a letter to my 3-year-old: your mealtime mannerisms

three-year-oldAt mealtime, you *always* ask to help me - no matter who is here or what you are doing. You'll come running out to the kitchen and you'll climb up into your Learning Tower (which is a great investment, by the way). You like to stir and pour and measure. Of course, you like to taste test too - which I usually let you do.

You also set the table all by yourself now. You put a blue kids placemat, a plastic plate and a spoon (you're not a fan of forks) at your spot. Then, you carry the big, white ceramic plates over for me and your dad...with such care.

When we ask you if you want milk or water (or, sometimes, lemonade), you usually choose milk. We give you organic, whole milk. None of that 1%, 2%, or skim stuff. Every once in awhile, however, you choose lemonade ("with water in it" - we dilute our lemonade around here).

If we serve any of the following foods, you are bound to be excited: noodles, blueberries, cherry tomatoes, grapes, cheese, whipped cream, chocolate, fruit leathers, peanut butter balls, ice cream, broccoli, sandwiches, foods that are "kid-sized," foods that are new, or foods that have fun shapes.

If we serve carrots, however, you usually take them off your plate and place them on my plate and say "for you...I give my carrots to you!" You say it so nicely, so excitedly. I (almost) buy into it.

You decided you were tired of your booster seat several months ago and, instead, opted to sit on your knees on the big chairs. Then, we were sent a green KABOOST Portable Chair Booster to review and you absolutely love it (and so do we). It boosts you up to just the right height so that you can reach your food and be a part of the conversation.

When we pray, you fold your hands and say "Dear God, thank you for this food and thank you that other kids not get hurt. Amen." Your prayers are the sweetest. That said, I think you get confused when other people are asked to pray instead of you and sometimes you start praying loudly right when another person starts praying. We need to work on that.

My husband and I need to decide if we're going to teach you to say "May I be excused from the table?" after each meal. Because we definitely haven't taught you that yet. So, if people think you are unmannerly because you get up when you are done without asking permission, that is 100% our fault.


fabkins cloth napkins for kids beach boundFabkins ($19.95/set of four) - "Everyday cloth napkins for kids" - are cloth napkins designed specifically with kids in mind. The napkins come in sets of four and are available in eight different themes - ballerina, beach bound, xtreme sports, etc. They are perfectly sized for kids laps and lunchboxes - and parents can easily swap out traditional napkins and paper towels for this greener and more creative alternative.

kaboost portable booster chair greenKABOOST Portable Booster Chair ($37.95) - "Little kids sit like big kids" - is designed for kids between 20 months and 6 years. The KABOOST snaps on any 4-legged chair in seconds (really!) and can easily be moved from chair to chair. It's also exceptionally easy to take on vacation, to friends' houses, to grandma's house, etc. Speaking of grandma's house, grandparents are bound to love this handy, easy-to-use kitchen accessory because it's easy to take on and off - and it blends nicely with a variety of home decors. In fact, the KABOOST comes in four different colors to ensure that it won't be an eyesore in your home - green, chocolate, natural, and charcoal.

YOUR TURN: What foods do your kids like/dislike? Do you require that your kids ask to be excused from the table at the end of each meal?

WIN IT! One winner will receive a set of Fabkins napkins ($19.95) and a green KABOOST Portable Chair Booster ($37.95). To enter, leave a comment stating what Fabkins set you would choose AND answer one of the above "your turn" questions. The deadline for this contest is Wednesday, September 9th at 11:59 p.m. (Don’t forget to follow the rules…all generic comments like “Enter me!,” “Love it,” and “Cool stuff!” will be disqualified.).

*UPDATE* The winner is #13 Jill J. Congratulations!

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81 comments on “a letter to my 3-year-old: your mealtime mannerisms”

  1. The Garden Friends are my favorite.
    What foods do your kids like/dislike?
    Pizza, pasta, honeycrisp apples (like)
    Eggplant, minted zucchini (dislike)
    Do you require that your kids ask to be excused from the table at the end of each meal?

