6 Reasons Your Children Need Breakfast (Archived Pedcast)


I think this pedcast title speaks for itself. Today we are going to go over six reasons your children need breakfast and why all parents with young children should make providing breakfast a priority for their children. Stay tuned for this informative and important pedcast that’s coming at you right now with me, your host, Dr. Paul Smolen.

Musical Introduction

Why did Grandma like us to eat breakfast?

Why did grandma like breakfast for her kids so much and why did she think it was so important? I’m sure she would have preferred to sleep in rather than getting up and doing all that food preparation and clean up. But somehow, she knew that it was important and thank goodness she did. Her children were the beneficiaries of her efforts. What are these great six benefits of children eating breakfast you are wondering? Well here they are.

Number 1– Having a nutritious breakfast has been shown to improve a child’s ability to pay attention, enhance children’s ability to make good decisions, and improve their short term memory when compared with children who are still fasting at the time of school starting. You want that for your kids, right? You want them at their cognitive best when that school bell rings and breakfast is one way to make sure that happens.

Number 2– Breakfast got its name from the fact that sleeping is a fasting low energy state and eating breakfast, breaks that low energy state and revs up your kids metabolism so they can perform.  The day is waiting for them and breakfast primes the pump for them to turn on their energy production. You want them to make the most of each and every day. Breakfast gives them a running start at the day’s challenges.

Number 3-Some experts estimate that on average, children consume 40% of their calories outside the home with parents having little or no control of what their children are fed.  Providing a breakfast gives you complete control of what your children eat for this meal.  Don’t give this opportunity away. Make breakfast a meal full of high quality food that will nourish your children.

Number 4– having a breakfast time gives your children a chance to wake up before they are expected to perform and learn at school. Being awake long enough to eat breakfast ensures that they are fully awake by the time they reach school, tummy full and brain fully awake.

Number 5– I know it is counter intuitive but research has shown that eating breakfast helps adults and children control their weight. A little more about this in a minute.

Number 6– And this one is super important. Providing time for breakfast each morning gives you some quiet time to spend with your children and a chance to reinforce to them things that are important for their success.  “Jimmy, remember to take your time and do your best on that math test today, Alice, did you remember to pack your social studies project that you need to turn in today, and Billy, here is what you do if you get bullied at school.” Breakfast time also gives you a chance to listen to your children’s concerns and worries about the day. I always found my children more willing to talk about their feelings either very early or very late in the day. I got some of my best insights into what they were thinking at the edges of the day. I hope you will too.


Is there evidence that any of this was right?

Well, yes.

As for children learning better who eat breakfast (reason number 1)-Mothers, grandmothers, and teachers, have believed this to be true for a long time, based on their own observations. I don’t need much more than this to be convinced that it is true.  Their observations are better than any double blind study since it reflects really million of observations and data points to use today’s lingo. It also makes common sense.  A hungry sleepy child is not going to learn as well as one who is awake and has a full stomach. This is fact. There is a recent review article that summarized scientific articles on the subject and the authors of this review came to the same conclusion; breakfast improves children’s ability to learn at school.

As for reason number three (controlling the quality of food your children eat)- I think this speaks for itself but if you need more encouragement to get up and fix a good healthy breakfast for you kids, check out this article on WebMD on the subject. More on what constitutes a healthy breakfast in a moment.

As for the issue of weight control and obesity (reason number five), take a look at this huge study known as the Adventist Study that followed 48,000 people over a 7 year period and found that those eating breakfast, especially a large breakfast, had better weight control than those that did not eat breakfast at all.



What is a good and bad of breakfast?

You may be wondering what constitutes a good breakfast? What should you strive to provide for my kids to give them the best breakfast possible? Some of this is opinion since not a lot of money being spent on double blind, placebo controlled, long-term studies to see if a child’s breakfast improves their metabolism but let’s start with what many experts believe to be a healthy breakfast. What does that food need to provide for your child?

Healthy Breakfast ingredients

-Foods that are full of energy along with other nutrients that’s kids need like vitamins and essential fats.  More on that here https://www.docsmo.com/sugar-in-childrens-cereals-article/

-Foods that provide balanced proteins such as those found in egg-based foods, soy based foods, fish or other meats

-Foods that are rich in fiber and natural sugars that burn slowly powering your child all through the morning like whole grain cereals, fruits, nuts, and berries.

Fermented foods like yogurt or kefir that not only give your child easy to digest energy, but that feed the micro biome in their guts.

OK, if those are the foods that make up good breakfasts for kids, what would be on Doc Smo’s not good list? What is a bad breakfast?

Unhealthy Breakfast Composition

The opposite of a good breakfast, of course!  All these foods fall into the processed food categories.

Number one on this list are foods full of empty calories which means, foods where the sugar has been separated from the fiber. High glycemic index foods like most kids breakfast cereals, processed waffles, syrup, pancakes, donuts, and packaged breakfast pastries to mention a few.

Additionally, foods that are high in calories that contain little or no protein, micronutrients, or fiber- most children’s breakfast cereals fall into this category as well. 

And finally foods that contain very artificial and altered ingredients like trans fats, preservatives, and artificial colors and dyes.


Chalk up another victory for Grandma!

So in conclusion, was Grandma right about putting such an emphasis on her children getting breakfast at the beginning of their day?  You bet she was for the following reasons:

  1. Allow your children to do their best thinking in school.
  1. Gives your children’s metabolism a boost at a time of day when their metabolism is slow from sleeping.
  2. Provides your children essential nutrients and gives you a chance to “control” some of their children’s food intake.
  3. Eating breakfast gives their sleepy brains a chance to wake up from sleep
  4. Helps kids control their weight.
  5. Gives you, their parents, a chance to talk, show concern, advise, and encourage; really communicate.

Yes grandma was right again. For many other posts about your motherly wisdom, check out the new tab I have created on my homepage under topics. Those grandmas were wise ones. Doc Smo pearl: Grandma’s common sense and strong desire to see her children succeed is the source of her amazing wisdom. 



Well thanks for listening. I hope you learned something that you can put to use with your children. If you enjoy hearing about child health topics with pedcasts, consider taking a moment to write a review on iTunes or the DocSmo Facebook page. Doing either of these things helps others find my podcast. And remember, Portable Practical Pediatrics is a blog that means your comments and insights are welcome. Share them. This is Doc Smo, reminding you that grandma knew, what was best for her crew. Until next time.