"Jesus obviously welcomes children to Himself, but I wonder if there's isn't something more specific going on in the gospel stories about Jesus and children. Something like this:
Jesus is the new Moses who calls Israel to follow Him to the promised land.
Many in Israel refuse, and Jesus condemns 'this generation,' which will fall in the wilderness.
The little children of Israel are the second generation from Egypt, who will, unlike their parents, inherit the kingdom."