Containerized Kids. This term scares me. It was coined by Jane Clark, a University of Maryland professor of kinesiology, and it describes the newest generation of babies and toddlers who are confined to a daily assortment of constricting spaces: strollers, bouncy seats, high chairs, bumbos, jumperoos, infant car seat carriers, and pack-and-plays. So not only are today’s kids missing out on nature, but they are being further boxed into their inside worlds.

Why do we have to do this? We live in vertical spaces with too many stairs. We live hundreds of miles away from grandparents and extended family who could help keep an eye on the kids. Babysitters are expensive. Cars fly down our residential streets. Sidewalks are nonexistent or end inexplicably. Everything is paved and hard. Grass is sprayed with pesticides.

These immediate safety concerns are real, but if we don’t find ways around them, our children will be dealing with the consequences later – with obesity, ADHD, anxiety, heart disease, and the list goes on.

So find a way to close off the stairs, cushion hard edges, slow down the traffic, and let the kids out of the containers. And maybe even let them climb a tree or two.