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Woodwork & Home Improvement

Want to Win a Pikler Triangle (Climbing Frame)?

Emmi Pikler was a Hungarian Pediatrician who developed a new theory of child development, based on allowing the child to move freely and develop at his or her own pace.  (Magda Gerber, who founded RIE, was Emmi Pikler’s student.)  In practice this means that parents and caregivers don’t put the child into any position they can’t get into by themselves – often a hard thing to do as a parent when you want to make sure your child meets the next official milestone ‘on time.’

We flubbed the rule when it came to sitting; we did help Carys to sit mostly because we did it once or twice and she liked it and once you start doing that stuff it’s hard to stop.  Plus I really wanted to try Baby-Led Weaning and the baby needs to be able to sit unassisted to do that (so they don’t slide backwards and potentially choke on food).  There’s some debate about whether BLW fits with RIE (the purists say ‘no’), but I personally believe it is a respectful way to teach kids about eating so I decided to do it anyway.  BLW ended up working out fabulously well for us; Carys is starting to get a bit more picky about food now but she will try pretty much anything once and likes things I might not think she would (like posole, spiced with a little chipotle chili, for dinner last night).

Carys climbing on the new (fully functional) Triangle that I just finished

Carys climbing on the new (fully functional) Triangle that I just finished

We stuck to the rule fairly hard and fast when it came to standing and walking; we didn’t stand her up before she could pull herself up and we never allowed anyone to ‘walk’ her.  She was a little later to walk than some of her peers but one of Alvin’s friends whom he hadn’t seen since college came over for dinner recently and was shocked to learn that Carys had only been walking for three weeks, given how confident she was even on the cobbles in our back yard.  Check out this video of a (pre-walking!) baby climbing a play structure, titled “Would you let your child do this?” – my answer would be an emphatic ‘yes’!

As part of encouraging her to move and climb, I’ve been building wooden toys for her – she’s gotten far more use out of the rocking boat/steps than Alvin ever thought she would, and she loved the Pikler Triangle from the first time she saw it in RIE class so I knew I had to make one for her.  I started out using 2x4s for the sides which made it very sturdy but frankly it seems a bit over-engineered for a small child – the rungs will fail LONG before the sides.  I also mis-measured the rung spacing on one side (duh!) so the rungs slope slightly (not enough that Carys has ever seemed to notice).  I see regular requests on the RIE Facebook groups I’m in for advice on where to buy or build these things so I wanted to put something up on Instructables, and didn’t want to put up photos of an imperfect product…so I decided to make a new one for us using 2x3s.


pikler triangle tutorial


This is the Triangle I’m giving away. Fully functional when set up for climbing (and very solid, with those 2×4 side rails!).

And so to the part for which you’ve patiently waited – I need to give away the prototype model as we don’t have space to store it.  It works excellently well as a fully-assembled climbing structure.  It has two aesthetic problems – the aforementioned slightly sloping rungs, and an extra hole drilled in one of the connector pieces when I was trying to figure out how to get the big side pieces to swing past each other.  It also doesn’t fold perfectly flat (because the sides are too wide).  But if you just want a triangle that works for climbing and you don’t need to fold it away then that won’t be a problem for you!  Warning: it is heavy (perhaps 20lbs) so it would be best if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area and can pick it up.  If you’re willing to pay then I’m willing to ship, but it could be expensive.

If you’d like to throw your name into the hat then just sign up to follow my blog.  If you’re already subscribed, you’ve already entered!  I’ll use a random number generator to select the winner on Friday October 23rd and I’ll be in touch after that to discuss logistics.

Doesn't quite fold flat (those darned 2x4 side rails!), and there's an extra hole where I was trying to figure out how the pieces fit together).

Doesn’t quite fold flat (those darned 2×4 side rails!), and there’s an extra hole where I was trying to figure out how the pieces fit together).

And if you want to make one yourself, go check out my Instructable…

Do you want to understand how your child’s brain is developing?

If there's just no way you can get to all the reading on your child's development that you want to do, check out my free four-page summary of Your Child’s Growing Mind by Jane M. Healy, Ph.D.

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  • Reply
    October 20, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    Refrshing to see this post. I actually am looking for a new pediatrician after she insisted that I made my daughter sit up and practice her standing.

    • Reply
      October 20, 2015 at 8:34 pm

      Goodness. I’ve heard of pediatricians pushing tummy time pretty hard, but hadn’t heard of one insisting on practicing sitting and standing. The general consensus among people who know more about RIE than I do is that pediatricians know a lot about illness, but perhaps not so much about child development… Best of luck in your search for a new one, and in supporting your daughter to do these things in her own time:-)

  • Reply
    cristen miller
    November 27, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    Hello! So pleased to have found your blog while looking for a Pikler Triangle in San Francisco. Just in case the raffle is still on, please enter us : )

    • Reply
      November 29, 2015 at 11:00 pm

      Glad to ‘meet’ you, Cristen. I’m afraid I have given away the Triangle by now, but you could always follow the instructions and make your own…:)

  • Reply
    Camille Williams
    June 6, 2016 at 5:29 pm

    This is so great. I wish it was easier to find these. How tall is your triangle?

    • Reply
      June 6, 2016 at 5:34 pm

      Hi Camille – I actually just put our triangle in temporary storage yesterday so we would have some space in the play room for Carys’ easel so I can’t measure it for you, but the long leg is 36″ long and the short leg is 32″ long. Given that they’re both at an angle I’d guess it’s around 28″ tall. You should make one!

  • Reply
    Ralph Simone
    February 14, 2018 at 10:30 am

    Hi,am almost finished the Pikler climber,however I am having trouble getting the pivot piece to proper scale with my printer.When I print from the instructions,as they are on my screen, the notes are off the page. When I change print scale size,the 1″ scale on the top of the page shows up,but not the bottom ones. All I really need to know is the length of the base of the triangle of the pivot piece, most important to the spread of the legs. thank you

    • Reply
      February 14, 2018 at 10:37 am

      Sorry you’re having trouble with the printout – the length of the base of the pivot piece is 10.25″. Hope this helps!

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