When your kid starts crawling on furniture, on shelves, on countertops, and everywhere else — it’s time to get a toy made for climbing.
I checked other toy review posts out there. They compare all kinds of climbing toys for kids of all ages.
But a buyer’s guide focused on the best indoor wooden climbing toys for toddlers? It didn’t exist — so here we are.
Today, I’ll take you a level deeper. Instead of just listing products, I’ll explain the important nuances of wooden climbing toys. I’ll help you build a solid framework to decide which kind is best for you.
After all, the best indoor wooden climbing toys are designed to encourage toddlers to develop motor skills and self-confidence at their own pace. Each child is unique, so only you know what’s best for your toddler.
I’ll just help you get a little closer to finding the right toy. Let’s jump right in!
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Popular types of indoor wooden climbing toys
To choose the best wooden climbing toy for your toddler, the first step is to learn about the different types available. We’ll take a look at specific models in a moment, but to get you started, here’s a quick summary of your choices.
- Wooden climbing triangles. By far the most popular kind of wooden climbing toy, Pikler triangles are either foldable or non-folding and come in various sizes and color pallets.
- Wooden ramps, slides, and ladders. Pikler triangles often come paired with a ramp, slide, or ladder that props against the triangle, adding another dimension of climbing play possibilities.
- Wooden climbing arches and tunnels. These are the U-shaped and O-shaped cousins of the Pikler triangle.
Best toddler-friendly indoor wooden climbing toy brands
Now that you know you a little about the types of wooden toddler climbing toys, I suggest you check out some of the top brands. Why? Because after you buy your first climbing toy, you’re basically stuck with that brand.
Most parents start with a Pikler triangle and maybe a ramp paired with it. If you want to add to the collection later, you can only be 100% sure they’ll match if you buy from the same brand. The same goes for both fitting together functionally and looking nice together visually.
Here are my top picks, and links where you can check out each brand’s selection of awesome wooden climbing toys.
- CASSARO. (Shop on Amazon, Shop on Etsy) A back-to-basics wooden climbing toy brand. They focus on unpainted natural wood at a fair price.
- HOMEforDREAMS. (Shop on Etsy) A wide selection of beautiful indoor wooden climbing toys with a special emphasis on custom-colored ladder rungs.
- woodandhearts. (Shop on Amazon, Shop on Etsy) A modern approach to classic wooden climbing toys, with a variety of contemporary color choices to match your furniture.
Some other notable wooden Pickler toy brands that have some great wooden climbing toys, but aren’t my favorite all-around brands are ETTE TETE (Shop on Amazon), HoneyBall Kids (Shop on Etsy), TOTTLR (Shop on Amazon), and WoodGrainLab (Shop on Etsy).
Without further adieu, let’s take a look at the toys!
Most essential: Wooden Pikler triangles
Pikler triangles are the bread-and-butter of indoor wooden climbing toys for toddlers. You can hardly find a climbing toy set without one. If it’s your first time shopping for wooden climbing toys for your toddler, start with a Pikler triangle!
There are a few key differences and features to pay attention to. Most important is whether or not the Pikler triangle is foldable. Wooden climbing toys are quite large, so the ability to fold away for storage is a crucial space saver.
Foldability comes in varying degrees. Some models don’t fold at all, most simply open and close, and a few rare “modifiable” or “transformable” models fold into multiple positions — which lets you set up all sorts of fun and unique shapes for your toddler to climb. Have a look for yourself!
Best non-folding wooden Pikler triangles
Best foldable wooden Pikler triangles
Best multi-folding wooden Pikler climbing toys
Best starter set: Wooden climbing triangles with ramps, slides and ladders
A Pickler triangle paired with a ramp is the ultimate starter pack for your toddler’s climbing activities. Having a ramp — well — it ramps up the versatility of your wooden climbing experience. By resting the ramp on higher rungs of the triangle, you increase the slope and create a more advanced climbing challenge for your kid.
Most ramps are reversible — one side with a smooth surface to slide down, and the other side with a stepped ramp to climb up on. The standard triangle and ramp pair is all most toddlers will ever need.
You can buy ramps, slides, or ladders separate from your Pikler triangle, and there are some unique variations to choose from, like rock-climbing ramps or ladders.
But remember, it’s a much better value when you buy together in a pair. And if you’re like most parents, buying a pair is a one-and-done. You’ll never have to shop for an indoor wooden climbing toy ever again.
Best for daycares and preschools: Wooden Pikler arches and tunnels
Since the inception of the Pikler triangle, other kinds of indoor wooden climbing toys have taken shape — in different shapes.
Like I mentioned before, wooden climbing toys are usually compatible when you buy from the same brand. The biggest benefit of adding a wooden arch or tunnel to your collection is the ability to bridge between different parts with a ramp — and create even more exciting climbing structures.
Wooden Pikler arches are a U-shaped wooden toy with two ways to play — climbing and rocking. When set on the ground like the St. Louis arch, it’s like an indoor version of the classic playground arch your toddler will climb over the top of. When flipped upside down like the letter U, your kiddo can jump inside to rock back and forth like a teeter-totter.
Wooden Pikler tunnels have ladder rungs around four sides and an open tunnel through two opposite sides. Your toddler will be able to climb on it and crawl through it.
