By Cathy Monaghan MSc, H.Dip, RD.

Is Breakfast the most important Meal of the day for a 1 year old?

Breakfast can often be a toddlers best meal and your best feeding feeding opportunity because:

  • they are (hopefully) well rested

  • their little stomachs are least likely to be full of snacks or milk

  • Often a toddler will only eat 2 decent meals in the day, by dinner time they are too tired and possibly too full to eat.

  • For some households breakfast is the meal where you can eat together. If this is what will work with your schedule then take the opportunity to get the most out of breakfast.

  • Sometimes by dinner time and a long day at work we as parents are tired and low on patience. If our expectations are unrealistic then things aren’t going to go well.

    What is your most patient time of the day?


If you are pulling your hair out trying to get your one year old to eat – then don’t underestimate breakfast!



Breakfast Ideas for a one year old.

Breakfast can be a toddlers best meal of the day. It is an opportunity not to be missed.

A word about milk:

Aim for food to be the first thing your toddler has in the day. Ditch the milk until after meals and limit milk intake to between 300-500mls per day.

If you are breastfeeding, continue for as long as suits you and your toddler. Think about the gap between their last feed and meal.

If you are formula feeding there is no need for formula after their first birthday. Switch to full fat cows milk ( whole milk ) or a fortified, suitable alternative.


The trick to adding foods to breakfast:

Breakfast isn’t just ‘breakfast’ it is another ‘meal’.

We are conditioned to think cereal/ toast but really the options are endless! Whatever marketing campaign shaped our breakfast choices has been highly successful!

Start with where you are. Your toddlers usual breakfast – whatever it is – cereal, toast, whatever – let their usual food be the food that settles them, it keeps them relaxed. Nothing has changed. Your toddler has no idea you are up to anything – everything is as it is supposed to be.

Change nothing – especially not your language. Your aim isn’t to get your toddler to eat it. Your aim is that your toddler is relaxed around the new food.

Let me repeat! There is no pressure to eat it.


How to add new foods:

Getting our toddlers familiar with a food is where success lies! Put a little bit of the new food on the table in front, it is just there, no expectation for it to be eaten. Think of the process:

  • See the food

  • Touch the food

  • Smell the food

  • Eventually taste the food.

    How long this takes is up to your child, your role is to expose them to it!

What foods to add:

Start small! If you put too much effort into this and your toddler refuses everything and throws it on the floor you will lose heart. The path to success is that of least effort (it is too early in the morning for too much effort anyway).


Easy toddler breakfast add ins, theses are simple & healthy & do offer more nutrition.

Variety doesn’t have to mean a fancy recipe – variety is colour, shape, texture, temperature.

Adapt the textures to suit your toddler.

Keep the lunch box in mind – aim to get your toddler familiar with the foods that will making packing their lunch box easier for you.

  • Grated/ chopped fruit (extra colour, fibre, vitamins and minerals, feeding their microbiome – the good bacteria in their gut)

  • Banana

  • Grated cheese beside their toast (protein, calcium, iodine)

  • A chopped tomato beside their toast (colour, texture, new smells)

  • A chopped cucumber (colour, crunchy texture, something cold)

  • Peanut butter or any Nut butter (- presuming you have introduced the allergen’s in weaning). (Vegetable proteins, good fats!)

  • A little of last nights leftover dinner (again we are working on familiarity not on the eating).

  • If your toddler likes white bread, you could also offer a little of a whole wheat slice on the side.

  • A cup of whole grain breakfast cereal beside what they are usually having.

  • Cream cheese on toast – or their usual toast as is & one piece with a little cream cheese. (Protein, fat soluble vitamins, calories).

  • An egg cup full of yoghurt – if your toddler will only eat a cartoon character themed yoghurt there is no reason why you can’t wash and reuse the carton with a little natural yogurt. (Extra Protein, B12, Iron)

  • An English muffin

    When you have more time:

  • Scrambled eggs

  • French Toast/ Banana french toast

  • French toast sticks

  • Pancakes and change the toppings up.


Other tricks:

If possible getting your toddler to help! If you are making pancakes or french toast let your toddler crack the eggs to help!


Word Play

Let your 1 year old be adventurous, encourage curiosity. Language helps encourage curiosity!

  • These cucumbers/ tomato/ fruit are really crunchy / sweet/ tasty yum!

  • Lets see who can make a louder crunch!

  • Eye spy with my little eye – something red! A tomato!

  • Can you stick the fork into that banana?

  • Can you feed me some yoghurt? Yummy yoghurt it is cold and smooth. Is it white or green?


End every meal on a positive:

If your toddler is going through a particularly selective time it can be hard to see the positives at meals. If you have a pre conceived expectation for what your toddler should eat or how much they should eat – you are probably setting yourself up for disappointment. If your toddler senses your disappointment – they aren’t going to be rushing back for the next meal.

Instead find the positives! You will be encouraging your toddler and building their confidence at meals. It could be as simple as a positive comment when you are putting on your coat and on the way out the door.

  • Thanks for sitting with me, see you later!

  • I enjoyed that!

  • You are so good with your beaker.

  • You are a great singer.

  • Wow you are so clever with your spoon/ fork etc.

  • Lets play eye spy again tomorrow!

A relaxed breakfast is a healthy breakfast. Connection is as important as nutrition.

To learn more about keeping mealtimes relaxed, join me for the Toddler Masterclass.