Cocoa Puffs for Breakfast?

Updated on July 25, 2016
R.W. asks from Flushing, NY
27 answers

I usually give my daughter plain cheerios with milk every morning for breakfast. Last week my daughter asked for cocoa puffs so my husband gave them to her for breakfast. I then gave them to her for a few mornings in a row, but then I told her that she needs to go back to eating cheerios because cocoa puffs seemed more like a dessert than a breakfast. My husband told me that growing up he had sugary cereals almost every day for breakfast and I shouldn't worry about it too much. Well, the rest of the week I gave my daughter plain cheerios for breakfast. This morning, however, I gave my daughter cocoa puffs. She hasn't been feeling well all weekend and fell asleep last night without eating dinner. This morning she was really hungry and I figured that the extra sugar would actually be good for her. Plus, if it were me and I hadn't eaten in a while, the last thing I would want was a bland food, especially if I was really hungry. Do any of you moms give your kids sugary cereals for breakfast? My husband thinks that it's more important that our daughter eats rather than worry about what she eats.

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answers from Philadelphia on

Extra (white) sugar is not good for anyone ever. I can understand not wanting to eat Cheerios since they are so bland but there are lots of great alternatives for breakfast. Ideally, people should be eating protein for breakfast anyway. How about serving her a banana or apple with a side of peanut butter. (My girls like the peanut butter spread on their banana.)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I never gave my kids cereal for breakfast. They always had eggs or French toast or pancakes or last night's pizza....

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Yes, they have sugar on them. They also have essential vitamins and other nutritious ingredients. SO they're not horrible.

Cheerios are about the same thing in my opinion.

We are allowed to give the kids cereal for breakfast in child care. If it was really as bad as all the mom's think it is they wouldn't let us give it to the kids. They'd put it on the list of things we can't serve. They can be part of a balanced meal. Add in some fruit to eat whether it's an apple or banana or pear or something else there are things that can round out the meal.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Portland on

This is the daughter with low iron? This is what I would do.

I'd go with a Multigrain Cheerios instead of regular kind - it has double the iron and doesn't taste that different (my kids will eat them).

Now compare Multigrain Cheerios to Cocoa Puffs for Iron and Vit B12 levels (both help anemia depending on what kind you have - I have both).

Multigrain Cheerios - iron: 62mg Vitamin B12: 21mcg

Cocoa Puffs - Iron: 15mg Vitamin B12: 5mcg

Do the Cocoa Puffs for treat :)

We keep those cereals for occasional weekend breakfast treats, kid sleepovers, etc.

ETA - updated the number oops. If my kid had chronic anemia, I'd just up iron wherever possible. Easy to make small changes. And lots of different ones to choose from (iron rich) for variety.

I read some of the moms' responses. Hadn't dawned on me that you have the cocoa puffs in the house but your daughter doesn't eat them. That is kind of funny :)

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

We grew up eating Captain Crunch and an assortment of other sugar laden cereals.
I tasted it again later on as an adult and it was awful - it is like pouring milk over a candy bar.
(How many people our age are dealing with diabetes and weight issues? I'm thinking it's not as harmless as we'd like to think it is.)
We avoided doing that with our son.
He likes Cheerios, Wheaties and Fiber One - and he has them with milk only - no sugar added to it.
My Mom sent us a Granola cereal and our son tried it - he said it was too sweet.
I feel like we've broken out of a generational sugar addiction cycle!
If a kid needs something quick to eat in the morning get some protein into them.
I can have a sunny side up egg on toast ready in 10 min.
Oat bran takes a little longer to cook up but that with a dollop of nut butter on it will keep you from getting hungry again for a very long time.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I think educating yourself on *why* sugar should be carefully considered is a good idea. Typically, when our son isn't feeling well, we are careful about sugar, mainly because bacteria and viruses thrive on it. That said, it isn't a terrible thing. We buy products made with sugar instead of aspartame or other artificial sweeteners which are known to have far worse/long term effects.

