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5 foods to give your child who won't eat breakfast

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Have a kid who refuses most everything you offer her for breakfast before school? Studies show that kids who eat breakfast are more likely to maintain a healthy body weight, have better overall diets, make fewer school nurse trips, perform better on tests, have fewer discipline problems and better behavior, have improved attendance and pay attention for longer periods of time.

Here are a few tips for getting a morning meal into your reluctant breakfast eater.

Cheese sticks
Cheese sticks Sargento Foods Inc.

Cheese sticks

Light cheese sticks or string cheese offer a filling, high-protein breakfast that kids can easily eat on the go. They're also mess free and will keep long enough for your child to stick in her backpack and eat on the school bus.

You can usually pick up store brand cheese sticks on the cheap, but even brand names carry a reasonable price tag at Walmart. BJ's usually carries one or two brands of cheese sticks in larger quantity bags. Tasty cheese stick brand options include Weight Watchers mozzarella sticks and Sargento's colby jack sticks.


Carnation Breakfast Essentials
Carnation Breakfast Essentials Beth McIntire

Carnation Breakfast Essentials

At first glance, Carnation Breakfast Essentials (formerly known as Carnation Instant Breakfast) may look like glorified chocolate milk, and it probably seems that way to your kids, too. Fortunately, the beverage actually contains a fair amount of nutritional value and protein, especially when mixed with skim milk or soy milk. Your kids will love its smooth, chocolaty flavor, and it even tastes great warmed up in the microwave on cold days.

Oatmeal Beth McIntire


Instant oatmeal offers numerous choices that may appeal to little ones. You can buy packets with everything from fruit to nuts or chocolate chips, or make your own oatmeal and add your child's favorite extras. Pick up some mini chocolate chips, dried fruit such as Craisins, chopped nuts and other goodies at the store and add to homemade oatmeal with a bit of sweetener.

Yogurt General Mills


Fat free or low fat yogurt comes in an astounding array of brands and flavors, making it likely one will strike your child's fancy. Yoplait Light, for example, comes in Boston creme, orange creme, strawberry shortcake, pineapple upside down cake, raspberry cheesecake, raspberry lemonade and key lime pie, among many others.

Yogurt often goes on sale and has available newspaper coupons, but some store brands offer exceptional taste and flavor variety with every day low prices. Kroger's house brand selection of "Carbmaster" yogurt flavors include white chocolate, carrot cake, strawberry cake, spiced pear, vanilla chai and banana cream. Kroger's "light" yogurts include coconut creek, French apple, rapsberry acai and pink grapefruit.

Trader Joe's carries a nice selection of reasonably priced house-brand yogurt flavors, including nonfat Greek yogurt for 99 cents a carton in flavors such as honey, pomegranate, vanilla bean and mango. Trader Joe's also sells whole milk and dairy-free yogurt choices.

School breakfast
School breakfast John Moore/Getty Images

School breakfast

Does your kids' school serve breakfast? Some kids, just like some grown-ups, don't want to eat when they first get up in the morning, but may start feeling peckish a little bit later. Breakfast at school might prove just the ticket for these types.

Many schools serve breakfast under the federal government's school meal program, and not just for those who qualify for free or reduced price meals. Your school's Web site probably has details on breakfast time periods, menus and costs. Cafeterias often charge only a dollar or two for a non-discounted student breakfast - probably no more than you'd spend on breakfast at home.

School breakfasts must meet certain nutritional criteria to participate in the federal program, and you may have options to prepay online so your children won't have to keep track of cash for their meals. To encourage use of breakfast programs, some schools even let kids bring breakfast trays to their classrooms as a time saver.