  2. I think the garden friends set is the cutest.
    My kids both hate tomatoes. I can't see how anyone could not like them. I've always thought they were switched at birth because my husband and I both love tomatoes.

  3. My son likes the usual things kids love--macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets, peanut butter and jelly.
    I would pick the Flower Power Fabkins.
    Thank you for the contest!

  4. we insist the children ask to be excused from the table before leaving, we like to sit down during meal time altogether.

    i like the sports fan fabkins

  5. My nieces are very different from each other. The oldest is very picky and eats from a small variety of foods (I worry that she doesn't eat many veggies) and the youngest eats almost everything she sees. They both adore yogurt and kefir especially with a few colored sprinkles on top.

    The youngest loves to eat frozen peas, edemame, and blueberries, and any other small frozen veggies.

    We haven't taught "may I be excused" and haven't really thought about it. Maybe we will try it and see how it goes.

    We'd love the ballerina or the garden friends set.

  6. I like the fruit salad.

    I don't have kids yet, but my nieces and nephews have to ask to be excused. I plan on requiring that of my own kids, too, when I have them!

  7. So far my son's been a good eater. He loves strawberries & mangoes. He dislikes applesauce & peas...but he'll still eat it. He just won't open his mouth wide for them and he'll be very slow in swallowing the food. He's too young to teach him how to say he wants to be excused from the table, we'll work on it when the time comes!

    I like the cute African Safari fabkins. Fun animals!

  8. Well I would have to choose the safari fabkins to go with all of Dash's wild animal things>> his manors are fabulous and always asked to be excused>> it's an older parent thing I think>> he's a perfect person>> is that bragging?

    Thank you for the chance to win

  9. My kids love peanut butter sandwiches and mac & cheese! My little guy eats fruits and veggies well, but my daughter doesn't even want most of those on her plate!

    It hadn't crossed my mind recently to have my kids asked to be excused. We're working on my daughter saying "May I" instead of "I want", so teaching her "May I be excused?" would probably be a great thing right now! ;-)

  10. I would have to go with the Sports Fan or African Safari Fabkins. I'm nice, so I'd let DH decide between those two ;)

    Both of my nephews really likes hotdogs. Thats always what they want while I'm babysitting. Our first baby is on the way (only 2 more months!!) so who knows what likes and dislikes he'll have. So far, he seems to love any kind of meat and hate asparigus and popcorn.

    Thanks for the contest!

  11. I would pick the african safari fabkins. Yes, i would require my kids to be execused from the table. Its always great to teach your kids mannors and it starts at home.

  12. I think I'd choose African Safari but love Beach bound too!

    I'll answer both, I think when my two year old is older yes - definitely will ask him to ask to be excused. My little one has strange food aversions, he generally won't eat white food - the color white. He won't eat food mixed together and he doesn't like red meat.

  13. The design I like is the Sports Fan. To answer your question, yes, my daughter asks for permission to leave the table. She a teenager now and the phone rings constantly. She wants to jump up and get the phone. We turn off the ringer and enjoy our meal together, which I think is really important for teens. When dinner is over she can check voice mail.

  14. I like the Garden Friends design.
    I have been blessed with a child that will eat ALMOST anything that is put in front of her. She eats green beans, asparagus, sushi, tofu, turnip greens, shrimp, avocado--brussel sprouts are the only things I can think of she won't eat, and she has even tried them, but has not developed a taste for them yet. I don't blame her. I think they are nasty too :)

  15. I would choose the African Safari Fabkins, and I suppose once upon a time we did enforce that the kids needed to ask to be excused, because they always do so...but they are older (21, 16, and 10). Now we have a toddler and we'll ensure he asks to be excused; it's just a nice courtesy that does not take long to do, and is appreciated (aren't manners always?). Thank you.

