A common question I get from parents of children who are starting preschool – or going to start preschool is “How can I keep my child from throwing up after an early breakfast?”
Since it is such a common question – I am sharing the answer here.
Sharing the question I was asked on this topic by a parent who wishes to remain anonymous
My kid is 5 years old and from next year she has to be in school by 8 so I am trying to make a routine of finishing breakfast by 7:15. I do want to avoid sending my child to school on an empty stomach or only with milk but my efforts are going in vain. My daughter refuses to eat anything at that hour and if I insist and make her eat she simply throws up. What should I do
She eats the same breakfast, sandwich or rice item like dosa idly at 9 with no complaints, however, before 8 she says it’s too much to eat. Apparently, the school snack break is at 10. So till 10 in the morning only milk and milkshakes don’t seem to be an ideal breakfast for children. Is there any method to make my child eat breakfast early in the morning. Can you please let me know what option do I have?
My answer –
Yes going to school on an empty stomach is a very bad idea. When a child goes to school without a healthy wholesome breakfast – it severely compromises learning. The brain has no fuel to run on and so it shuts down and the child learns nothing. In addition the child is irritable because of hunger and is also likely to fall sick more often because her/his immune system cannot work without food.
Going to school on just a glass of milk is not acceptable either because any food in liquid form will provide a very short-lived bout of energy. So your child may look very perked up and happy and active when she leaves the house – because the milk/milkshake has just started to give out energy. But by the time your child reaches school and actually starts learning – all the energy from the milk is likely to exhausted. On a liquid breakfast therefore – like you have rightly pointed out – your child will not be able to last out until break time at 10 am.
It is commendable that you are trying to get your daughter used to eating an early breakfast much before she actually needs to. This is the best plan because hunger is a reflex and when you get your child used to eating at a certain time – your child will start feeling hungry at that time in a few weeks. And this will make it much easier when she begins school because she will eat her breakfast very quickly if she is hungry.
If your child is unable to eat breakfast early – yes you will have to look at the reasons that are keeping her from eating at that hour. And the reason she is throwing up if she eats so early.
- Focus on getting your child enough sleep
One of the first things you need to ensure is that your daughter has enough sleep. A child her age needs to sleep for more than 10 hours every night. Without enough sleep she is likely to have a revolting stomach that will refuse to keep food down.
- Let your child have an early dinner
As a corollary to the sleep – your child must have had her dinner at least 12 hours before she has breakfast. A late dinner will not get completely digested by morning and the remnants of food in her gut will not allow her to feel hungry.
- Wake your child up early
You must also realize that the breakfast is early for your daughter because she is waking up late. So if she is waking up at 6:30am and is able to eat by 9am – it means that she needs about two hours to feel hungry after waking up. So – try to wake her up earlier.
- Ensure that your child moves and empties her bowels before breakfast
One of the most important things to understand is that your daughter will feel hungry and be able to keep down the food she is eating for breakfast if she has cleared out the remains of the previous day’s meal. Which means that she must have gone to the toilet and moved her bowels.
So – if you want your child to eat a healthy wholesome breakfast before going to school – ensure that she has had dinner at least 12 hours before breakfast, has slept more than 10 hours at night. Has woken up at least 2 hours before breakfast and has gone to the toilet and moved her bowels.
Read answers to other common parenting questions