It seems like every parent is talking about the Pikler triangle — but with a $200 to $500 price tag, some parents just can’t justify the cost.
I know how it feels when you think your little one isn’t getting enough exercise.
Or to worry about their safety when they’re climbing all over everything.
I’ll be the first to say — it’s OK to take your time and really think about it.
To support you in your decision, let me offer you some perspective. You have the right to know what else is out there.
Here’s your comprehensive list of Pikler triangle alternatives.
Some completely free — to get your toddler moving with things you already have around the house.
We’ll compare other gross motor toys against the Pikler triangle too.
The Pikler is not your only option.
Let’s find what’s best for your family.
Affiliate Link Disclosure – If you see a product you like and click through to buy it, I would genuinely appreciate it. I may earn a small commission — at no extra cost to you. It would mean a lot, thanks!
Convenient & Free Alternatives To The Pikler Triangle
Cushions & Pillows
Got a sofa with removable cushions? It’s your toddler’s lucky day.
Soft and cushy couch cushions are a toddler-safe climbing toy. Without spending a dime, you’ve set up an active and imaginative play environment for your growing child.
With the couch you already have in your home, you can stack up a play cushion for your toddlers to bounce on. Simply stack them up and let your kids climb.
Or try building a play fort out of cushions, pillows, and sheets.
If you regularly order on Amazon, you’ve probably got at least a few cardboard boxes lying around your home somewhere.
If you’ve recently purchased a bulky item, then you can take the cardboard box it was delivered inside and turn it into a creative play exercise for your child.
Sure, they’re not climbable like the Pikler, but they’re entertaining in their own right.
If you’re still on the fence about building a Pikler triangle. This idea is a perfect “trial run” for your first indoor toddler motor skills activity.
Public Playgrounds and Jungle Gyms
At this very moment with more public parks opening up after the pandemic, it’s the perfect time to plan your afternoon of active play on the playground.
We’re talking top-notch climbing equipment for both toddlers and older kids. Plus, some sunshine never did anyone any harm.
Alternatively, look for gymnastic centers and play centers in your area. Have you ever taken your toddler trampolining?
DIY Pikler Triangle (Make One Yourself)
I’ve never built a Pikler triangle myself — but I’ve seen dozens of people teach how they did it online. If you or your husband or wife are good with your hands, some people choose to make Piklers themselves rather than buying.
Etsy offers premium DIY Pikler triangle plans, patterns, and designs — or you can check YouTube for a how-to video.
If you have some practice working with wood under your belt, then you’ll be able to customize your Pikler triangle to fit your family’s needs.
Best Pikler Triangle Alternatives
Now to highlight the top 9 toys to consider instead of the Pikler triangle. Let’s find the perfect fit for your family!
- The Nugget is a soft foam climbing alternative
- Climbing arches & rainbow rockers add a new element of balance
- Wobble boards are like a toddler-friendly indoor surfboard
- Stepping stones let your toddler chart their own obstacle challenge
- Indoor slides bring the playground classic into your living room
- Climbing domes are a more challenging & intricate climb than the PIkler
- Indoor jungle gyms are the ultimate toddler climbing toy (but pricey)
- Balance bikes teach your toddler an essential skill early in life
- Learning & climbing towers let your toddler partner up with mom & dad
- … And more!
Soft Foam Climbers (The Nugget)
Not unlike the Pikler triangle, foam play couches (like The Nugget) took 2020 and 2021 by storm.
During the worst parts of the pandemic, lock-downs meant the only exercise our kids were going to get was indoors.
So, what is a nugget? It’s The Nugget — a kid-sized foam couch made with a 4 piece bottom base and two triangular wedge pieces. The foam sections are easily rearranged into play structures and can be stacked like giant blocks for your little one to climb on.
Pikler triangle vs. The Nugget couch foam climber — how do they compare?
(1) The first key difference is space-saving — when not being climbed on, The Nugget can be used as a couch to lounge on (just like any couch). Whereas the foldable Pikler triangles just fold away for storage — and can’t really be used.
A counterpoint — The Nugget is much bulkier than a foldable Pikler triangle. So if you don’t have much space in your home, the Pikler’s foldable storage is more practical.
(2) Second, let’s look at the price. The Pikler triangle ranges anywhere from $100 to $500 — with plenty of quality models at around $200.
“The Nugget” is an official brand name, and their “original play couch” costs $230. Foamnasium brand makes a nearly-identical foam kids couch that costs slightly higher for the large-sized and slightly less for the mini-sized (at the time of writing).
