Updated: Jul 19
Google 'pikler climbing frames', and their rise in popularity today is evident, but this makes it mind-boggling on what to look for to ensure that your child is safe when using one.
In its most simple form, a pikler is an indoor triangle shaped climbing frame used by babies, toddlers and young children to encourage movement and development of their physical boundaries, and strengthen their vestibular system. Latest versions have added modern twists like slides and humps that can be connected for extended climbing challenge and fun.
The Pikler Triangle was first designed by Hungarian paediatrician, Dr Emmi Pikler over 100 years ago. She developed a new theory of childhood development in the 1930’s based on naturally paced motor development, free self-directed movement and uninterrupted play. She observed that children who had the freedom to climb and jump to their hearts content, tended to be more physically capable, and had a greater self-awareness and understanding of their body and limitations. We also now know that a well developed vestibular system, our most connected sensory system, aids concentration and self-regulation.
First and foremost, piklers sold in UK shops like Timeless Toys have to be CE tested and comply with UK safety law. Piklers sold via third party selling sites like Etsy and Amazon, unbelievably, do not!
Piklers that are CE tested and legally compliant to European Safety Law, like the UK-made Wee'UN that we stock, are made and tested according to:
Safe tumbling height should your child fall.
Weight bearing ability - ie: it won't topple over and is self-supporting. It cannot be higher than 600mm.
Side tip stability - anything higher than 600mm has to be fixed to the floor.
Safe gap distance between rungs so a baby or child's torso cannot fall between them and their head and neck become entrapped.
Overall finish of the product - corners, edges, protruding parts, water accumulation.
It's tempting to look at a UK compliant pikler and question the height, but this is based on the purpose of a pikler and all the above safety features mentioned and I've yet to hear a child ever mention the height! Any higher and it is deemed unsafe. In fact anything higher than 600mm would fail safety testing unless secured to the ground. It also assumes that the only way a child will enjoy this, is going up and down and going higher and higher. My son loves to explore the complicated ways he can manipulate his body on these. Examples of how the pikler is an open play toy and not limited to just learning to climb up and over, can be found in the following blog post: The Importance of Open Ended Toys.
We particularly like the thick rungs of the Wee'UN making this comfortable to climb and the single bar at top mimicking playground equipment so they can master turning themselves at height and re-distributing their weight to do so. We also like how it can be turned on its side to become a boat or a shop counter and other features can be securely added like a slide or ladder as your child grows. Pikler's are great if you have limited space because they are designed to fold up and be tucked away.
So before you buy, be sure that you are confident that it is fully tested and a safety compliant Pikler Frame, and just to reassure, my nearly 8year old is still really engaged with finding ways to climb it!
Find all our Pikler Frames and accessories here on our website