As a toddler, she's always eager for climbing anything and everything. When she engages in undesired climbing behaviour (e.g. climbing drawers/shelves), I redirect her to the Pikler Triangle.
When safety precautions and usage rules are introduced, the Pikler Triangle can be a safe resource for children to explore and experiment with physical limits as well as gain lifelong confidence and mastery of their bodies.
Tumbles, knocks and bumps are inevitable during the exploration and experimentation, thankfully they generally heal fast and well. It's the serious or lasting kind of injuries we want to prevent and shield our children from.
6 Ways to Encourage Pikler Triangle Safety
These are the ways I've found most effective in ensuring the Pikler Triangle is a safe, controlled and secure environment for my toddler's everyday use:
1. Pick a High Quality Pikler Triangle
Not all Pikler Triangles are created equal. With the Pikler Triangle becoming more popular, inferior products have entered the market.
Here are some considerations before you make the purchase:
- Has the Pikler Triangle been independently and professionally weight load tested? This is particularly of concern if multiple children are playing together on the Pikler Triangle. Retailers should be able to give information like the amount of weight it can hold up to, and over what period of time.
- Have there been prior customer complaints about spacing between the rungs? I've come across customer reviews sharing accounts of their children slipping through the rungs.
- What is the height of the frame you are comfortable with? In the market, I've seen shorter Piklers designed for babies and toddlers and taller Piklers for older children. You could consider starting with a shorter Pikler before transitioning to a taller one (if budget isn't an issue). There is a strong demand for secondhand Pikler Triangles in online marketplaces, which helps.
- Is the brand established? Trustworthy brands usually introduce additional safety testing processes and screen the quality and safety of materials to ensure structural integrity of the climbing frame, ramp and rungs, right down to the last detail like the type of wood/screws/wax coating used.
Sidenote: For those who're building your own Pikler triangle, it's challenging to tell if it holds up/lasts. Do the best you can - be meticulous with material selection, and go with your best knowledge amd skills. It might help using a blueprint that's been in circulation online for a while and also to consult engineering friends who have the expertise when in doubt.
2. Let the Child Lead
Pikler Triangles are designed to be played with supervision, but minimal intervention by caregivers. Children climb to the extent they feel confident.
It can be tempting to help children climb, put them at the top of the Pikler or egg them on to cross over, but this risks getting them to do something they might not be developmentally ready for.
Children's developmental skills vary widely and they develop best at their own pace. Stand by and watch them grow with the Pikler Triangle.
While the Pikler Triangle is designed to encourage independent free play, it should be used with caregiver supervision. Independent free play doesn't mean leaving your child's side and being out of reach. Unsupervised play for young children always carry risks regardless of the activity.
My recommendation: Locate the Pikler Triangle where you're most often at e.g. if you cook a lot, placing the Pikler Triangle in an area of the living room in plain sight from the kitchen is a good idea.
4. Cushioning the Pikler Base
Falls on a hard surface vs. carpeted/soft surface can make a difference to the impact.
I recommend something soft, padded yet sturdy beneath and around the Pikler Triangle. Carpet, play mats, rugs, floor cushions are great options for indoor play. For outdoor play, grass works.
Also avoid placing any items around the Pikler Triangle which could inhibit movement and also result in serious injuries if children fall and hit the hard objects.
5. Introducing Rules
These are the guidelines I've introduced pertaining to the use of the Pikler Triangle in my home.
I explain and reiterate them often to my toddler, redirecting risky behaviors or gently stopping play in extreme situations until she could use it more responsibly. A foldable Pikler Triangle also means you could stow it away and re-introduce when you/they are ready.
Here're my rules. Instead of "No XXX", I use positive language focusing on what I'll like my toddler to do instead, and science affirms this is easier to comprehend and remember for young children. Feel free to select the ones that speak to you, edit or add to the list:
- Both hands on the rungs while climbing i.e. not bringing a toy in the hands while climbing up - I've found this to be the #1 reason for my toddler's tumbles
- Food off the Pikler Triangle - #2 reason for tumbles is holding a snack while climbing
- Feet on the rungs/ramp always - i.e. no jumping off
- Bare feet on the Pikler - wearing socks inhibit grip
- Taking turns - if multiple children are using the Pikler
- Gentle hands only - no rough play pushing/jostling if multiple children are using the Pikler
You could relax or do away the rules slowly as your child grows and becomes more adept and confident at using the Pikler Triangle.
6. Distraction-free Play Environment
Accidents can happen when children are distracted and lose focus on what they're doing. Television (TV) can be a big distraction.
I recommend the Pikler Triangle to be positioned in a space far away from the TV, or for the TV to be turned off before commencing Pikler play.
Wishing your children a safe and joyful experience of using and enjoying their Pikler Triangle!
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Hi! I am Yunnie. I am the newly minted mama to a little baby girl and a mum friend to everyone on this special (and many times scary) journey of motherhood. Also a graduated bride with a penchant for weddings.