As a mom of a climber, it feels like no matter how securely I anchor furniture to the wall or try to set boundaries with my 3-year-old, I’m always on alert. I am constantly looking over my shoulder, checking to see if she’s decided to scale a bookcase and test gravity to see if she can fly. I love my daughter’s natural curiosity and sense of adventure, and I want to encourage it—I just want her to be safe in the process. It’s even better if I can turn my back for a few minutes without fearing she’ll end up with a broken arm (or worse).
“Infants and toddlers are naturally driven to build their gross motor skills,” founder and creative director of the Montessori-inspired company Piccalio, Aneta Kostic tells Pregnancy & Newborn, adding, “Some children are so intent on movement they practice pulling up, climbing, and crawling on everything they can reach—even things that are not designed to support them—challenging their parents to find ways to support their development while keeping them safe.” (She doesn’t know it, but she perfectly described my daughter.)
Enter Piccalio’s Climber Pikler Triangle Set. The Pikler Triangle is a pyramid-like structure built for climbing up and down. In addition to the climber, the set also comes with a two-sided ramp with a rock climber on one side and a smooth slide on the other.
The Montessori-inspired toy is safe for little ones as young as 6 months and up to 132 pounds. It’s great for babies who are starting to pull themselves up, toddlers and preschoolers who love to climb, and bigger kids who love open-ended play.
When I was given the opportunity to have my 3-year-old and 6-year-old daughters test the product, I jumped at the chance—and it did not disappoint.
The set arrived well-packed in a compact shipping box with a handle, which was nice since the structure is somewhat heavy and it had to be carried up to my kids’ playroom on the second floor. Upon opening the box, my husband and I found all of the pieces neatly packed with an instruction sheet on top.
The climbing triangle features 17 separate rungs, all of which have to be manually connected to the climber at each end. The package comes with all of the parts needed to assemble the toy, but we were much more successful getting a good, tight fit using a wrench we have at home versus the Allen wrench that came with the wooden climbing triangle.
While the structure has a simple design, assembly was not as intuitive as you might think. Some of the rungs were slightly longer than the others, and connecting the peak of the ladder was a bit confusing the first time around because two screws have to be removed for folding the climber down for storage (more on that later) and it took some trial and error to figure it out.
The ramp came fully assembled, so all we had to do was clear it of some of the leftover packing materials and it was ready to go.
While set up took us under an hour from start to finish, it could have been quicker if the instructions had been a bit more clear. We had to rely on an illustrated guide with each piece of the toy labeled with a corresponding number, but very little written instruction. I’d say this manual is similar to the instructions you’d find with a piece of Ikea furniture—you eventually figure them out but it takes longer than you’d like.
Once we figured out the assembly of the toy, my kids were eager to get climbing. Once the ramp was safely positioned, they were all smiles as they burned off some energy exploring their new climber (which was particularly nice, since it was a rainy weekend and they needed a way to get some energy out).
Designed for multiple ages and open-ended play
Parents will know that, for the most part, there are very few toys that are both safe and interesting enough that both young babies and older children will enjoy equally. But the Climber Pikler Triangle is one of them.
Because of its design, it’s safe for babies and toddlers to use as support for their gross motor skill development. It offers them a space to pull up, cruise, and start to climb as they feel more stable and confident. For preschoolers and big kids, it’s a fun challenge for them to climb to the top, figure out how to swing their legs over the peak of the triangle, then climb back down. Add in the slide (my kids’ favorite feature) and it’s like a mini jungle gym in your house.
What I particularly love about the design, though, is that it can be played with in so many different ways beyond standing and climbing. For instance, my older daughter loves to include it in her elaborate obstacle courses, and my 3-year-old was quick to throw a blanket over the top of it and turn it into a little playhouse. And, when they combined this toy with their other favorite open-ended play structure, the Nugget, they were occupied for so long that I was able to actually sit down and relax as they played.
High-quality materials and craftsmanship
One of the downsides to this toy is that it’s pricey at $349 per set. Since it’s a toy that can span so many ages, I look at it as an investment piece, but the reason you can purchase it for your baby and trust it to last until your child is in kindergarten (and beyond) is it’s made from high-quality materials—which do not come cheap.
