Pikler triangle is one of the rising stars among the Montessori toys.
Even though it was not designed by Maria Montessori, the philosophy behind the Pikler triangle is in accordance with the Montessori approach.
In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at what it is, why it’s so great and what are the best models on the market.
(If you’re too curious, our favorites are Piccalio’s Mini Climber and Tottlr Pikler Triangle by Tottlr).
Let’s dive in.
What is a Pikler triangle?
Pikler triangle is a climbing frame designed as a gross motor development tool for babies and toddlers. It encourages free movement and allows children to develop their physical strength and agility at their own pace. It was named after Hungarian physician Emmi Pikler.
Emmi Pikler was a pediatrician who specialized in infant education and put her new theories into practice at the orphanage she ran.
Pikler’s goal was to create a comforting environment that allows children to develop naturally, with an emphasis on free movement.
The triangle was popularized by one of her students, Magda Gerber, who brought it to the United States.
The Pikler triangle is sometimes simply called a “climbing frame” (which is exactly what it is), a “Montessori climbing ladder” or misspelled as “Pickler” or “Picklar” triangle.
We have our own experience with this awesome device:
When Ella was 14 months old, she was obsessed with climbing. We were looking for different ways to encourage this newly-found “hobby”, of course, within safety limits. That’s when we stumbled upon the Montessori Pikler triangle.
Long story short: We purchased one almost immediately and we’ve loved it since.
Pikler triangle benefits
- Develops gross motor skills
- Improves spatial awareness
- Promotes open-ended play
- Improves balance and coordination
- Supports self-confidence
Pikler triangle is a perfect gross motor development tool.
It helps to build children’s better concentration and boost confidence in their own strengths. You can see it every time they climb a bit higher than the day before, or when they reach the top and see the world from a different perspective.
Pikler triangle enables children to improve their climbing techniques and balance. These are essential skills in the healthy, natural development and will definitely come in handy one day.
The best thing about the Pikler triangle is that it’s a versatile, open-ended toy.
Its beauty lies in its simplicity that awakens the children’s imagination. They don’t need much to have a lot of fun climbing “the mountain” or hiding in a “secret cave” with the construction covered with a blanket.
Besides the positive influence on the development of your child there are some practical advantages too:
- It is foldable so you can store it easily when not in use (unlike some other wooden climbing toys)
- It is a great indoor activity for any Montessori playroom, especially if the weather doesn’t allow to do some climbing outside in nature
Best Pikler triangle models
We did some research of the most popular brands and selected the best Pikler triangle models based on our own experience.
Mini Climber Pikler Triangle by Piccalio
Simple is beautiful. This classic-looking handmade Pikler triangle by Piccalio is a perfect tool for the gross motor skills development of your child. It has just the right dimensions that make it suitable for children from 6 months up to 6 years. Also, Piccalio plants 1 tree per every product sold.
Height: 33 inches (84 cm)
Available add-ons: rockwall/slide ramp
Origin: California, USA
Pikler Triangle Climber by Tottlr
Tottlr is a family-owned company that makes sturdy, eco-friendly climbers of great quality and craftsmanship. Their triangles come in 3 different sizes, so you’ll definitely find one that will suit your little climber’s needs. Also, we love that the company (inspired by the work of Emmi Pikler) supports children in foster care.
Height: 24/27/30 inches (60/68/76 cm)
Available add-ons: rockwall/slide ramp
Origin: Texas, USA
Climbing Triangle by Sprout Kids
Sprout Kids is a well-known manufacturer of Montessori-inspired furniture. Their Climbing Triangle is a reliable, sturdy and well-crafted Pikler triangle that can hold multiple small children at the same time. You can also purchase one or two additional climbing ramps.
Height: 36 inches (91 cm)
Available add-ons: ramp/slide
Origin: Utah, USA
Little Climber Pikler Triangle by Lily & River
Lily & River Pikler triangle is made of very sturdy, sustainable birch hardwood. It is perfect for children as young as 6 months to 3+ years. The shipping is very fast and the construction is easy to assemble – your little one can start climbing in no time!