I have to disagree with 'it doesn't matter what they eat so long as they eat'. Unless there is a medical reason for this (extremely underweight child, etc), that's just setting a kid up to have carte blanche to indulge in some extremely unhealthy eating habits. We practice balance in our household when it comes to food. I don't buy what I don't want my son to have. (He's 9) Each meal needs a protein on his plate (carbs are a given, he loves them) and we have him choose his veggies since he's a little picky in that area. Usually, one small treat a day is the standard; that said I will make fresh fruit smoothies (no added sugar) and freeze them in a popsicle mold, so that's a 'treat' to him-- he loves those and I can say yes to that easily as part of an afternoon snack. We also try to practice mindfulness in eating, so we do it at the table, not in front of the tv (a bowl of popcorn on the couch is fine, a meal, not so much). I think if a kid is not going to eat what you reasonably give them (something you know they've eaten readily before) they aren't hungry. They don't need sugar to 'coax' them to eat. That's a bad habit to get into.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

I do not buy sugary cereals, sodas, or most junk foods. So, to answer your question, no sugary cereals for our kids regularly. Breakfast in our house varies a fair bit. Sometimes I make whole-grain pancakes or waffles (do a large batch on the weekend, store in fridge, and we can eat them for several days), sometimes we have grits or oatmeal (plain oats, not the packets of high-sugar instant), sometimes I'll make muffins, oatmeal breakfast bars, or cornbread (whole-grain recipes again) and those last a couple days. I can make a batch of granola and that will last a while too. Our kids do like cold cereals, and their options there are Cheerios (plain, honey-nut, and multigrain). Sometimes we have eggs, and my daughter sometimes likes a smoothie (various fruits plus plain yogurt) or a parfait with the homemade granola, fruit, and plain yogurt. Whole grain bread and jam+peanut butter is another option. Yeah, my kids love the sweets when my husband brings them home, however they aren't the standard fare.

Not sure I buy your logic for choosing Cocoa Puffs this morning. If a kid is not feeling well, I would have gone for the plain cheerios. They're light and easy on the stomach. You want her to get energy from the food for a longer time, not a sugar rush which will then drop off suddenly and leave her low. I doubt she will take any harm from it, however you might want to learn more about how nutrition and the body work, as Diane B suggested.

From the start, I adopted the idea that it is easier (and better for everyone's long-term health+happiness) to just not bring junk foods into the house. I do think it's good not to make sugary treats, salty snacks, fat, or anything into the 'bad' forbidden foods, so we do buy them occasionally. It's a matter of what we make the typical diet. So your instinct to say that Cocoa Puffs is more like a dessert is a reasonable approach. Good luck with her eating and health in general (thinking about earlier posts)!

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I think banning foods is generally not a good idea. But one has to look at the whole picture.

However, I see posts from earlier this year about your daughter's virus, low hemoglobin and so on. And you seem to think that "cereal" is a balanced breakfast, so we're just discussing which cereal? I think your husband is way off about "just eat anything" - yes, maybe he ate sugary cereals, but was his diet full of other processed foods. I also think that suggesting that "extra sugar would actually be good for her" is way off (especially with a history of illness and low hemoglobin). What medical or nutritional info are you using to base that on?

Your child is not feeling well, she's not eating, and she's falling asleep early? She needs a lot more than sugar!

Have you seen the label on most cereals? There are 30-40 ingredients! And don't be misled by the "enriched flour" or added vitamins - those are just to replace a small portion of all the nutrients stripped out of the processed flour to begin with.

What proteins and healthy fats is your daughter eating as well, especially at breakfast and lunch (which fuel her for the most active part of her day)?

If you hadn't eaten in a while, the last thing you would want is bland food? I would think the hungry person would eat most anything. But it's important to offer a variety of flavors, textures, and nutrients.

Instead of Cheerios and Cocoa Puffs, how about oatmeal? Real, whole oats, which cook quickly. Add some cinnamon (not cinnamon-sugar) to give it a delicious flavor, and top with fruit and nuts. Add flax seeds or flax meal. How about whole grain pancakes with whole wheat flour, oatmeal, wheat germ or flax seeds, fruit, walnuts and more? Then put a little real maple syrup (which has some natural sugars but isn't a bit bottle of high fructose corn syrup) for a delicious treat? How about whole milk with a little Hershey's cocoa in it for a chocolate treat? How about a protein shake (but not one filled with chemicals)? I make a smoothie in my mini-blender every morning with a balanced protein supplement, fruit (I mix it up based on what's in season and I add in frozen fruits), yogurt, and water. There are a million ways to make something sweet and also healthy.

How about a side of scrambled eggs? You could add some cheddar cheese to that. Or make a fried egg and put it on an English muffin.

We did a lot of things as kids that weren't good ideas. The notion that "I turned out okay" doesn't fly, especially with kids have many more medical and food-related problems now than we did. Ask any elementary school teacher what she's facing in terms of health and energy in her students in 2016.

