We recently looked at Pikler triangles and found our 3 favourite products in this Pikler triangle review. Pikler triangles have a lot of benefits but they aren’t perfect for every toddler which is why we want to show you some alternatives. In this article we take a look at the best pikler triangle alternatives including more affordable options and alternatives that help toddlers learn and play with different activities.
Our first alternative choice is a foam climber, which you might prefer if you have younger toddlers because of it’s soft surface.
Secondly we take a look at the rocking boat and balance board which can help children learn to balance.
Our final and most exciting alternative is a toddler climbing frame which lets older toddlers really develop their gross motor skills.
Pikler triangle alternative choices compared !
Alternative 1 – Foam climber – best for young toddlers
Click image to view foam climber on Amazon
Our first pikler triangle alternative is the foam climber. A foam climber is a set of foam blocks that fit together to make a climbing platform. These foam climbing blocks offer a different experience than a pikler triangle. Foam blocks give toddlers the chance to develop a similar set of skills but there are also some differences.
We chose the foam blocks as an alternative because we wanted an alternative suitable for the youngest toddlers who aren’t close to being able to put weight on their feet and stand up yet. These foam blocks encourage toddlers to move around and push and pull objects. This improves a toddlers sense of coordination and touch.
Toddlers can also use the blocks to learn to identify different colours, improve hand eye coordination and learn about spatial awareness. These are a different set of skills that compliment the Pikler triangles focus on balance, gross motor skills and grasping. However, they don’t offer your child the chance to climb so if you want to help your child to climb or learn to stand up, the rocker and toddler climbing frame below might be a better alternative for you.
A pikler triangle has lots of wooden beams that are hard and you need to keep a careful eye on your child so they don’t fall. Soft foam blocks are much closer to the ground and are colourful and easy to crawl on. Children can also move these foam blocks around and pile them on top of each other. The downside to using a foam climber rather than a pikler triangle is that they don’t offer the rungs for children to hold on to and learn to stand and climb independently.
ECR4kids Soft zone climb and crawl
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These foam climbing blocks aren’t a pikler triangle but they allow toddlers to develop a similar set of skills. If your children are still very young and you don’t feel they are ready to climb up a pikler triangle yet, you can let them crawl up the colourful foam ramp and onto the different shaped foam blocks.
Each block is a different shape so allows children to climb on different shaped surfaces and have fun placing them together, building towers and navigating up and onto the blocks like an obstacle course.
Each block is small and not very high off the ground which can help children learn to crawl up, down and across different surfaces while using their imagination. The triangular shaped foam blocks have a sloping surface that children like to crawl up, but even though these blocks are low off the ground they can move and you need to be close to your child so they don’t fall off.
Pikler triangle vs Nugget foam climber comparison table
- Can be used to help children learn to grasp and pull their body weight, which isn’t possible with a foam climber.
- It’s possible to improve gross motor skills, balance and to learn to stand up holding the triangular frame as a support.
- You can make a secret hideaway underneath the triangle.
- Helps toddlers learn to build confidence in their physical abilities.
- The pikler triangle is easier to move around and store away because it’s one or 2 solid pieces of wood rather than lots of different foam blocks that end up moved around everywhere.
- Tends to last longer than the foam climber blocks but is priced higher.
- The soft surface is more suitable for young toddlers when compared with the pikler triangle hard wood rungs.
- The different colours and shaped blocks offer a fun learning and building experience that’s very different from a pikler triangle.
- You can stack the blocks in different positions and create a play area that can be moved around and adjusted easily.
- Play on a foam climber is less structured and likely to be more uncontrolled. Kids are less likely to learn about the boundaries of what is safe and not.
- The nugget foam climber is a similar price when compared to a pikler triangle but the ECR4 kids option above is much cheaper.
- No opportunity to learn to stand up climb vertically. Toddlers often grow out of using a foam climber once they reach 18 months or 2 years old.
Alternative 2 – Balance board / Rocking boat – best for improving balance
The balance board is another Montessori method learning tool. The focus of a rocking boat or balance board is that it moves, making it very exciting and it also offers the opportunity for children to learn to balance and coordinate themselves while moving.
Cassaro Waldorf Wooden Rocker
Click the image to view the current price on Amazon
The Cassaro Waldorf rocker is different from a basic rocker. This rocker is a piece of play equipment that can be used for a number of different activities. We have seen kids Use at as a rocker and rock back and forth. It’s also possible for 2 children to sit in it together and pretend it is a boat sailing out at sea. Turn it upside down and it can be used as a frame to climb over or slide down.
Turn the Waldorf rocker upside down and it also forms a small tunnel which can be used as a hideaway or to crawl under as part of any imaginative play adventures your children love to create. On it’s side you can use it as a shop counter to pretend to play shop based roleplay games and any other imaginative scenario children think up for having fun and learning. When it’s upside down we think it’s similar to a Pikler triangle which also often have space to play underneath, although the space underneath a rocker is usually smaller.
