When Can Kids Make Their Own Breakfast? Here's What The Experts Say
The best developmental milestones your child reaches are the ones that give you the chance to sleep in a bit longer. With this in mind, when can kids make their own breakfast? Knowing your child can prep for the first meal of the day is such a relief.
With the caveat that every kid develops on their own timeline, there are some general ages to keep in mind for breakfast duties. "That range, in thinking about a developmental period where a child would typically be capable of being safely charged with the responsibility of organizing a healthy breakfast would be at, or about the age of 4," Suanne Kowal-Connelly M.D., official spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), tells Romper. Of course, Dr. Kowal-Connelly adds that independent breakfasts for this age group would not involve the use of heat, sharp objects, or electricity. But with every passing year, their capabilities increase. "In general, around kindergarten (age 5 or 6), a child should be able to pour milk and cereal for themselves. A slightly older child (age 7 or 8) could likely make toast or waffles in a toaster after being supervised initially," Reshmi Basu M.D., a CHOC Children’s pediatrician, tells Romper. When can you add some heat to the mix? "At 8-9 years old children can use the stove with supervision; if the parent does not feel comfortable with this they can work on other kitchen skills such as reading a recipe, measuring out ingredients and learning food safety," Meredith McWilliams, a registered dietitian at Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock and a mother of four, explains to Romper. Again, these are generalities, and you'll be a better judge of when your kid is ready to take on these breakfast duties.
There's a ton of great breakfast choices for kids, too, even if your little one isn't ready to work the stove or microwave just yet. "Healthy breakfast options will be well-balanced and include whole grains, protein and a fruit," says Dr. Basu. "Whole grains can include oatmeal, toast or cereal. For protein you can give milk, yogurt, peanut butter, eggs or cheese. Smoothies are also a good option if breakfast needs to be eaten on the go, and they can pack in a lot of vitamins." Bagels, English muffins, or toast topped with cream cheese or peanut butter and fresh fruit are also solid options, according to McWilliams.
How can you make sure your kid keeps up the breakfast habit if you aren't the one serving it every day? First, explain the importance of breakfast on their terms. "I love to compare our bodies to machines that kids can relate to," such as cars or tablets, says Dr. Kowal-Connelly. "Eating your healthy breakfast is your body’s way of getting fueled and/or charged for the day ahead." Also, make it a family policy whenever possible. "Eating breakfast needs to be a part of the family's value, with the parents/caregivers providing structure and boundaries for the meal and leading by example," says McWilliams. What if your kid would rather trade breakfast time for a few extra minutes of sleep? "If time remains an obstacle, then try to prepare the night before, for example by making a smoothie or hard-boiling some eggs," says Dr. Basu. With a little flexibility, you and your kids can make eating breakfast a habit that lasts.
Whenever your kid reaches the breakfast-making milestone, be proud of their accomplishments. Even some kid-made peanut butter toast is kind of a big deal. Reflect on this when you're finally able to sleep in an extra few minutes while your kid preps breakfast solo.
Meredith McWilliams, MS, RD, LD, a registered dietitian at Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock and a mother of four