These breakfast menu cards for toddlers and preschoolers totally changed our morning routine- for the better! Download your printable for free here.
Mornings are the most rushed part of the day in our house…is it that way for you too? Getting everyone out of bed, dressed, fed, and out the door on time makes me feel like a superhero. Well, I feel like a superhero after everyone is strapped down into their car seats. That’s when I breathe for the first time since hopping out of bed. During the morning routine, I feel like my three year old is the boss, and I’m just trying to find ways to convince him to put his pants on without losing my temper.
Breakfast can feel chaotic too. We usually deal with one of these scenarios:
#1- Three year old comes down the stairs yelling, “I WANT CEREAL! I WANT CEREAL! I WANT CEREAL!” Some days it’s fine, but some days I already started making something else, or I had something else planned, or I just don’t feel like listening to him tell me what to do 5 minutes after I got out of bed. And then he gets upset if he doesn’t get what he wanted, and has a meltdown.
#2- I make something, and then he decides that is NOT what he wanted, and he has a meltdown.
How to make breakfast less chaotic
Something had to change! I had an idea. Toddlers and preschoolers usually respond well when they feel like they’re in charge. I try to give choices when I can. But I needed something a little more concrete. So I made these breakfast cards. We’ve been using them for a little bit now…and they WORK!
He is not having meltdowns in the morning. He is not yelling at me telling me what he wants to eat. I get to ultimately decide what we’re going to have, which makes me happier because I’m the one who has to make it. Nothing worse than making pancakes that you really didn’t want to make, cursing your child’s name under your breath as you aggressively stir the batter. Hypothetically, of course.
Download your FREE breakfast menu card printable
How to use breakfast menu cards
The breakfast menu card sheet has 9 common breakfast items with a picture and the word. There is a second sheet with blank cards, in case you want to add something else that I haven’t provided. I would recommend laminating the sheets to make them last longer. Then you cut out each card.
At night time, before heading up for bed, give them two to three cards to choose from. YOU get to decide the choices, so pick something that you know you have or can easily make. For example- last night I presented my son with the cards for Oatmeal, Smoothie, and Yogurt. These were all things I knew we had and I was willing to throw together in the morning. I said, “you get to choose one thing for breakfast tomorrow!” He chose oatmeal, and then he took the card to keep on his nightstand overnight.
This way, everyone knows what is for breakfast in the morning. If they protest, you can remind them, “Look! This is the card you chose last night. Oatmeal is what’s for breakfast today.”
Breakfast menu cards are fun
This has been the best part! My son thinks it’s SO FUN to look at the cards and be able to make his choice. He loves to carry it to bed with him and bring it down to me in the morning. It definitely has set a different tone for our mornings. We start the day with fun instead of a fight!
Breakfast menu cards prevent picky eating
This is the second reason I started using the cards. If it were up to him, my son would eat Cheerios every single day. And he would have a PB & J every single day. You get what I’m saying? When we use the breakfast menu cards, I don’t give him the same option two days in a row. So if he did have Cheerios on Monday, I wouldn’t put the cereal card out for him to choose from for Tuesday’s breakfast.
I try to stick to the rule of “No Food Two Days in a Row.” This helps with variety. Variety is important from a picky eating standpoint, to help your little one be open to all different kinds of foods. It’s also important from a nutrition standpoint. When your kids eat a variety of foods, they are more likely to get all of the nutrients that they need.
Breakfast menu cards promote healthy eating
We all can get into ruts with quick and easy breakfast options that aren’t the healthiest choices. If you’re trying to move away from some breakfast foods that aren’t as healthy as you’d like, this is a great way to do it! You can still include some of your kids’ favorites on occasion, but using the cards gives you more control over when and how often you would like those favorites to be on the menu.
Can I give them more than three options?
Do NOT let them have all 9 choices to pick from. That is too much for them, and too much for you to always have on hand. Three choices is plenty. Just make sure that they like at least two of the items you’re offering. My son doesn’t like eggs or toast, so I wouldn’t give him those as his only options.
How does it work with more than one kid?
You have two options. One, you let them each decide, if you’re okay with making more than one thing in the morning. Alternatively, you can let them take turns. It’s good for them to learn that they can pick their favorite sometimes, but their siblings get their turn, too.
What if my kid only likes one food?
I’d suggest using the blank menu cards to make your own options. For example, if your little one will ONLY eat cereal for breakfast- you can make cards with different types of cereal, like Cheerios, Chex, etc. You’re still introducing them to the concept of variety.
What if I forget to let them choose the night before?
No big deal. Just let them pick in the morning.
To help me remember, I usually pick out the next morning’s choices when I’m putting back the one he chose today. I’ll set them at his place at the dinner table so I remember to ask him to choose at dinner time.
Did you try it?
Let me know if this works for your little ones!
Emily · November 7, 2022 at 8:12 am
Kacie, do you have similar menu cards for lunch or snack options? I want my kids to learn to make good choices and I think have these cards posted on the fridge or pantry door could be so helpful! Thanks!
Mama Knows Nutrition · November 9, 2022 at 9:39 pm
Yes we do have lunch and snack menu cards! Please send an email to email@example.com and we will send them to you 🙂
Anonymous · October 31, 2022 at 12:55 pm
These are perfect thank you so much!