When compared with the Pikler triangle a rocker helps toddlers learn more about balance and stability. Young toddlers can also sit in the rocker and if you gentle rock them back and forth the motion is soothing and can help them settle down and fall asleep.
Pikler triangle vs rocking boat / balance board comparison
- A pikler triangle helps kids learn to stand by holding onto the beams to support them.
Rocking boat / balance board
- A rocker is gives children chance to learn to balance and improve their coordination.
- A rocker helps a child develop core stability, especially older children who can stand up on the rocker and shift their weight side to side using their legs and core to control the movement.
Alternative 3 – Toddler climbing frame – Best alternative for older toddlers Improving gross motor skills
If you have children who are around 2 years old or older then a climbing frame might be a better choice for you. This would be a better alternative for older children because they will have already learnt most of the skills a Pikler triangle helps develop.
Older toddlers can already grasp, stand, crawl and begin to climb. If they haven’t mastered climbing yet a pikler triangle is still useful but parents find their children quickly move from being able to climb a pikler triangle to a climbing frame which is usually more fun to play on.
Wedanta Indoor playground
The Wedanta indoor playground is a good alternative for children aged 2-5 years old. It is priced similarly to the higher priced pikler triangles so you aren’t paying much more but you are getting a piece of equipment that offers a lot more play opportunities for older toddlers. The colours are very bright and attractive to children and there is a lot to do. Climb or slide down the ramp, climb all the different ladders, climb the rope or swing on the gymnastics rings.
The benefits of choosing an indoor playground instead of a pikler triangle are as follows. It gives children the chance to develop strength, endurance and coordinate their movement. What it doesn’t do is offer a simple tool for younger toddlers to learn to stand, balance and grow. If you choose to buy this playground your children will already have learnt most of the skills a pikler triangle is most useful for and will have began to outgrow it.
Pikler triangle vs toddler climbing frame
- Better choice for younger toddlers
- Cheaper option.
- Not as fun for older children who are able to use a climbing frame.
- Takes up much less space.
Toddler climbing frame
- Best for older toddlers aged 2 years and older
- Children using this climbing frame will have already learnt to climb and should be beginning to build strength and improve their gross motor skill.
- Usually the more expensive option.
- Less focused on development and growth and more focused on children having fun.
What parents think of these alternatives
We considered and compared a lot of different parents opinions about the rocker, foam blocks and climbing frame. The foam blocks are very popular with parents often using them at parties. Parents reported that children of different ages found a use for them, whether throwing them around, building or crawling along them. This doesn’t mean that they are a good choice for older toddlers though, children will play with any toys but toddlers older than 2 years will prefer a pikler triangle, rocker or climbing frame and are likely to spend more time on those.
Parents also often report that foam blocks are much smaller than they expected when they looked at the pictures. This is sometimes true but as you can see in picture above there are larger options that can be placed together to create a platform. If you want your toddlers to be able to crawl on them don’t buy the smaller building block style foam blocks.
According to parents the rocker is the alternative that offers the most possibilities for imaginative play. A rocker can be a boat, car, tunnel and climbing frame. Often more than one child will try and sit inside a rocker, this isn’t a good idea because there isn’t much space and it can become cramped and unsafe.
There are so many different climbing frame options but parents commented that they keep their children busy for many hours, with all the different play attachments, including ladders, slides and climbing walls.
Reasons to choose an alternative instead of a pikler triangle
Here are some reasons why you might want to choose an alternative toy instead of a pikler triangle.
- Age – A toddler under 12 months old might find more use for foam blocks then a pikler triangle. In comparison a child older than 2 years old might benefit more from a rocker or climbing frame.
- Benefits – Foam blocks offer the chance to build and improve hand eye coordination. A climbing frame offers the chance to improve climbing skills and learn to use new play equipment. A rocker helps a child learn to balance.
- Price – Foam blocks are usually the lowest price, a rocker or triangle are similarly priced and a climbing frame is usually more expensive.
Summary of pikler triangle alternatives
Choosing an alternative can be a lot of fun because as we have shown in this article there are some exciting choices. You can even use the above options to use alongside a pikler triangle. Any of the above play equipment can be used together. If you have younger toddlers then the foam blocks, rocker and pikler all have slightly different benefits so any combination of these products is a good choice. The climbing frame is the only option that doesn’t work well with the other play equipment. This is because it is designed for older toddlers and the other equipment works best with younger toddlers.
You may find a way to combing the playground and rocker though, as the rocking motion and balance practice is different from a playground. If you can;t decide which alternative to choose we would recommend the Cassaro rocker because it helps children balance, children enjoy the rocking motion and it can be turned upside down and used in a similar way to a pikler triangle.