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Unbuckle That Baby!

Between his car seat, stroller, swing, and Exersaucer, your baby could easily stay strapped inside one thing or another all day. But while that may be convenient for you, it's not so good for him.

Many experts believe there's been a "containerization of babies" in recent years, says Judy French, Ph.D., professor emerita and former chair of Early Childhood Studies at Boise State University, in Idaho. It's an unfortunate trend, because infants benefit and learn from being held closely. While you have to be able to put your baby somewhere safe when you're making dinner or need a break, here are easy ways to cut back on nonessential container time:

Leave the car seat in the car. Sure, it's great when your baby dozes off while you're running errands. But look for chances to forgo the heavy lifting, like when you're just running into the store to get milk. Your back will get a break, and your baby will love being held.

Sideline your stroller. Try an occasional jaunt around the block with your baby in your arms. As he reaches out to touch things, like leaves or a mailbox, stop and let him explore for a little while.

Keep him close at home. Chatting on the phone or cleaning up? Put your infant in a sling or front carrier. The motion may lull him to sleep.

Try tummy time. He may love the bouncy seat, but when you're folding laundry or just want to relax, give him a chance to lie on his belly. He'll get to stretch those limbs a little more  -- and you'll get a nice view of how cute he is!

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