03.Choosing a cereal
Why eat breakfast?
Breakfast is an important meal for kids. If they don’t eat breakfast they're likely to be hungry by mid-morning.
Several studies have suggested that children who skip breakfast tend to be fatter than those who don’t, and there’s some evidence to suggest that eating breakfast improves kids’ learning ability.
Children don’t need as much fibre as adults, but should still go for a cereal with a ‘high’ or ‘moderate’ amount, as listed in the table — and not too much fat, sugar or salt.
For the most part, if you’re looking for a good cereal choice for your kids, ignore the colourful packaging and claims that are part and parcel of kids’ cereals, and go for one of the cereals listed in The best or a good adult one — see Family cereals can be a better choice, our visit our breakfast cereals report — or follow our suggestions for choosing a cereal, below.
Choosing a cereal
- Kids need less fibre than adults because it can make a small stomach full before it’s had a chance to get enough energy and other nutrients. Too much can also cause children to get stomach upsets and diarrhoea. But a cereal with a moderate amount of fibre is still better for them than little or none. As a guide, kids need their age plus 5–10 grams per day. For example, a five-year-old should eat 10–15 g a day.
- Go for ones with less added sugar and salt. See CHOICE Food For Kids for recommended amounts per serving.
- Many breakfast cereals contain added vitamins and minerals which can make a useful contribution to your child's diet. However, it’s more important when choosing a cereal to base your shortlist on high fibre and low fat, salt and sugar before you consider vitamins and minerals.
- The bottom line is that most kids' cereals are better than no breakfast at all, and the vitamins and minerals as well as calcium from the milk are a bonus.