  16. 1. I would choose the Garden Friends Fabkins.

    2. I don't require them to ask to be excused. Usually, I'm the one waiting around for them to finish the meal.

  17. The African Safari Fabkins are very very cute, but I also like the Garden Friends ones!

    As for food, I'm lucky that they're not very picky! They almost never complain, the only way I can tell if they really don't like a food is if they just eat way slower, and are 'full' very quickly.

    I would love to win!

  18. My kids were anti vegie for a time. I quickly figured out that if I had trays of raw vegies ready before I started making dinner everyone was happier. They still love raw vegies now.

  19. We do have the girls (4 and 6) ask to be excused from the table and as long as it is not a mess waiting to happen they have to clear their plate or cup to the kitchen. We only just started having our 4 year old do this. We started our oldest daughter when she was almost 5

  20. What a sweet prayer from your little one. My 3 year old sings a song 'thank you Jesus for our food (repeated 3 times)then in a high pitch voice finsihes the prayer with Thank you Jesus. LOL!!! She also decided the booster seat is not for her and seats on her knees. She loves mac and cheese, steak (and she will let you know if you try to give her hamburger steak instead of the real thing) potatoes, spaghetti, ice cream, and grapes.
    My 18 month loves green beans, corn on the cobb, peaches, and milk.
    Never thought about having them to ask to leave the table. My 3 year old does but she says "can i be done now?' and my 18 month old just started saying done while heading me her plate. I am teaching both girls to carry thier plates to the sink and to help set the table and clean it up.

  21. my youngest kids were served everything, so they like most everything. unfortunately I didn't do that with my older kids, so they're more picky than I would like. I recommend you have her ask to be excused, because when they get bigger they eat as fast as possible and then run back outside to play. I make my kids sit at the table for a while to spend more family time before playing again. :)

  22. I like the African Safari Fabkins, the animals look so happy to be there.

    My almost-3-year-old loves noodles. Plain with parmesan cheese. I think she could eat them at every meal if we let her. That and yogurt. Somehow yogurt has gotten elevated to dessert status though, and it gets used as a "if you're a good girl, you can have a YOGURT..." I'm not sure how that happened but I'm happy with it.

  23. My 3 year old daughter always has funny prayers! Even at bedtime she has to thank God for her food and then say "amen for..." aka thank you for. She usually thanks God for her family along with the windows, dollhouse, and babies. =)

    I haven't really worked with her on asking to be excused yet, but that is definitly in the works.

    The brown kaboost would be so perfect for us! As would the prima ballerina napkins..."because they are PINK!" as my daughter would say!

  24. At the dinner table, we do ask our kids to ask to be excused. They are 3 and 2, so we have grace.....but we are working on their manners!
    My kids love all kid food, of course (chicken nuggets, etc). But they also LOVE green beans. I make them taste yummy from the oven. The funny thing is the do not really like mac n cheese.

    I would pick the Beach Bound napkins. So adorable!!

    Thanks for the fabulous giveaway. This is perfect for my daughter who refuses to use a high chair but needs a boost!!!

  25. wow! i am all over that booster chair!!! my 4 year old is so ready to be out of his seat but just can't quite manage to sit properly without it!
    And i think i fell in love with the "Garden Friends" napkins. they are soo sweet. i think my daughter would like those.
    my kids are vultures! they will eat pretty much anything so long as it isn't spicy. i think one of their favorites is muscles dipped in that garlic butter sauce. Yumm.
    we don't make them ask to get done. but we do ask them to tell us when they are done so that their hands can be wiped first. we do however make them wait until either my husband or I are getting up from the table next.

  26. My kids are not huge fan of viegies, but love fruit! we like the african safari set. We dont do the excused form the table as ds is a slow eater and is always done after everyone else.

  27. I like the beach bound set. My 7 yr old grandddaughter will not eat bread of any kind. She has been telling us since she was3 that she is allergic to eat and cannot it it. LOL My grandson will not eat pasta no matter how we cook it.