Please learn more about children's bodies and their nutritional needs. Take your husband in to see the pediatrician, and take a list of what your child ate for every meal that week. Discuss.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Kind of confused here. You have Cocoa Puffs in your house, you eat them, your husband eats them but your daughter has to eat plain Cheerios? You don't think there is something wrong with that?

I don't actually like cold cereal but I have no problem with my kids eating whatever they want. Sometimes that is Cheerios.

We eat fairly healthy here, all of us. I don't make my kids eat healthy while I eat Raman noodles. Kind of sends the wrong message.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

We do sugar cereals as an occasional snack.

Breakfast consists of protein: Greek yogurt, eggs, peanut butter, cheese, turkey bacon or sausage. Next we add whole grains: healthier low sugar cereals like Kashi, Grape Nuts Flakes, Multigrain or plain Cheerios, whole grain pancakes, waffles, English muffins or toast. Then veggies if making omelettes, and always fruit, such as bananas, berries, peaches, melon, etc.

I survived eating some junk foods as a kid, but I want better for my rapidly growing boy. I don't deprive him, but try to teach healthy choices, variety and moderation.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I see nothing wrong with occasional treats of Cocoa Puffs but I do believe sugar intake should be limited for everyone.

Good eating habits are established early on. My daughter now, 21, loved her share of sugary cereal and still does, BUT.... If offered a piece of fruit over sugary cereal or candy.... She will still to this day pick fruit.

You model the habits you want your children to have. If you model healthy eating habits which involves moderation then your child will too!

I never banned any food... We don't diet... We drink a ton of water, no soda and believe moderation with exercise is key.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on


If you have Coco Puffs in your house and your daughter hasn't eaten them before now - who eats them?

In MY house? We have all sorts of cereals. I would go crazy if I ONLY ate one cereal every day - I think I'd end up hating it. We have Rice Krispies, Coco Krispies, Wheaties, Cheerios, Honey Nut Cheerios, Capn' Crunch, Lucky Charms, Trix, Coco Puffs, Frosted Mini wheats, Mini wheats, Corn Flakes...the list goes on and on.... we love a variety of cereals.

So are you saying that the Coco Puffs made your daughter sick? What is your point? My kids are 14 and 16 and get a variety of foods. Breakfast is only one aspect of their diet. We have fresh fruits and many other things to eat. It's called moderation and a balanced diet.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I draw a line in the sand at 10g of sugar per serving. It still a lot, but it means that I buy cinnamon life, but not cocoa puffs. High sugar cereals don't even make it on to my shopping list - none of us, kids or parents, need to eat them, IMO. Of course, my kids aren't big cereal fans, so they only have it about once or twice a month. Most days they have scrambled eggs and pancakes (scrambled eggs whip up in 5-6 minutes, and I make big batches of pancakes and freeze them for quick microwaving in the morning) or eggs and bagels or eggs and waffles, or eggs and...(you get the idea).

In general though, I try not to get too hung up on "complete nutrition" in any one meal. I was told by the ped to look at the day as a whole, and if one meal isn't so great in terms of nutrition, make sure the other meals that day make up for it.

ETA: As for the "well I did it when I was a kid" - really? I rode without a car seat from birth, was put to sleep on my tummy with a pillow in my crib as an infant, and didn't wear a bike helmet when learning to ride a bike. But I wouldn't allow my kids to do any of those things now. Would you?

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I think it's fine in moderation. You can alternate between buying Cocoa Puffs and other cereals or breakfast foods. I would not make it a control issue. And I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that the Cocoa Puffs caused her to be not feeling well. That could be for so many reasons, you just can't know for sure. In our house, we just don't buy the sugar cereals so often they are always on hand. Sometimes the kids can pick out a box as a special treat if they come to the store with us. You can tell your daughter it's a "sometimes" breakfast, but the not best choice day after day.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Appleton on

I can't eat most cold cereals. When I have a bowl of cereal usually with fruit I am fine for about an hour or two then it's like my blood sugar drops and I get dizzy and lightheaded. I need to eat something right away. I am not diabetic but have many family members going back at least 3 generations who are. This means I can have diabetic tendencies and certain foods will effect me this way.Even without adding sugar the carbs in the cereal are recognized by the body as sugar.
You daughter would be much better off if you gave her a more healthy breakfast. I like protein for breakfast eggs with bacon or sausage, yogurt, cottage cheese with fruit are a much healthier choice than cereal.
The choice between Coco Puffs and Cherrios is a mote point they are all sugar. Look at the sodium content of cereals they are full of salt. We have been brainwashed to look at sugar as bad but not looking at the sodium levels in foods. Salt does a lot of damage to the body also. A person can become addicted to salt as well as sugar.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Are you saying you give your daughter the same cereal everyday and that is her breakfast? If so, why? First, breakfast needs to include protein and fruit to be balanced and provide long lasting energy. Second, having the same thing every morning is boring, leading to not wanting breakfast.