“Our brand emphasizes natural materials that are healthy, safe, and innately enjoyable for children and parents’ living spaces,” says Kostic. “Concepts such as European design, slow-living, small-back manufacturing, and sustainably-sourced wood are imbued in every Piccalio piece.” Additionally, she says, “All products are safety-tested, made of FSC-certified wood, and completely non-toxic.” Plus, for every order Piccalio processes, they plant a tree, ensuring every delivery is “carbon neutral,” which is more than you can say about a lot of companies.
The quality craftsmanship and materials are clear as soon as you unbox and set up this product. Each rung is thick and sturdy enough that you don’t have to worry about them snapping while your child is climbing, and the dowels are sanded down and sealed, making them smooth and easy to grip without being slippery. Not to mention, it’s very easy on the eyes and doesn’t clash with my aesthetic like brightly colored plastic toys often do.
Foldable for storage
One of my favorite features about this product is that it folds down for storage. When assembled, it measures 30.5 inches high by 27.5 inches wide by 36.5 inches deep (not including the ramp), so it takes up a lot of floor space that I simply don’t have to spare if the toy isn’t in use.
So, when the kids are done playing with it, I can collapse the triangle down to where it measures 35.5 inches high by 27.5 inches wide by 6 inches deep—a huge difference. Once it’s folded down, I simply slide it and the ramp under my youngest daughter’s bed until the next time they want to play with it (which is often, by the way).
Areas for Improvement
Even the best products have a few things that could be improved upon, and the Climber Pikler Triangle Set is no different. While I would highly recommend this structure to any of my friends—especially the ones with climbers like mine—there are a few things I’d change if given the option.
Ease of setting up and folding down
Again, let me reiterate how much I love that this is a foldable Pikler triangle. However, I wish the process of setting it up and collapsing it were a bit easier.
Before receiving the product, I envisioned a secure hinge system that would allow me to quickly and simply set the toy up and take it down, however, it’s a bit more complicated. There are two screws attached to knobs that need to be pulled out before opening or closing the climbing structure, then screwed back in before playing on the structure or tucking it away in storage. This process isn’t hard by any means (my 6-year-old enjoys helping me), but these screws are long so it takes a bit of time. Plus, you have to make sure you really tighten the knob when the climber is set up to ensure it’s secure enough for play.
I understand that a hinge-like design could pose a pinching risk for younger children. And in all fairness, the screw design does work really well because as long as the screws are in tight the climber is stable and doesn’t wobble whatsoever. I just wish the set up and fold-down process were a little bit quicker.
Rock climbing wall design
The ramp that comes along with the Climber Pikler Triangle features a smooth surface on one side, which my kids used as a slide, but could also be a climbing ramp, and little attachments to create a rock wall on the other. While my daughters love the slide, they have only used the climbing side of the ramp once because the attachments are hard to grab with their hands and hurt their bare feet.
I’m not sure if this side of the ramp was designed with smaller children in mind, but even my 3-year-old complained of it hurting her feet when she tried to climb on it. The attachments are U-shaped, but while there are no sharp corners, the pieces aren’t very deep, so little feet have to dig into the top edge of each piece to get a good grip, and it’s very uncomfortable. Also, since the pieces lack depth, my daughters each found it equally difficult to hang on to them by hand.
I still say the ramp is worth it because my girls will slide down the smooth side over and over again, but I do wish they could also enjoy the rock climbing side just as much.
Who Would Enjoy This Product
The Climber Pikler Triangle Set is something that can be enjoyed by babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary-aged children. Both my daughters have asked me to set the structure up every weekend for over a month, and they continue to enjoy the traditional way of playing with it and find new ways to make it even more fun.
As for the caregivers of these young children, this toy is best for those who are willing to splurge and who see this toy as an investment, rather than something their child(ren) will quickly tire of. It’s also good for families who have enough space to set it up and stow it away (though it isn’t an eyesore, so if you don’t have access to easy storage space that’s not a total deal-breaker).
I love this toy for my girls, especially my little climber, and it’s one I recommend to just about any parent of young children. It’s a great way for kids to get some energy out, strengthen their gross motor skills, and use their imaginations.