  28. My tot loves green beans, broccoli, Raw onions!, chicken and rice and of course chocolate and icecream. She is not a big fan of milk... We are working on that!

  29. I think the "prima ballerina" fabkins are cute. My toddler daughter eats good and almost anything when she is really hungry, if she had a snack and is not to hungry she will be very fusy and picky. She loves cheese, waffles, eggs, blueberries, grapes, prunes. She dislikes most meats that are to chewy.

  30. Besides the standard veggies, my son likes some of the more unusual ones, like lima beans and brussel sprouts. He hates blackberries and raspberries; I'm sure its the texture.
    We haven't started the "may I be excused yet", but now that you brought it up, I may try it.

  31. I like the African safari fabkins. My son absolutely dislikes potatoes or anything with potatoes in it. He doesn't get excused from the table yet because he's only two and just gets down when he's done. Although, we've been working on it.

  32. I love the garden friends napkins. So cute. My kids like to eat italian foods and asian foods. They love penne noodles with whatever sauce, pad thai, orange chicken, fried rice and egg rolls. We do make them ask to be excused before they can get up and they have to move their plates, silverware and cup to the sink (everyone except the baby who is buckled in her highchair).

  33. I like the African animals Fabkins. They would be great for my toddler girls or my step son.

    What foods do your kids like/dislike? My daughters like all food, my step son only likes a few foods. Let me change that, he only will eat a few foods because his parents have catered to him.

    I don't, an hence, he eats everything my daughters do. He's doing better.... a lot better! For a 5 year old only weighing 35 pounds, I get worried about him, so I am happy he is finally eating!

  34. I don't require my kids to ask to be excused anymore, due to my own laziness. I do require them to finish their food and otherwise behave themselves. The 5yo has to clear the table each night.

    Fortunately, there aren't a lot of likes/dislikes around here. You eat what you're given, or you'll be hungry, so my kids eat without complaining.

    We'd want the African Safari napkins, since most of the other ones seem pretty gender specific.

  35. I cannot say what foods my children (age 4 and 17 months) either like OR dislike, as it varies from day to day. One day my son will be wild about cauliflower, then the next day he'll say "I don't want to eat that...it makes me kind of nervous" :) My daughter once refused to eat anything but cheese for an entire day...yet the next day wouldn't eat cheese. (wonder why!?!?) I will say that knowing my kids tummies are full from a balanced, healthy meal makes this mama pretty happy!

    I LOVE the garden friends fabric napkins for the vain reason that they match my turquoise and brown dishes (which by the way, look FABULOUS with my son's plastic Hotwheels placemats...hey, when you ask your 4 year to set the table you just go with it!)

  36. My daughter pretty much will eat anything. Some of her favorites are actually things that we don't typically make, but her auntie does. It's kind of funny! We have not been teaching her to ask to be excused, but I think that is a really good idea as she has been screaming "I'm done!" lately when she is finished.

  37. I absolutely love pasta but neither of my kids are big fans of it. Crazy! We try to get creative and make names for foods that the kids may not like. Example: Broccoli we called trees and they love it now. Or if I let them help make it they are all about eating it! No, we do not require our kids to ask to be excused. I do think it's a good idea though and we don't get up unless everyone is finished.

  38. My boys are pretty good eaters - they even like veggies! I can't seem to get them to eat much broccoli, though, unless it's in pizza or smothered with cheese. Overall, I can't really complain. They're open to new foods and (like me) will try anything once.

  39. I like the Garden Friends Fabkins and my little one will eat anything and everything. She especially loves black olives!


  40. I like the african safari set of fabkins. My son loves goldfish. I don't require my son to excuse himself. We tend to finish around the same time. Thanks for the chance.

  41. I would choose the Fabrikins Garden Friends...although all the styles are very cute! Currently we don't have our daughter ask to be excused at the end of each meal - most of the time she finishes before my husband and I do. It is something that we need to start doing though in the near future.