Height: 24 1/2 inches (62 cm)
Available add-ons: 2 in 1 ladder/slide, 2 in 1 rockwall/slide
HappyMoon Transformable Pikler Triangle
If you really like to change things up, this super-transformable Pikler triangle by HappyMoon is the right choice for you! With more than 15 different easy-to-change variations, your child can climb, explore, crawl, hide in a “secret cave” and, most importantly, have a lot of fun!
Height: 34.6 inches (88 cm)
Available add-ons: 2 in 1 slide/climbing ramp
Montessori Arch Climbing Gym by PlayWilderToys
This ultimate climbing gym by PlayWilderToys consists of a Pikler triangle, a climbing ramp and up to 3 ramps. It is a perfect set-up for new climbing adventures for multiple kids that is made of the highest grade Baltic Birchwood. A nice little detail is a video tutorial as well as phone support in case you have any questions when it comes to the assembly.
Height: triangle: 36 inches (91 cm), arch: 19 inches (48 cm)
Foldable: Yes (arch: no)
Add-ons: up to 3 slide/rock ramps or slide/ladder ramps
Why is the Pikler triangle Montessori-friendly?
For both Pikler and Montessori, freedom of movement was essential for a child’s healthy development.
Dr. Pikler believed that a child who can move freely becomes more cautious and skillful than a child that is always protected and whose movement is limited:
“If we provide enough space and possibilities for moving freely, then the children will move as well as animals: skillfully, simply, securely, naturally.”
– Emmi Pikler
She called for the natural physical development of children, without any interference. As we know, child’s independence plays a crucial role in Montessori education. That’s one of the reasons why the Pikler triangle is so popular in Montessori families.
Montessori education also encourages free movement by establishing a safe environment where children can move without constant “Do not climb there!” or “Don’t touch that vase!” behind their backs.
The latest studies confirm that healthy infants don’t need any walkers or bouncers, nor should they be propped to sit unless they’re able to do so by themselves.
If we respect the children’s own pace and let them move freely, we enable them to strengthen all the muscles necessary for their natural development. They’ll become stronger, more confident in their motion and thus less prone to injury.
Toddlers should be given all the possible opportunities to move, run, jump and climb! And this is where the Pikler triangle comes into play as a great toy 🙂
How much does a Pikler triangle cost?
You can find most models in the range between $200 and $400. The price usually varies based on the finish (simple natural look or painted versions), size, and the number of additional items (sliding/climbing ramps).
And of course, there are many great Pikler triangle alternatives that bring the same gross motor development benefits, both within a lower or higher price range.
What is an ideal age to start with a Pikler triangle?
Most of the models can be used by children that can crawl – so as soon as the age of six months. The distances between the rods are made specifically to be suitable for the babies and toddlers, while not being an obstacle for older children.
What’s more, many models come equipped with various forms of sliding and climbing ramps that create various possibilities and even more fun for kids of all ages.
How tall is a Pikler triangle?
There are no strict rules about the Pikler triangle dimensions. Most models are about 30 inches (76 cm) in height and approximately the same in width and depth (ranging from 25” to 43”, or 63 – 110 centimeters).
The great thing about the Pikler triangle is that despite its considerable size, it is foldable so it can be easily stored in narrow spaces when not in use.
Is the Pikler triangle safe?
Yes, the Pikler triangle is safe. Of course, as with any other activity, you still need to supervise the kids to make sure they’re not doing anything that could be harmful to them. In comparison with a tree or an unstable piece of furniture, it is a safe and steady toy, as it was designed specifically to be climbed on.
In fact, you would be surprised how soon your child will be confident enough to climb the whole structure without any hesitation. What’s more, the confidence your child gets with the Pikler triangle can be useful in many real-life situations.
Let’s imagine a group of children is playing outside and gets a fantastic idea to climb a big tree. Which child will be safer? The one that was never allowed to climb on anything or the experienced climber?
Can I make my own Pikler triangle?
Absolutely. Just make sure to use quality materials that will comply with the quality standards and safety requirements. Montessori in Real Life has a great, 24-page DYI step-by-step guide you can download for free.
You’ll also find many detailed DIY Pikler triangle plans on Etsy.