Have you been wondering how to choose the best, healthy cereal for kids and toddlers? Well good news– I’ve got you covered! Today I’m walking you through what to look for (and what to avoid) in healthy cereals for your kids, plus I’m sharing a free download that will save your sanity in the grocery store!
How To Choose A Healthy Cereal for Kids
The biggest consideration when it comes to choosing healthy cereal for kids is the sugar content. The lower the added sugar, the better! And even though that sounds like a simple thing to look out for, really good marketing tactics and tricky code names for sugar make it pretty hard to identify a truly good choice.
Add to that the fact that your toddler is probably tugging at your pant leg and throwing pop tarts in your cart as you try and read the labels, and all of a sudden this simple grocery decision isn’t so simple anymore!
Introducing the Ultimate Guide to Low Sugar Cereal for Kids!
This Ultimate Guide to Low Sugar Cereal for Kids is the key to easy AND healthy mornings! Plus, it’s a FREE download for you guys.
I created this guide because I know mornings are so chaotic, and getting everyone fed is a challenge. We moms need to get everyone out of bed, dressed, fed, and ready for the day – and there never seems to be enough time to do it all. Cereal often comes to the rescue for quick and easy morning fuel, but it can leave you worrying that your little ones are getting too much sugar to start off the day.
But guess what? You actually CAN rely on cereal for busy mornings! You just need to know the right ones to buy.
I know it can be really frustrating standing in the cereal aisle with a thousand options, while your toddler is whining for something to eat, or even worse, running down the aisle pulling boxes off the shelf all along the way. And, a lot of the cereals that LOOK healthy from the front (i.e., organic, non-GMO, “whole wheat,” “bran,” or “gluten-free”) can still be secretly loaded with sugar.
Here’s an example of those tricky marketing strategies I mentioned:
Why Healthy Looking Packages Can’t Be Trusted
Have you seen Annie’s Cinnabunnies?
From the front of the box, you see that they are gluten-free, organic, non-GMO, and “made with goodness.” And Annie’s has a reputation for being natural and healthy. So this looks good, right?
Here’s the trick: they actually have more sugar per cup than Froot Loops! Yikes!
One cup of Annie’s Cinnabunnies has 12 grams of sugar added, which is basically the same as dumping 3 teaspoons of sugar on your kid’s food.
And remember, that’s just in one cup! Kids can easily knock back at least two times that amount in one sitting.
Of course, it’s still good to avoid the artificial colors in products like Froot Loops, so I’m not suggesting you buy those instead. But, it just goes to show you that the front of the package doesn’t tell you anything about the sugar content.
How to Make Cereal a Healthy Breakfast Option for Kids and Toddlers
I looked at hundreds of cereals to find all of the lowest sugar options for you as I put together my guide, and as it turns out, there actually are a LOT of healthy cereal for kids out there!
Many boxed cereals actually do have a much lower sugar content and make a great choice for breakfast. Start with one of the great options in my guide, and use one or two of the serving tricks below, and you’ll have a really simple, healthy breakfast option that takes no time at all.
Here is how to serve cereal in a healthier way:
Serve it with milk to increase protein
Okay, this is kind of obvious, since most kids do eat cereal in milk. But if your child sometimes snacks on dry cereal for breakfast, adding in milk will make it a better meal for them.
For your younger toddlers who haven’t quite figured out the spoon-to-mouth instead of spoon-to-floor thing, try offering milk in a cup on the side. Or, you can lightly cover the cereal with milk to soften it. This way, they can still eat it with their hands, but there won’t be a ton of milk spilling around.
Serve it with a milk alternative
If the milk and bowl option just won’t fly, or you’re looking for a little variety for your toddler, try serving yogurt with cereal on top. Or, switch things up with a non-dairy milk or yogurt option. (Just check to make sure your non-dairy choice has a few grams of protein, because many of them do not!)
Make a breakfast trail mix
If you don’t have time to sit down for breakfast, pour some of their favorite healthy cereal into a snack cup with raisins and sliced or chopped nuts. This adds more calories, fat, and protein, and will keep them fuller for longer.
Serve it with fruit
Fruit is just as easy to grab as cereal, and it adds vitamins, minerals and fiber. You can serve in on the side, or mix it in to add more of the sweet taste that your little one loves without any added sugar.
What If My Kid Already Loooves the Sugary Stuff?
A lot of moms are nervous to shift away from the cereal their kids already like, towards a more healthy cereal for kids. They’re worried that their kid won’t like the new kind, and that they will throw a fit. (Gosh, kids are so easy to deal with sometimes, ha!)
If your toddler is young, or still a baby, you are in the easiest position because they likely have not tried the sugary stuff yet. That means you can get them used to the non-sweet kind, and they will probably be very happy with that.
If your kid is a bit older, and has tried some of the sweeter kinds, they might push back a little bit when you decide to switch to lower-sugar. Here are some ways to make the transition easier.
Mix the sugary version with the non-sugary version
Try mixing up a bowl of half Honey Nut Cheerios (12g sugar) with half Original Cheerios (1g sugar)
Dust some powdered sugar on top of unsweetened cereal
Shredded Wheat has 0g of added sugar, but with a few shakes of powdered sugar on top, it becomes just like Frosted Mini Wheats! By adding your own sugar, you’ll only end up with 2 or 3 grams vs. the 11g you’r child would’ve consumed in the pre-sweetened Frosted Mini Wheats.
Add fruit on top
Fresh fruit and dried options, like raisins, help add sweetness without any added sugar.
Are you ready to make your mornings a little easier by serving healthy cereal for your kids? Download the Guide HERE!
Every cereal in this guide has 6 grams of sugar or less per serving. I recommend going with the lowest sugar added that your kid will still eat!
Most of the cereals on the list are not specifically “kid” cereals, and that’s because most kid cereals have more sugar in them than cereal marketed to adults. That’s messed up! Our kids do not need any more sugar than we do.
The Guide separates organic vs. non-organic options, and lists out products by brand. I also tried to list them in order from lowest sugar to highest.
There are gluten-free options on here, but I didn’t call them out, and I’m sorry! I only remembered about halfway through my search to denote the gluten-free options. So yes they are on there, you’ll just need to check labels to find them.