If you’re looking for a lower-cost option, ECR4Kids’ foam climbing shapes and SoftScape’s active play foam structure are both large foam blocks your babies and toddlers can climb on. They aren’t shaped like a couch, but they’re much cheaper than The Nugget and Foamnasium.
(3) Age-wise, the Pikler triangle and the Nugget are about the same.
Both are great for 1 to 5 years old.
Soft and safe, The Nugget is more approachable for babies. Lots of young toddlers jump right on it — right out of the box.
For babies, there are plenty of other Pikler triangle play ideas that to try with your baby before they’re ready to climb.
But climbing the Pikler triangle indeed requires more developed motor skills than The Nugget.
(4) I learned a lot from one childcare professional on Reddit who weighed in on the debate:
“In my experience [Pikler triangles] breed much more creativity than the foam climbing sets, and kids get much more mileage out of them.”
With years of experience caring for dozens of toddlers, she thinks the Pikler triangle is the better choice:
- The Pikler triangle’s rigid rungs and edges are better for building motor and climbing skills.
- The Nugget encourages extremely rambunctious play — since the soft material lets kids jump and squirm any way they please, kids won’t learn risk-assessment skills — which may lead to accidents when playing on other climbing equipment.
- Pikler triangles last longer and can be played with in different ways as your toddler grows older.
I’d echo that sentiment — and say that the climbing experiences are fundamentally different. Your little one can climb on a foam climber, but can’t climb up a foam climber.
(5) And one last note. For large toys like these, color and aesthetics matter.
Both Piklers and Nuggets come in a great color selection — but I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks The Nugget tacky in comparison.
We wrote an entire roundup review of the best Pikler triangles where you can learn more.
Arch Rocker & Climber
Unless you’re running a childcare center — I wouldn’t recommend a Pikler cube on its own. It’s just not as versatile as the Pikler triangle itself.
The Pikler arch is a different story — and can be a substitute for the Pikler triangle altogether.
Pikler triangle vs Pikler climbing arch (rainbow rocker) — which one’s right for you?
Pikler triangles are triangular and designed specifically for climbing. Pikler arches are semi-circular and designed for both climbing and rocking.
Pikler climbing arches like Wood & Hearts brand’s can be used for rocking, but they’re optimized for climbing.
Pikler rocking arches like Kate Haa brand’s can be used for climbing, but they’re optimized for rocking.
Both styles can replace the Pikler triangle altogether — plus toddlers can rock during play time and nap during quiet time.
With toddler rockers, you get toddler rocking activities the Pikler can’t do.
Climb on it like a rainbow, swing back and for like a rocking boat, or take a nap like a baby cradle.
We put together our top picks for the best rainbow rockers for you to learn more.
What’s all the wobble about?!
The wooden wobble board is one of the most popular Pikler alternatives.
It’s a U-shaped balance board designed for babies and toddlers to practice rocking from side to side. With so many versatile ways for toddlers to wobble — the wobble board is a worthwhile toy for active toddlers.
Balance board vs Pikler triangle – how do they size up?
The balance board costs typically less than the Pikler. They’re not specifically made for climbing, but they’ll get your toddler practicing balance and other motor skills just like a Pikler.
So what do you say? What about a wobble board?
Like Bunny Hopkins brand’s rainbow rocker — it’s got that same beautiful rainbow colors Pikler-owners adore.
We wrote a full review of the best wooden balance boards where you can learn more.
Stepping stones are certainly a curious idea to tiptoe around.
Toddlers can arrange them across the floor in any pattern they like for unlimited jumping and hopping combinations. They make a great addition to any obstacle course in your living room.
They look great in your playroom and keep the kids entertained and challenged for hours.
They also stack back to back to store away nicely. That means stepping stones are a major space-saver compared to the Pikler triangle.
They’re much less expensive than the Pikler triangle too.
The playground slide is an absolute classic!
For a rainy day or long winter, indoor toddler slides let your toddler experience the magic of the playground — all year round.
That makes it a worthwhile alternative to the Pikler.
Indoor wooden slide technology has come a long way since the 1950s! EZPlay brand’s eco-friendly toddler slide is my absolute top pick!
Slides are perfectly sized for toddlers to climb tall — your toddler will get a rush of excitement zooming down. Your little one will get tons of playtime out of this thing!
With side rails for safety, they’re ready for babies and toddlers to enjoy and stay active!
Not just for sliding — slides are great for all kinds of creative play ideas. Try putting couch cushions on the floor around them.