  42. well my son could eat just about anything i give him, for a 2 yr old i figured that was pretty good. the one thing he absolutely hates is tomatoes. which i kinda think is weird considering his favorite food in the world is pizza. as for the napkins, i would get the fabkins african safari napkins!

  43. I absolutely love the letters you write to your kids/husband/self, thank you for sharing them with everyone. I have a long way to go in teaching my son to ask to be excused. I suppose I could be setting up the routine now but I just haven't even thought of it.
    As for the napkins, I like the fruit set.

  44. i like the ballerina set.

    My kids like almost everything. A couple things they don't like are brussel sprouts and olives. There are things they don't especially care for but those two are things that actually make them gag trying to eat them.

  45. Oh, yes meal time! My kids are all different. My oldest is so picky but will eat so much of what she does like, I think she is going to explode, then my son he likes a lot, but tends to like the not so good for you foods a lot better than anything else. My next child will eat anything you give her and my baby loves her veges!! I is so much fun to watch how they are all different. And no we do not have them excuse themselves, but we should!

  46. My oldest two sons will (and do) eat anything. My youngest is not so compliant. He prefers bananas and toast right now but I'm trying hard to get him to keep eating vegetables with the rest of us. I like the Sports Fan Fabkins design best. Thanks!

  47. My girls just tend to wait and stay with us at the table, when we are at home. If we are over at someone's else's house I try to have them ask mainly so that the hostess knows they are finished. My oldest girl is not a big dessert eater. She loves plain vanilla ice cream and chocolate chip cookies. That's about it!! I'm very lucky in that respect. My youngest is not a big fan of tomatoes! She recently tried a small grape tomato and said it wasn't bad. She's usually pretty good about trying things every so often to see if her tastes have changed!!
    I love the Fabkin's Garden Friends set...too cute! Thanks for the great giveaway!

  48. Hello, Actually, we do not have our children ask to be excused from the dinner table. Most nights, they do sit at the table until everyone is done eating. If they really need to get up, they will ask if it is okay? I would choose the "Beach Bound"
    Fabkins for our table. Many thanks to you.....Cindi

  49. I like the beach bound and African safari set. I will make my daughter as to be excused once she is old enough. So far she has pretty good eating habits. Meaning she eats most anything you put in front of her. When she is done she tends to get a little distructive by shoving the food all around her tray. It will be so nice when she can join us at the table with a booster and learn good table manners.

  50. We do not require our son to asked to be excused from the table. But he still sits in his booster seat. He likes buckling the buckles and snapping on the tray himself. I like it because it keeps him contained when I get dinner out of a hot oven. But he does sit in his chair quite nicely until dinner is finished and he's been washed off. So for us, it works.

  51. Levi's a little young for "may I be excused?". Honestly, I think I'll skip it. He currently just says "down, down." Then I help him out of his chair. He ditched high chairs and boosters from the get go, and preferred my lap or his own chair. As far as favorite foods go...salsa (spicy), spaghetti, chili, blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries. Blue and red seem to be the theme for him. :)

  52. I like the Garden Friends set. I have a much easier time getting my 2 year old to eat her fruits and veggies than anything else! She doesn't like meat much. But if we have fresh veggies and dip... she is all over it.

  53. Seeing as how my daughter watched me look at the website for the booster system, and said, "We should get one of those!", I feel I am required to participate in the contest. But eagerly required! We're just starting the switch to cloth napkins over here, and it sure would be fun to have some kid-friendly napkins. And I have a 4 year old who still sits on his knees for meals, and I am POSITIVE he'd enjoy being boosted up. We don't require our kids to ask permission to leave the table, but lately, I've been thinking I should. It drives me crazy when we're in the middle of a conversation, someone decides they're done, and just hops down... and we don't notice until they're happily playing and definitely not willing to come back and try again. Luckily, my 1-year-old is buckled in and has to ask to get down. ;) I love watching him wave his arms and say "gah goh" (all done), and "dow!" (down) while pointing down.

