What Making Breakfast for My Kid Has Taught Me About Better Breakfasts

updated Sep 30, 2020
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(Image credit: Anjali Prasertong)

The one meal my husband, my 10-month-old son, and I always sit down to together is breakfast. At first, adding the meal prep (and feeding a messy, wiggly creature) was overwhelming, but as we’ve developed a routine and as the number of foods the baby can eat has expanded, the whole process has become a lot easier.

There’s just one problem: it’s made me realize how much better my own breakfasts could be. If the baby was old enough to write on a chalkboard, these are the lessons he would point out to me.

1. Don’t get stuck in a rut.

Since my son started eating solid foods, my goal has been to introduce him to as many tastes and textures as I can, while keeping in mind potential allergens and his limited (but always improving!) ability to pick up and chew foods. I see every meal as an opportunity to expand his food horizons, which means he tries something new for breakfast at least a couple times a week. In the early months, it might be a completely new food; now that he has a pretty extensive roster of foods he can eat, it’s more likely to be a new combination of foods, a new herb or spice, or a new texture.

I, on the other hand, have a tendency to get into week- or even month-long ruts, during which I eat almost the exact same breakfast nearly every single day. As comforting as the routine can be, it’s also pretty boring. Watching my son enjoy his ever-changing morning menu is a reminder that changing up my breakfasts, even in small ways — strawberries on my almond butter toast instead of bananas — makes me a little more excited about the first meal of the day.

2. Try dinner for breakfast.

One easy way to add a little more variety to breakfast is to eat leftovers from last night’s dinner. Foods like mashed chickpeas, roasted cauliflower, and lentil soup are all fair game for baby’s breakfast; why should it be any different for a grown-up? An added bonus: When I follow my son’s lead and eat dinner for breakfast, I invariably end up eating more protein and more vegetables than usual, which usually means more energy until lunchtime.

Even on the mornings when I’m just not in the mood for a full dinner for breakfast, I’ve been inspired to revamp my leftovers into more breakfast-friendly fare — like eating last night’s sweet potatoes with yogurt, maple syrup, and nuts, or adding a side of leftover kale salad to my meal of toast and eggs.

3. Prep your breakfast the night before (or even earlier).

Much like me, my kid is a real grump until he gets his breakfast, which means I rarely serve anything that requires a lot of prep in the mornings. Instead I typically either give him dinner leftovers from the night before or food I cooked and froze in single-serve portions days or weeks ago. (The big exception: scrambled eggs, which he loves and are quick enough to not be a hassle.)

Being able to assemble his breakfasts in a matter of minutes has reminded me that I have plenty of options for grown-up make-ahead breakfasts, especially if I get my freezer involved. I’m headed back to school this fall, and before I do, you can be sure I’ll have plenty of breakfast sandwiches, single-serve oatmeal, and breakfast burritos in the freezer, ready for the busy mornings ahead.

4. Focus on the food, not your phone.

Before having a baby, I always ate my breakfast while browsing blogs on my laptop, looking through Instagram on my phone, or checking my email. Now my time between bites is focused on helping my son eat, or just watching him enjoy every new bite of food. There are mornings where my husband does the feeding and in theory I could go back to my computer or my phone, but most of the time, I just don’t want to. Seeing my kid pour all his energy and focus into experiencing his meal helps me remember that setting aside my usual distractions for a moment in the mornings while I eat is a much calmer, happier way to start the day.

What do you do to make breakfast a better, happier meal in the morning?