quick, easy, and high in both protein and fat (get the full-fat version).
You can pair it with any fruit you want and serve it with whole-grain crackers or even toast.
#11: Drinkable yogurt
My kids love the drinkable yogurts from the store, but man do those get expensive. I’ve recently discovered my toddler is perfectly content when I make my own drinkable yogurt. I simply take whatever low-sugar yogurt I have on hand, add some milk to it and shake.
Using an open cup with a straw is currently a novelty for him, so he will try just about anything that way. Just stay close by with this option, toddler spills can get crazy!
For a more spillproof experience, we use these Elk & Friends stainless steel cups for smoothies, shakes, and drinkable yogurts. They work great, are fairly spillproof, and keep stuff cold for a while.
#12: Toddler oatmeal
Oatmeal is seriously a breakfast classic. I love oatmeal because you can buy it in bulk, it is cost-effective and super nutritious.
Oatmeal is a great breakfast for families because you can make the base oatmeal and then each person can pick their own toppings. We love a DIY oatmeal bar.
I like making a big batch of oatmeal on the weekends and then freezing it in 1-cup portions for the weekdays. These souper cubes are my favorite for freezing food.
Best toddler oatmeal toppings
- Milk or milk alternative: add it on top to thin out the oatmeal and cool it down.
- Creamy nut/seed butter: were huge PB fans in our home. I love to stir ½ a teaspoon of creamy PB into oatmeal (then top it with banana).
- Diced bananas: toddlers love bananas, they’re soft and sweet and make the best oatmeal topping. Plus they add some sweetness naturally.
- Raisins or dried cranberries: I usually start providing these after 18 months or when teeth are in and chewing skills are good. They could be a choking hazard, make sure they don’t clump.
- Fresh berries: smashed blueberries-fresh or frozen wild blueberries, diced strawberries, or raspberries all work great.
- Almond pieces: make sure to get the sliced ones without the skins so these are not a choking hazard. My two-year-old loves the dry roasted sliced almonds from TJs!
- Seeds: hemp, chia, or ground flax are all great for toddlers, mix them right in)-1 tsp is plenty in a serving of oatmeal.
- Mini chocolate chips: ok don’t hate on me here, kids love chocolate and sometimes a little chocolate encourages new food. Get the mini dark chocolate chips which are not that high in sugar and taste great in oatmeal! Best for two years plus.
- Pumpkin puree: the kind in the can work great! Be sure to get pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling. Pumpkin adds a great flavor and a boost of beta-carotene too!
- Sweet potato: another great way to add some sweetness and nutrition to oatmeal. Sweet potatoes tend to be a favorite food for babies and toddlers.
#13: Toddler granola bar
If you’re feeling super stretched on time, a nutritious granola bar may be a good option for you. Many granola bars are loaded with sugar (basically just a cookie). And while there is nothing wrong with a cookie, I like to keep meals a little more nutrition dense.
When picking a good toddler granola bar I look for a bar with at least 2 grams of protein and 2 g fiber and as low added sugar as possible.
Best toddler granola bars
These are a few of my favorite granola bars for toddlers, in no particular order. As you can see some are higher in protein than others, while some are higher in added sugar. I didn’t list any bars above 4 g of added sugar.
- Cerebelly (3 g protein, 4 g fiber, 0 added sugar)
- Happy kid cinnamon apple bars (2g protein, 2 g fiber, 0 added sugar)
- Skout organic kids bars (2 g protein, 2 g fiber, 0 g added sugar)
- Lara bar banana bread (5 g protein, 4 g fiber, 0 g added sugar)
- Health warrior mixed berry chia bar (3 g protein, 5 g fiber, 2 g added sugar)
- Rx bar mini (6 g protein, 2 g fiber, 0 added sugar)
- Dino bar (fruit bar) (2 g protein, 2 g fiber, 1 g added sugar)
- Thunderbird kids PBJ (3 g protein, 3 g fiber, 0 added sugar
- Quaker kids organic (2 g protein, 2 g fiber, 3 g added sugar)
- Happy tot soft-baked oat bar (2 g protein, 4 g fiber, 4 g added sugar)
*Assess your toddler’s chewing skills for each bar. Some are slightly tougher than others and it will depend on your individual child when they are ready.
#14: Toast with peanut butter
Yep! Good old toast with peanut butter, how can you go wrong? If you’re an allergy family change this to seed butter. I feel like this is one of the best breakfasts of all time. You can also use other high-fat or protein toppings like avocado, cream cheese, chia jam etc.
Alternatively, instead of toast, you can also use a whole-grain tortilla, brown rice cake, or any other grain of choice.
Top with fruit or serve fruit on the side. Also great with a glass of milk.
#15: Toddler pouches
I know this one might surprise you, but sometimes a pouch is just what you need to get a quick meal or snack out the door.
Not all pouches are created equal though, and some are better than others for providing “staying power.” This means they actually help your kids feel full for longer than 10 seconds.
When I’m looking at pouches for toddlers to use as a meal I like to find one with fiber and fat or protein. This gives the most bang for your buck for the snack/mini meal.
Best pouches for toddlers
Here are my top two favorite pouch brands for toddler meals that fit the fiber and fat or protein rule! I have used both of these brands with my kids.