Best wooden Pikler arches
Best wooden Pikler tunnel
What is a Pikler?
When shopping for indoor wooden climbing toys, you’ll see the name “Pikler” thrown around quite a bit. If you’re wondering what “Pikler” means, you’re not the only one. Almost every single wooden climbing toy for toddlers is called a “Pikler”, so it’s rather confusing.
Pikler is not a brand name. Dr. Emmi Pikler (1902-1984) is a Hungarian pediatrician, author, and theorist best known for her revolutionary approach to infant and child care. She’s the person who invented the Pikler triangle about 100 years ago.
And that’s why most toddler-friendly wooden climbing toys are called a “Pikler”.
Why are wooden climbing toys better than plastic?
There are good reasons why lots of parents choose wooden toys, especially when it comes to baby and toddler toys.
Wood is a non-toxic and natural material, so you don’t have to worry about your little one coming in contact with unknown icky synthetic stuff. Wood is also durable and long-lasting — which makes it ideal for the kind of wear and tear climbing toys take on.
As parents, let’s face it — we like the way wooden toys look. Plastic toys can be an eye-sore. Wooden toys have a tasteful appeal that fits well with other modern furniture. Since indoor climbing toys take up a good amount of space inside your home, the aesthetic appeal is even more important.
How do toddlers benefit from indoor climbing toys?
Climbing toys help your toddler develop all kinds of motor skills, including balance, coordination, and spatial awareness.
It won’t take much time before your toddler learns how to climb up the toy, but you’ll notice it will take practice before he or she learns how to pivot around the top and climb down the other side. That’s because transitions between different types of movements require more advanced motor skills — and that’s exactly what wooden climbing toys are designed to improve.
Wooden Pikler toys, in particular, are designed for children to problem-solve independently. Through trial and error, your child will eventually master even the most advanced climbing movements, and gain greater self-confidence.
Keeping active also promotes muscle growth and strength. Climbing is a healthy way for young kids to expend energy. After an hour of climbing, most toddlers will get tuckered out, and be ready for a peaceful nap. That’s something parents can enjoy, too!
What age is best for indoor wooden climbing toys?
Most indoor wooden climbing toys are recommended for toddlers from 6 months up to 5 years of age. The best time for toddlers to start playing with climbing toys is based on the individual child’s stage of development. When you notice your child starting to climb furniture and shelves around your house, that’s the perfect time to get a climbing toy for your nursery.
Since wooden climbing toys are adjustable and you can add new climbing toys to your collection any time, the climbing toys grow with your child. As your child’s motor skills develop, you can set up a more advanced climbing environment.
Are indoor wooden climbing toys safe for toddlers?
Just like any baby or toddler activity, there is always the risk of injury. Modern wooden Pikler toys are built with with toddlers in mind, and include excellent safety features, like rounded edges, sanded wood, pinch-proof adjustments, and more.
Wooden Pikler climbing toys are designed for toddlers to problem solve, and figure out how to navigate the toy at their own pace. Sooner or later, it’s likely your child will take a fall.
Independent play does not mean unsupervised. It’s beneficial for your child to take on new physical challenges, but parental supervision is recommended at all times.
As a parent, there are a few common ways you can provide the safest-possible climbing environment for your toddler. For example:
- Place down soft mats or carpeting underneath the climbing toy as padding in case of fall.
- Remove all sharp, hard, or breakable objects from the climbing area. Think hardwood furniture, indoor plant pots, handheld toys, or any other object that could cause harm if fallen or stepped onto.
- Make sure your climbing toy is appropriate for your child’s stage of development. If your climbing toy is adjustable, start at the easiest setting, then adjust to higher difficulty when you know your child is ready. The old saying goes “you must learn to crawl before you can walk”.
Finding the best indoor wooden climbing toy for you
You’re a unique individual, and your toddler is, too. I can’t definitively tell you which indoor wooden climbing toy is best for you, but I can give you a good idea of what to expect.
Please take a moment to consider a few key points before deciding which wooden climbing toy is right for your family:
- Price. Wooden climbing toys are not cheap. Most single climbing toys are priced between $90 and $200, and wooden climbing toy sets range from $125 to $500.
- Shipping. Wooden climbing toys are shipped from all corners of the world — in bulky packages. Before you pull out your credit card, double-check whether or not the shipping cost and delivery speed are reasonable.
- Assembly required. When your climbing toy arrives in the mail, it’ll most likely be loose pieces in a box. Double-check whether or not you’ve got the tools and know-how you need to assemble the toy yourself.
- Space available. Wooden climbing toys commonly take up 1-2 square yards of space in your home. Keep in mind whether or not you’ve got enough room for both play and storage, and consider a foldable climbing toy for more convenient storage.
- Colors. Today’s wooden climbing toys are available in a range of modern color palettes. Which visual style is your favorite?
Over to you!
There you have it, 2020’s best indoor wooden climbing toys for toddlers! We’ve discussed what’s important to consider when shopping for wooden climbing toys, looked at today’s top wooden climbing toys, and learned how wooden climbing toys help your toddler’s development.
I hope you found what you’re looking for. Let me know in the comments below!