I have both non sugar and with sugar cereals in my cupboard. The with sugar is for my teen and friends. They frequently eat the sugared for a snack. I also have quick cooking oatmeal and muesli, eggs, nut butters, and fruit. For a special breakfast we have bacon or ham along with hash browns and eggs. Or pancakes, waffles with applesauce, bacon/ham, and/or eggs. We also make omelets.

When we have cereal, a couple times a week, we add fresh fruit and milk/nut milk.

Cottage cheese and fresh or canned fruit is good. I sometimes have a slice of cheddar cheese and an apple.

What does she eat the rest of the day? Does she get a healthy amount of nutrients , on average, for the week?

I urge you to ask her doctor for a referral to a dietician, so you know what a growing child and adult needs to be healthy, not only now but in the future. What we eat or do not eat affect or health as time goes by.

Sounds like your question asks if it's OK for your daughter to have Coca Puffs. Of course it is OK as long as she gets a variety of foods that meet her nutritional needs. Should she only eat cocoa puffs and/or Cheerios? No.

You indicate in your post that you and your husband disagree. Sounds like you want to "win." What we eat should never be an argument. When food becomes a source of unhappiness, our focus on food can become unhealty. Arguing about what is or is not healthy deflects us from finding healthy foods. You and your husband will have more success in feeding your daughter when you work together. The choice between Coca Puffs and Cheerios should not be based only on sugar content. What other nutrients do they contain? What is their fiber,content? Sounds like your daughter is saying she wants to try another cereal and she's asking for Coca Puffs. Perhaps your husband says it's better to eat Coca Puffs than not eating at all because your daughter is saying she won't eat Cheerios. If so, I agree.

I would consider the issue more about variety than which cereal has the least sugar. Is your child getting a breakfast that is nutritionally balanced? Does it provide enough energy to last 2-3 hours. How soon she gets hungry is a part of that.

I urge you to learn about nutritional needs and how to provide for them. You can learn by reading or by talking with a nutritionist. What's best is a combination of both.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Most cereals are not really good for breakfast foods. They are almost ALL loaded with empty carbs and practically no fiber or protein. With a very few exceptions (mostly things kids won't eat). Even the ones with fiber have a good bit of sugar.

Special K (the original one) has a bit of protein in eat, but even most of that comes from the milk consumed with it, if you actually read the label properly.

I honestly don't think there's all that much difference between Cheerios and Cocoa Puffs. I mean, sure there's *some*, but both are void of any real amount of fiber or protein. A toasted waffle with peanut butter on it would bet far better than either cereal choice.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Muncie on

Do the Cheerios have sugar added after they are poured in the bowl? I cannot eat them without it, can you? How did the Cocoa Puffs appear in the house? Who is eating them? I don't buy things that I will eat that I refuse to let my kids eat. The only exception are some things my son cannot have due to food allergies. Cereal is not a balanced breakfast alone. You need protein, fruit, etc.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

This is not a battle I would fight. I would be happy my kid was eating breakfast. However, I would add that there are some nutrients in the milk and I would have them eat an apple or banana with peanut butter on it or maybe some greek yogurt and/or cheese stick. Maybe vary the cereal also.

As long as you have a kid that will eat some fruits, veggies, meats and dairy during the day then I wouldn't freak out about this. But if they will only eat cocoa puffs for breakfast, mac n cheese for lunch and chicken nuggets for dinner, then there's a problem. JMO. Good luck.

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answers from Boston on

As a general rule, I don't really push cereal for breakfast anyway. It's kind of crappy food, even the "healthy" stuff - most if it has a lot more sugar than you think, and most non-organic cereal is made with things like GMO corn and other ingredients I try to avoid. I'd much prefer that my kids eat something with protein in it like an egg, or a smoothie, or a PB sandwich or something. That said, we do usually have a box of something in the cabinet for days when they do want a bowl of cereal. What's in the cabinet isn't cocoa puffs though.