  54. Those napkins are too cute! I would totally choose the Ocean Bound ones! Yes I make my children ask to be excused. They don't usually say those words. They usually ask me if they can be all done and go play or the younger ones give me the all done in sign language!!!!

  55. I like the extreme sports set! My kids are different. The oldest eats raw veggies only, loves HOT things (he puts hot sauce on things that aren't hot enough), and only drinks water (and OJ at b'fast). The almost 2 yr old loves fruit, very few veggies, spaghetti, and will only drink water. (The boys drink water mainly bc they aren't given the option to drink anything else!) We remind our kids to ask to be excused when we are eating at someone else's house, but are inconsistent on that at home.

  56. I love her prayers :) I think my kiddo thinks praying means listing all the stuff you're glad you have :) The other day he prayed for Captain Hog and his Lightning McQueen bed lol.

    I'd get the sports fan Fabkins. And, no, we don't require him to ask to be excused. But, like you, we've been feeling like we need to institute that rule.

  57. My 2-year-old is a great eater. She loves fruits and nearly all vegetables. Although last night she refused to eat her "sparkly" (broccoli) because she said it was spicy. Her favorite meats are pork and shrimp. Unlike most kids her age, she's not a big fan of starchy foods like rice and potatoes.

    Now that we're introducing solid foods to the baby, he seems like he's going to be pickier, so I may have to fight the picky eater battle soon.

  58. I like the fruit salad napkins! My little girl loves chicken but thats about it...shes very picky! Shes not old enough for the "being excused" but we will be practicing that when she gets old enough!

  59. My little one is not picky, eats just about anythning but doesn't like broccoli. She isn't at the stage of asking to be excused yet.

  60. I'm pretty lucky in that my kids are not very picky when it comes to eating. They will eat almost anything. When he was younger my son refused to eat anything in tomato sauce. He's still not a big fan of it but he will eat it. They LOVE veggies. At parties when other kids are grabbing chips and cheese curls my kids run for the veggie tray. They can't get enough carrots, cucumbers and broccoli. We do make my 6 yr old ask to be excused but my 4 yr old hasn't quite gotten the hang of that yet.

  61. I like the "fruit salad" Fabkins. Nice and neutral. What a great idea!

    My oldest daughter always brought a smile at the grocery store when she was overheard (at 2 and 3 years old) asking (excitedly) for some fresh broccoli. That's her favorite. :)

  62. What cute napkins! I would have to choose the sports fan napkins. These are so cute. My little boy doesn't ask to be excused, but we all usually stay sitting at the table until everyone is finished (he is still to young to ask to be excused). He has turned into such a picky eater lately he went from eating anything we gave him to some days eating nothing. But he does love bananas and most fruits except strawberries(which breaks my heart). And he will eat a few vegetables. We still put everything he won't eat on his plate if that is what we are eating so he can try it if he wants.

  63. Luckily, my son is not a very picky eater. His favourite foods are peas, broccoli and any type of fruit. He isn't all that fond of meat but we can usually get him to eat some. Potatoes are probably his least favourite. We are trying to teach him to ask politely to be excused from the table; it works inconsistently at the moment.

  64. I like the "garden friends" set. My little one is too young to do the "may I be excused?" yet and I don't know if we'll do it...we'll see. Her favorites are steamed kale, avocado, grapes, roasted sweet potatoes, steamed carrots, steamed peas, apples, and plums. She's a great little vegan eater! :)

  65. My son ate green beans for the first time at Grandma's house when he was 3. He had a horrible flu at the time and (not because of the green beans) promptly threw up later that night, for most of the night. He still to this day refuses to eat green beans beacause they make him throw up...he's 9 now. My youngest, if you call it pizza, he'll eat it. Funny how kids are so different?!

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