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The Benefits of a Pikler Triangle, According to a Child Development Expert

It's a beautifully simple developmental toy.

A Pikler triangle, in case you missed the latest craze in toddler gear, is not something you learn to play in band camp. In fact, it’s one of the most beautifully basic toys you can buy for your intrepid walker. The Pikler is a toddler climbing toy that can be a safe and controlled foray into what child development experts call “risky play.”

To clarify: Kids are not actually playing with matches or knives. But they are testing their own skills in unfamiliar settings.

“Risky play describes play experiences that challenge children’s skills, potentially even to the point of failure,” says Rebecca Parlakian, the director of programs at Zero to Three, a non-profit focused on early childhood development. “But we know that it’s through failing that children ultimately succeed, by trying again and again to master new skills.”

Basic as the Pikler seems, the benefits are anything but. “Mastering these risky play experiences builds children’s self-confidence and self-esteem. The Pikler triangle also invites children to climb, which strengthens gross motor skills, motor planning skills (what steps are needed to reach a physical goal), and spatial awareness (where one’s body is in relation to other objects). Because the Pikler triangle is open-ended, it also can encourage imaginative play.”

Meaning, kids can throw a blanket on it to build a fort, or use it as they would a tunnel. And because it always bears repeating: The Pikler triangle is a climbing toy, and kids fall off climbing toys. So always place it on a soft surface, ideally with padding, and supervise kids as they play.

If you'd rather spend less, here's a budget option that's still great. It's made of varnished pine, and has a weight limit of 135 pounds. Best of all, you can adjust the bars to make it ever more difficult for your climber. There are, however, tradeoffs: This does not fold flat, so if you're short on space, this isn't for you.

Perfect for beginner walkers and explorers, this Pikler Triangle is made from beechwood and has short dowel rods specifically made for little hands. It's also got a hefty weight limit of 150 pounds. For those not in the know, Cassarokids was founded in Houston, by two brothers, specifically to create high-quality wood climbers for toddlers.

A fantastic climbing toy, this one is made from FSC-certified birch hardwood. It folds flat for storage and based on your needs, you can choose between a reversible ladder/slide or reversible rockwall/slide. You can rise and lower the ladder and rockwall attachments to make things more challenging, or not. The weight limit is 90 pounds.

Like the version above, but with a frame and rungs made from bamboo. The weight limit is 90 pounds, and the biggest difference here is that you can use this indoors or outside. And it folds flat for storage.

Another magical toy, this one combines the joys of climbing and hiding in tunnels. There are openings on both sides, plus short climbing ladders, and a roof and open base for endless varieties of play. The weight limit is 150 pounds.

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