Cocoa Puffs has 13 grams of sugar in it, which is a lot for a bowl of cereal.

If she really wants a change from Cheerios, maybe explore some of the healthier alternatives, or spice up the Cheerios by adding some sliced strawberries or a handful of raspberries or blueberries to the bowl. EnviroKids (in the organic aisle) has some kid-friendly alternatives to the commercial sugary cereals. While some of the cereals are high in sugar, there are ones like Peanut Butter Panda Puffs and Peanut Butter Chocolate Leaping Lemurs that have more modest amounts of sugar and are made with non-GMO corn and other ingredients that are higher quality than what you would find in a cereal from Kellogg's or General Mills.

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answers from Washington DC on

My kids eat whatever they want for breakfast. Sometimes it's sugary cereal, sometimes its eggs and toast, as long as they eat, I'm good. I don't go crazy over the things they eat, but rather teach them to make good choices, and that sometimes bad choices are necessary to stay on track. And actually, cereal isn't a healthy or good start to the day typically -no protein. If you want to go healthy, try things like yogurt, eggs, peanut butter, etc.

Don't fight this battle.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I was allowed sugary cereals on Saturday mornings as a treat. I did the same when my kids were little. Now they don't really care for them anymore and will usually choose something like Shreddies or Rice Krispies,

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answers from San Diego on

We buy Cocoa Puffs now and again along with a laundry list of other cereals. We usually pick up a few boxes of something or other when we go grocery shopping. Some are more sugary than others and we eat it until it's gone which means sometimes we eat it every day until it's gone (only a couple of days in our house). Honestly worrying about the sugar content of a cereal you eat every once in a while is such a "first world problem". If her diet is varied and relatively healthy all day, a bowl of cereal with a little bit more sugar isn't going to be the end of the world. How much syrup does the average person put on pancakes? That's not all that different. Have you ever looked at how much sugar is in the jelly or even the peanut butter on a PB&J sandwich? Again, not much different.
It's all about moderation and variety.

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answers from Chicago on

We do: Treat food, everyday food. Sugary food are treat food. Once a week, he can have a sugary food or a processed snack. But, just once a week. I think the difference between today's parents and today's kids, is that most parents didn't grow up surrounded by sugar, processed snack foods, and sugared colas. Your husband may have had sugared cereals for breakfast, but probably didn't have a stream of highly processed snacks and sugars during the day. Now, even our son's school gives the kids candy for Valentine's Day and special occasions.

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answers from San Francisco on

Everything (or most things) in moderation.

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answers from Honolulu on

Some people allow their kids to have a serving of a healthy, whole grain, low sugar cereal (Barbara's brand, Cascadian Farms, Kashi, or steel cut oats or other similar choices), and then allow the child to sprinkle on their favorite sugary neon-colored, chocolate-y, marshmallow-y on top, like you would sugar. The sugary stuff is just a topping, not the primary source of nutrition.

You could do the same with plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt. Let your daughter sprinkle Cocoa Puffs over it and stir it in.

You could also make your own oat milk or almond milk (the commercially prepared ones are often filled with carrageenan, additives, gums, and artificial sweeteners). It's extremely easy to make your own nut or oat milks. Just soak almonds or oats overnight, drain and rinse, blend in a blender with plenty of fresh water, and pour through cheesecloth or a purchased milk bag (it's like a strong cheesecloth bag that can be washed - super cheap on Amazon). There are plenty of recipes online. Oat milk is, to me, the best tasting. And oats are cheaper than nuts.

And yes, so much depends on the rest of your daughter's eating habits. How is the rest of her day? Lunch? Dinner? Do you rely on processed foods, or clean pure foods? If her meals are pure foods, not from packages or boxes or cans, then a little leeway on a cereal might be ok.

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answers from Chicago on

I wouldn't worry about it too much. My 5yo daughter is on a Coco Puffs kick. I think my son asked to try them when the kids were with me at the store, but he didn't care for them too much. Don't hold me to this, but I compared the nutrition of CP to Honey Nut Cheerios and it wasn't that different, even the Sugars. My oldest son (9yo) is not a breakfast eater, so If he asks for bread with Nutella, fine. At least it's whole-grain bread. He rarely eats cereal but will have Cinnamon Toast Crunch every now and then. Dinner leftovers or cold pizza? Sure. I'm sure you balance your daughter's diet over the course of the day.

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