Make it into a ramp for toy cars, balls, or stuffed animals to zoom down!
We featured our favorite indoor wooden slides where you can learn more.
The perfect indoor wooden climbing dome is sold by HeathSong.
Two feet tall, it’s the perfect size for toddlers to climb a complex structure indoors.
I’m simply fascinated by the innovative design. Your toddler will learn problem-solving as they navigate the intricate pentagonal climbing bar pattern.
For an outdoor alternative, Lifetime brand makes a backyard-friendly geometric dome play climber appropriate for ages 4 and up.
Indoor Jungle Gym
Full-scale indoor jungle gyms are the ultimate climbing experience for your toddler.
Like a playground inside your home, indoor climbing gyms include multiple ladders, slides, and swings. Age-appropriate for both toddlers and kids, it’s a complete climbing set second to none.
The problem is their bulky size. They take up lots of space in your home.
And they’re not cheap either. At up to $800 for a premium indoor wooden playground set — these are very pricey.
We wrote a complete guide to the best indoor climbing toys where you learn more.
The toddler balance bike is an interesting alternative to the Pikler triangle.
Climbing toys like the Pikler primarily support your toddler’s gross motor development — and the balance bike does too.
Playing on balance bikes in the early years prepares your kiddo for riding kid-sized bikes as they grow.
It’s an essential skill and worth learning early.
Balance bikes can be ridden both indoors and out. Your little cyclist will get healthy exercise, and rest better after expending an afternoon of bike-riding energy.
The most innovative wooden balance bike of 2021 is made by the leg&go brand. Highly recommend.
Learning & Climbing Tower
Here’s an interesting option for people interested in the Pikler triangle.
Its focus is less on the act of climbing, and more on elevating the toddler up to the same level as their adults.
Designed sturdy and safe for toddlers — they give toddlers access to activities together with mommy and daddy.
With ECR4Kids brand’s wooden kitchen tower, you’ll have a little helper at your side.
Learning towers are an educational favorite for toddlers to help mom and dad in the kitchen. With easy access to the countertop, your toddler helps you cook or even learn how to prepare simple dishes themselves.
Lots of learning towers come with special features that enable all sorts of enriching activitie
You can use it as a toddler desk for reading, coloring, and learning at home.
Cassaro brand’s wooden climbing tower even comes with a chalkboard for learning time and a slide for active indoor play.
Other Toys Similar To The Pikler (Worth A Peek!)
We’ve already covered the top 9 Pikler substitutes.
But I’m just too excited — so here’s more!
Wooden toys come in such peculiar styles, I couldn’t help but wonder if people interested in buying something similar to the Pikler triangle might be interested in these off-the-wall toys too.
These toy ideas are certainly less common and aren’t necessarily a perfect Pikler alternative.
But I thought you should know — these are some pretty cool toys too.
Lightweight Giant Building Blocks For Toddlers (Foam or Cardboard)
Giant soft blocks are colorful, stackable, and wonderfully toddler-usable.
They’re perfectly lightweight, yet feel substantial in your hand. Sturdy and stable enough for your toddler to stack a wall even taller than themselves. Try foam blocks or cardboard blocks!
The Toddler Step Stool
Unlike a Pikler, this one’s made for practical purposes. It gives your toddler a helpful leg up when they’re trying to reach something high. Battat brand’s wooden two-step tool is a great deal and looks beautiful.
The Toddler Construction Tube
I had a set of these in the backyard when I was 4 and 5 years old. We’d build elaborate structures and climb them once they were finished.
Those summers playing with a toddler construction climber like Funfix brand’s were full of excitement. And the technology behind these things has come a long way since I was a child.
The Toddler Crawl Tunnel
Technically, crawling is not the same as climbing — but toddler-friendly tunnels like Lovevery brand’s are some kids’ favorite. Like a life-size crawling maze in the middle of your living room — crawling tunnels let your kids get active on all fours.
The Indoor Toddler Teepee Tent
If you drape a sheet over a Pikler triangle, you can use it as a little reading nook. So here’s a toy that’s made specifically for that. Eco-friendly indoor teepees like Tiny Land brand’s are made of wood and canvas with a minimal appeal.
We love the Pikler through and through — but you deserve to know what else is out there before you buy.
Today I showcased the best eco-friendly Pikler triangle alternatives made of wood — plus some non-wood climbing toys for comparison.
Awesome favorite products for encouraging the practice of gross motor skills indoors — just like the Pikler.
I’d love to hear from you! What did you decide to do?
Let me know in the comments below.