For most of the parents I know, sleep is a luxury. Kids get up early. If your kid is the unicorn that sleeps until 10am, this healthy toddler breakfast box trick is not for you.
Note: Please talk to your kid’s pediatrician before starting a breakfast box routine, especially if your child is a young toddler to be sure it’s OK with them that your kid is eating unattended. I love sleep, but I love safety more.
We are actually pretty lucky in the sleep department. My three-year-old gets up between 6:30 and 7:00, and he likes to get dressed and look at books on his own before calling for us. Before becoming a parent, sleeping until 6:30 did not seem like a luxury, though, and there’s part of me that misses waking up naturally, feeling rested. This healthy toddler breakfast box was sort of a desperate attempt on my part to get some extra sleep.
And it medium works!
About half the time, my kid isn’t waking us up because he wants us to come play with him. It’s because he’s hungry or thirsty. Setting out the breakfast box and a sippy cup full of water buys us 15 to 30 minutes of sleep. It might not sound like much, but if you’re a sleep-deprived parent of a toddler, you know that it’s pure gold.
Each evening, Darrol Henry and I pick out what will be in his breakfast box. Here are the rules:
- The contents have to be reasonably healthy.
- They need to be non-perishable, because I don’t want him in the fridge while we are sleeping.
- No choking hazards.
- No raisins, because he always drops food, and we have dogs.
Getting him to help me pack to box is key. If he helps, then he wakes up excited to open the box and eat.
I know, we are supposed to be eating breakfast as a family, like some kind of living Norman Rockwell painting. In real life, though, sometimes you have to prioritize. Most mornings, the breakfast box is more like a snack, and we eat a proper breakfast together. Sometimes, though, if we are running late, that’s his morning meal.
Packing a Healthy Toddler Breakfast Box
There are lots of easy things that you can pack in your breakfast box! Before you start, though, make sure it’s a box that your child can open on his own. I use a Lock & Lock lunch box, the same one that we use for his lunches. If you’d prefer a plastic free option, this one from LunchBots is a good option.
Here are some examples of what we put in our healthy toddler breakfast box:
- dry cereal
- homemade muffins – My kid really liked these!
- homemade granola
- dried fruit
- a banana or orange, if your child can peel it himself
- a slice of pumpkin bread
You get the idea, right? Something healthy that’s safe to leave out on the kitchen table overnight and safe for your kid to eat unattended. Speaking of! I know that every kid is different. I am comfortable with my son having a snack when I’m not there. You know your child and how s/he eats. Talk to your pediatrician before starting a breakfast box routine, especially with a younger toddler. Sleep is wonderful, but safety is most important.