I love Honey Nut Cheerios. It’s important to get that out there because I’m not bashing HNC per se. Indeed, I indulge each time I visit my brother. He tends to keep the pantry stocked with them. (Or, it just occurred to me, maybe my brother buys HNC just for me?)

Do Honey Nut Cheerios turn toddlers into picky eaters?

  1. Parents introduce original Cheerios because they are a great starter food.
  2. Kids eat Cheerios happily for a couple of months or a year.
  3. One day, parents think, “Hey, Tommy loves Cheerios. But I bet they’re a bit boring. I bet he’d like Honey Nut Cheerios. They taste better.”
  4. Tommy LOVES the sweeter cereal. Original Cheerios are history. Then, so are other unsweetened foods.

Honey Nut Cheerios start kids down the sweet-foods path. And we parents do it to them.

The problem with most Child-Friendly Foods. They shape taste preferences in the wrong direction.

OK, the link might not be that direct. And, no, we can’t really blame HNC for picky eating.

No child ever asked their parents to buy Honey Nut Cheerios at the age parents typically make the switch from plain to sweet. This is something we do to/for our children almost automatically when they reach a certain age/stage.

Plain (read, boring) foods are for infants.

Sweet (read, tasty) foods are for everyone else.

In other words, parents DO HNC to kids. Once kids get a taste of all that sweet, life changes.

Yes, some children are naturally picky. Some kids have sensory sensitivities. I’m not making light of those issues. But here’s my point: Parents shape taste preferences more than we think. And it’s important to think about flavor, the variety of flavors, of the foods we feed our children. It’s impossible to teach children to enjoy fruits and vegetables when their palates prefer sweet.

Honey Nut Cheerios has 9 times as much sugar as plain Cheerios per serving, according to The New York Times.

One trick General Mills uses to hide this fact: The serving size for original Cheerios is 1 cup. For Honey Nut Cheerios it’s 3/4 cup.

If your child is still eating original Cheerios, keep it that way. Make Honey Nut Cheerios a treat, like cookies.

If your child is attached to Honey Nut Cheerios, start mixing up the flavors you provide. Consider introducing The Rotation Rule.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~