- Cerebelly: The nutrition label on these pouches varies based on the flavor. You can create your own bundles on their website and choose the more nutrient-dense flavors if you want. They are all free of added sugar + earned the purity award for testing free of heavy metals.
A few of my favorites:
- Carrot & beef broth (2.5 g fat, 4 g fiber, 5 g protein)
- Butternut squash & chicken broth (2.5 g fat, 4 g fiber, 5 g protein)
- Sweet potato & chicken broth (2.5 g fat, 4 g fiber, 5 g protein)
- Carrot & chickpea with ginger (1.5 g fat, 7 g fiber, 4 g protein)
- Black bean & sweet potato (1 g fat, 6 g fiber, 4 g protein)
- Butternut squash & white bean (0 g fat, 8 g fiber, 4 g protein)
- Pea & basil (0 g fat, 6 g fiber, 4 g protein)
- Serenity Kids: These pouches also vary in nutrition based on flavor but I love their selection of both meat-based purees, plant-based veggie puree, and also their smoothie pouches. They have also earned the clean label purity award for testing free of heavy metals.
A few of my favorites:
- Free-range chicken with peas & carrots (5 g fat, 3 g fiber, 5 g protein)
- Wild-caught salmon with butternut squash & beet (5 g fat, 2 g fiber, 5 g protein)
- Turkey bolognese (5 g fat, 2 g fiber, 6 g protein)
- Berry butternut dairy-free smoothie (5 g fat, 2 g fiber, 5 g protein)
- Pumpkin spice dairy-free smoothie (5 g fat, 2 g fiber, 5 g protein)
- Beet & carrot dairy-free smoothie (6 g fat, 2 g fiber, 5 g protein)
Healthy toddler breakfast ideas (copy/paste list)
I know this post got a little lengthy, so here is a list recap of my favorite toddler breakfast ideas from above. Feel free to copy this and paste it into the notepad on your phone for easy access. You can also use it to create your own rotation.
- Whole grain mini bagel: peanut/seed butter+ fruit + milk
- Pancakes: creamy nut/seed butter or yogurt + fruit
- Cereal & milk: berries
- Breakfast muffins: yogurt or milk + fruit
- Scrambled eggs: toast + fruit
- Waffles (whole grain): fruit + yogurt or milk
- Yogurt: low-sugar cereal or granola + fruit
- Egg muffin cups: toast or crackers & fruit
- Smoothie: (fruit/veggie/seed/milk mix-ins)
- Cottage cheese & fruit: toast or crackers
- Drinkable Yogurt: serve alone or with fresh fruit
- Oatmeal: plus a variety of toppings
- Granola bar: serve with fruit or yogurt
- Peanut butter toast: with fruit and milk
- Pouches + fruit or crackers
If these ideas feel super basic to you, that is because they are! Feeding kids should be simple and low-stress.
You can always find additional fancier, more involved recipes online as you have time, but with toddlers/young kids, time isn’t always there. The goal is to feed your kids nutritious meals within the parameters of your current life.
Pick the options that work for you and create a rotation. Toddlers and kids thrive on consistency!
Breakfast ideas for picky toddlers
Toddlers are naturally picky at times, it is part of their development. But, if you find yourself with an extremely picky eater on your hands, it’s best to get some help now. You can schedule an appointment with me for more individualized help for your picky toddler.
The breakfast ideas listed above are all great for picky toddlers. However, what your kids will eat is very individualized. You can use the following strategies to help your picky toddler eat more at breakfast.
How to help your picky toddler eat breakfast
- Serve milk with breakfast, not before: when your toddler was a baby you probably provided an early morning milk feed, but they don’t need this anymore. If your toddler wakes up hungry, move right into breakfast. Add milk to the meal, not before the meal. Milk before a meal reduces their appetite for food and they eat less.
- Change up the breakfast daily: even if they only eat a couple of different breakfast foods, rotate them. Avoid serving the same breakfast (ie: cereal or toast every day).
- Make it look slightly different: If your child likes peanut butter toast, but no other toppings, cut it differently each time you serve it. Small changes create more flexibility for bigger changes down the road. (See the image below for an example!)
- Serve smaller portions: sometimes as parents what we think they should eat is way more than what they actually can eat. Start with just 1-2 tablespoons of each food, they can ask for more! And, when they do, give it to them.
- Reduce distractions: it might sound counterintuitive but distractions actually make picky eating worse in the long run. Try to keep the TV cartoons off and toys away from the table at breakfast. This will help them focus on their food and maybe even eat a little more.
Breakfast with toddlers can often feel overwhelming. As parents, we have a strong desire to provide nutritious foods but often we also just have to get out the door. That is why having a few simple breakfast ideas on rotation is important.
When making breakfast for your toddlers follow the simple rule of including fat and or protein, starch, and fruit or vegetable. Using this formula will allow you endless combinations.
I find it helpful to paste my list of items in a note card on my phone or on my fridge to glance at when I’m feeling in a rush or at a loss for what to make. Keep it easy!
Try not to serve the same breakfast two days in a row, but it’s okay to repeat the same thing within the week. If you have a picky toddler try to change up just one simple part of the breakfast meal. Even if that just means cutting their toast differently.
Over time, with a good rotation, breakfast will get easier and easier.
I hope you enjoyed this article. If you did, I would love for you to share it on social media or with a friend. This will help get this information into the hands of more parents who could use some support.
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